Columbia Icefield Glacier Tour

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Drever on October 31, 2002

We took a day trip from Lake Louise to the Columbia Icefield located on the boundary of Banff and Jasper National Parks. This is one of the largest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Arctic Circle, covering an area of nearly 325 square kilometres. The Icefield feeds eight major glaciers including the Athabasca, Dome, and Stutfield Glaciers, all visible from the Icefields Parkway road. Apparently the Columbia Icefield is the only true "continental divide," for its meltwater feeds streams and rivers that pour into the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans.

In front of the Columbia Icefield Visitor Centre lies the Athabasca Glacier--a tongue of ice 6km long and 1km wide. It used to practically reach the visitor centre but it has been gradually receding due to global warming. The visitor centre, we were told, was quiet due to the September 11 terrorist attack on New York. If that was a quiet day I would hate being there on a busy day. The Centre houses various displays about the Icefield and also restaurants.

We took the Brewster's Ice Age Adventure, a tour onto the icy slopes of the Athabasca Glacier. We travelled in a specially-designed Brewster Snocoach to the middle of the glacier, on a 5km round-trip journey. Our driver/guide explained that the coach was fitted with every safety device including a woman driver! We were asked to secure our seat belts--there weren’t any, funny girl! She just about wore out her throat relating all the facts--how glaciers are formed and the interesting geological features.

At the icefall below the glacier headwall, we stepping out onto ice formed from snow falling as long as 400 years ago. It was a lovely day and really not that cold considering that we were standing on a 1000 feet of ice.

We award top marks to Brewster’s and to our ever-so-funny guide.

Columbia Icefield Snocoach Tours
100 Gopher Street
Banff, Alberta, T1L 1J3
+1 877 423 7433

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