5 Things Our Guides Want You to Know About: The Icefields Parkway
Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park

Photo Credit: Sarah Hatton

If you’ve never felt small while being surrounded by towering, mystic giants before, buckle up for the Icefields Parkway.

Named among top drives in the world by National Geographic and Lonely Planet, the Discover Banff Tours’ Columbia Icefields Parkway Tour brings you to new heights and ancient geology. At 2,088 metres (6,850 feet) above sea level, this will be the closest you’ll come to the treeline and accompanying glaciers.

1. Glaciers or Icefield?

It’s not often that you’ll view over a hundred glaciers in one day – or more than you can count anyways. That is the case on this trip, and you can even walk on one too! Ending the trip at the Columbia Icefield, you’ll walk on the Athabasca Glacier. Or are you walking on the Columbia Icefield? What is the difference anyway?! Well, the answer is both. You’ll be walking on the Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier, at the same time. An icefield is a large area of interconnected glaciers that form a larger icefield. The difference between this icefield though, and almost any other icefield you’ll ever see, is that we have only one of two triple-continental divides in the world! Meaning from the Columbia Icefield, water flows to three oceans. The Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic.

See the Athabasca Glacier on the Icefields Parkway Tour
Photo Credit: Mike Seehagel and Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection

2. A journey through history of the past 100 years

As with all of our tours, the Discover Banff Tours’ Columbia Icefields Parkway Tour is hosted by a knowledgeable guide that will give you all the facts. While the massive expanse of ancient ice looks tranquil, it’s constantly moving and shifting and is the very reason our geography is sculpted in the formations you’ll see.Our glaciers are retreating and an alarming rate. On the Icefields Parkway tour, we’ll show you the markers at the Athabasca Glacier showing its retreat and where it used to lie, starting from the early 1900s. The Columbia Icefield is also getting shallower – while it still holds a depth that is as deep as the Empire State building is tall (approx. 365 metres or 1,200 feet) and covers 215 square kilometres, its retreat and all the others’ around it, is reason to be concerned.

Columbia Icefields Parkway Tour with Discover Banff Tours

3. Our Columbia Icefields Parkway Tour has an advantage over larger bus tours

Our smaller, more personalized buses can stop at more places and show you even more glaciers and views – so again, buckle in because we’ll be taking advantage of those long Canadian summer days. Our 11 hour tour will show you key highlights such as:

  • Crowfoot Glacier
  • Bow Lake
  • Peyto Lake
  • Columbia Icefield & the Athabasca Glacier
  • Glacier Skywalk
  • Bridal Veil Falls
  • Saskatchewan Crossing
See Bow Lake on the Columbia Icefields Parkway Tour with Discover Banff Tours in the Canadian Rockies
Photo Credit: Stevin Tuchiwsky @stevint


Icefields Helicopter Tours

See the Canadian Rockies on our spectacular Icefield helicopter tours with breathtaking views of glaciers, icefalls, waterfalls, alpine lakes and
Throughout the day
20 Mins, 30 Mins, 55 Mins

Private Summer Sightseeing Tours

Looking for a new way to tour with your friends or family? Book a private sightseeing tour of Banff National
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All Ages

Columbia Icefield Tour

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11 Hours

4. The grand finale without a grand lineup

There are many advantages to booking Discover Banff Tours’ Columbia Icefields Parkway Tour – one of them being, no lines. The grand finale of this trip is definitely the Columbia Icefield Ice Explorer trip and the Glacier Skywalk. Both popular attractions and key tours along the Icefields Parkway, so respectfully, there are lineups – but not for you. We have guaranteed times for both activities, and both depart from the Discovery Centre. Trek out onto the glacier via a monster ice bus driving you to the site, then take in the 360 views with the glass bottom skywalk as it hangs out over the valley.

Walk on the glass floor Glacier Skywalk on the Columbia Icefields Parkway Tour
Photo Credit: Mike Seehagel / Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection

5. Wildlife viewing on the trip

There’s wildlife to be spotted on this trip.  Our guides will keep watch, but we need your help too. Bighorn sheep, elk, bears, and deer are common but if you’re lucky – you may even see a mountain goat!

See animals such as grizzly bears on a wildlife tour
Photo Credit: Tourism Jasper

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