Glacier View Lodge, Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park

The VIP Adventure was sponsored by Pursuit Collection, opinions are my own. 

It’s that time again to start planning road trips! This summer I will be staying closer to home and road-tripping around British Columbia and Alberta unless travel opens up more. One adventure that is top of my list is to walk on the Columbia Icefield again! If you have never visited this area of Jasper National Park, it’s worth stopping for the night and spending some time learning more about the glacier in the Icefield Interpretive Centre. It is closed during the winter from about mid-October until the end of April or mid-May. I recommend booking your stop and tours in advance, it is usually busy! To book a tour to the Icefield, I have a link at the end of this article.

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Where is the Columbia Icefield?

The Columbia Icefield is in the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Jasper National Park. It is located between Banff and Jasper along the Icefield Parkway and a must-stop for at least one or two nights on your road trip. Athabasca Glacier is one of the six main “toes” of the Columbia Icefield and is one of the most visited glaciers in North America.

Where do we stay when visiting the Columbia Icefield?

The best place to stay for the full experience, is at the updated Glacier View Lodge, across the road from Athabasca Glacier. I prefer to immerse myself in the whole experience instead of staying in downtown Jasper and driving over an hour to reach the glacier. Then again, if you’re already booked for a week or so in Jasper, then the long drive is okay. I know, I know, 1.25 hours doesn’t seem all that long (depending on where you live), but you will want to stop along the way to admire Athabasca Falls and spend some time walking the trails near the Falls, as well as spending time on the icefield and Skywalk. This would be a full day’s adventure from Jasper.

The Glacier View Lodge also includes the Glacier Discovery Centre and dining options. I recommend booking a Glacier View Room over a Mountain View Room, it is wonderful to wake up to a view of the Glacier from your room while enjoying a Nespresso coffee. I had a quiet and restful sleep, I think the mountain air really helped!

Glacier View Lodge, Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park
Glacier View Lodge, Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park
Glacier View Lodge, Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park
Glacier View Lodge, Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park

What is there to do near the Columbia Icefield?

Ice Explorer Adventure

Walking on the Athabasca Glacier is one adventure you cannot miss!  Make sure to book a tour — it is worth the experience! From the moment I climbed into a giant snow coach with tires almost taller than me, I was excited about this adventure. The ice explorer isn’t very fast, it slowly climbs up the road to the best place to access the glacier. Dress warmly, of course, as you are venturing out onto a glacier. While you’re on the Glacier, you can get out and walk around, but don’t go too far…stay near your guide as there are hidden crevasses and is quite dangerous.

Glacier View Lodge, Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park
Glacier View Lodge, Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park

Columbia Icefield Skywalk

Another adventure you must do is book the Columbia Icefield Skywalk! Leaving from the Glacier View Lodge by shuttle, it’s a short drive to the Skywalk from the hotel. I won’t spoil the experience for you, but as you walk along the interpretive storytelling path from the shuttle parking to the glass walkway, your guide will help explain each story and the history behind the area. Once you are on the glass walkway, it is 280 m (918 ft) to the bottom of the Sunwapta Valley below. You will see waterfalls and the river running beneath your feet, far below.

Glacier Skywalk, Glacier View Lodge, Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park
Glacier Skywalk, Glacier View Lodge, Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park

Athabasca Falls

When you’re driving from Banff to Jasper along the Icefield Parkway, you’ll drive right past Athabasca Falls and miss it if you don’t stop. When driving from Jasper, it is about a 20-minute drive to the turn-off. I have done it many times! On the last visit, though, we decided to explore. From the highway to the parking lot it’s only about 400 metres. Yep, that’s all! I recommend spending about an hour walking along the paved interpretive trail along the canyon. You will cross the gorge on a concrete bridge and can climb down the stairs for a great view of the gorge. I haven’t visited in the winter but have heard it is spectacular when the spray freezes in beautiful formations.

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park
Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

Dining at the Glacier View Lodge

You don’t have to go far to enjoy delicious meals! The Glacier View Lodge provides all you need for all meals, with a stunning view of the Glacier. I recommend reserving your dining times as seating is limited with covid protocols in place. Ask upon check-in if the restaurant is open, if not, you can dine in your room or on the deck with a beautiful view of the Glacier.

Glacier View Lodge, Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park
Glacier View Lodge, Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park

Columbia Icefield VIP Adventure Experience

By far the best value is to book the VIP Adventure Experience then you don’t have to think about the details, it’s already done for you! We booked this experience the last time we visited and it was so perfect! I also recommend making reservations for your meals to ensure you get are finished in a timely manner — you don’t want to miss your shuttle to the Glacier after breakfast!

Included:

  • Private evening tour on the Columbia Icefield Skywalk
  • Private morning tour on the Athabasca Glacier
  • Welcome reception
  • Cozy and comfortable guest rooms
  • Evening entertainment and stargazing opportunities
  • Guest lounge with expansive views of the Glacier
  • Complimentary late check-out at 12 PM

This is one trip I’m looking forward to doing again this year! Feel free to message me to take care of all the details and book this adventure for you!

You can book your own Columbia Icefield Tour. This is a full-day adventure from Banff and return.

The VIP Adventure was sponsored by Pursuit Collection, opinions are my own. 

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