It’s hard to capture the beauty of the Canadian Rockies in a single activity, but we think walking around on one of its biggest glaciers is about as close as you can get. Lucky for you, the good folks over at Athabasca Glacier IceWalks have been offering exactly that for over 30 years. We went on one of their glacier tours recently and all we can say is if you do one thing this summer, this should be it.

Why? Well, there are a lot of reasons. First off, the area is located along the Columbia Icefields Parkway, which is about 1.5 hours south of Jasper and 2 hours north of Banff. The drive alone is worth it, offering stunning views of emerald green lakes, gorgeous waterfalls, and gigantic mountains. And of course, tons of trees.


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But, that excitement only grows once you arrive at the icefield area itself. The stunning valley is about as rugged and raw as the landscape can get, in sharp contrast to the lush forest surrounding it. We’d tell you why, but we’d rather let the guide explain it to you.

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Which they do with the reverence and excitement that you can only hope for during a guided tour. Having fallen prey to a couple of ‘tourist trap’ experiences in our time, we’re always a little skeptical of them. If anything, these folks underpromise and overdeliver. Even the half-day (3-hour round-trip) tour, which requires minimal physical fitness, will take you farther onto the ice than more prominent, vehicle-based tours. And, of course, in a much safer way than trying to explore it yourself. Do not do this, by the way, like ever.

As you hike up the glacier, you’ll learn about the landscape, the massive Columbia Icefield above you, and other glaciers in the area. You’ll also learn about the Athabasca Glacier itself, which is undergoing the most radical change in its history. The glacier has lost over half its volume over the past century or so, and is expected to disappear completely in the next few decades.


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So yes, glacier tours like this are your last chance to see one of Canada’s most awe-inspiring national landmarks. We hate to be bummers, but we feel like the tour is almost as poignant as it is beautiful. Only almost, though, since the landscape we saw during our visit was unlike anything else we’ve encountered in our travels. If Mars had glaciers on its surface, we have a feeling this is what they’d look like.

In short, you need to check it out, and the folks at Athabasca Glacier IceWalks are ready to show you.

Athabasca Glacier IceWalks

When: Tours on until October 10th, 2021
Where: Columbia Icefield
Cost: $115+ per persone