So you’re planning a trip to Jasper National Park this summer.
Your itinerary is filling up with iconic things to do while you’re here – a Maligne Lake boat tour, riding the train through the Rocky Mountains, and taking in the view of Whistlers Mountain from 2,263 meters up on the Jasper Skytram.
But what about the Columbia Icefields?
You might be wondering how that works in the summertime, exactly. Icefields in July – what is that like?
To fill you in on all the details, we asked Michele at SunDog Tours to give us an insider’s look at the Columbia Icefields tour.
Read on to learn more, or jump to the tour page to get started on your booking!
About The Columbia Icefield
At roughly 230 sq km (89 sq mi), 365 m deep (1,200 ft), and 28 km (17 mi) long, the Columbia Icefield wins the title of largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies. Its impressive look is due in part to its location on a high alpine plateau along the Alberta – BC border, where it receives an average of 7 m (23 ft) of snowfall each year.
23 feet of snow is a lot of snow – so much so that it’s too much for the summer heat to melt, so as it accumulates it turns to ice, which flows down to surrounding passes. This creates glaciers, including the Athabasca Glacier ( one of the highlights of the Columbia Icefields tour at SunDog Tours).
What is the Icefields Parkway?
The Icefields Parkway is a 230 km (143 mi) drive that connects Lake Louise and Jasper. It is popular for its stunning views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and seemingly untouched landscape, where wildlife thrives and nature rules the expanse.
On your tour of the Columbia Icefields, you will drive by bus on the Icefields Parkway and have the opportunity to take in the incredible scenery along the way.
Icefield Tour Trip Planning Details
Here are the important details for adding an icefield tour to your upcoming Jasper National Park trip:
- Tour Duration: 9-10 hours, depending on your pickup and dropoff locations.
- Group Size: Groups vary in size, but are no larger than 25 people as our vehicles have been reduced to 50% capacity due to our COVID-19 safety protocol
- Transportation: By bus and by foot.
- Physical Activity Level: This tour is primarily a bus trip with scenic stops. There is a four-hour tour part-way through the day to visit the Athabasca Glacier and Skywalk. Here you can expect to do some light walking.
- Lunch: Enjoy a memorable picnic lunch on the Glacier Adventure and Glacier SkyWalk tours.
What To Wear
The icefield tours run from May to October, so depending on the time of year you visit, you may want to layer up or layer down. A good rule of thumb is to bring a coat whether it’s summer or fall because as Michele reminds us, “when you are walking on the glacier, you are walking on a giant piece of ice!”
“Hiking boots are not required,” says Michele, “but closed-toe footwear is important as going on the glacier can be slippery and the temperature is colder there.”
Whether you arrive in Jasper National Park in May or October, here are five core pieces to pack:
- Closed-toe footwear
- Day backpack for snacks and water
- Season-appropriate hat
What Past Guests Have To Say About Their Icefields Tour with SunDog Tours
If you don’t know anyone who has visited the Columbia Icefield, here are some positive reviews to add to your research!
“We went on the Icefields Parkway and stopped at Athabasca Falls, the Weeping wall, Bow lake, the Columbia Icefields Center, culminating with a tour of the Athabasca Glacier and the Glacier skywalk. Our driver/guide, Harry, was terrific- knowledgeable, personable and just plain nice. It was a great day. SunDog Tours is 2 for 2!”Micheal C., Tripadvisor
“There is no way to describe the incredible beauty driving the Icefield parkway, traveling in, on and thru Athabasca Glacier, Skywalk, waterfalls and Pass among other jaw dropping spots. What made the trip even more perfect was the wonderful driver/guide we had, Chris. He was efficient, caring, and passionate in sharing his joy in this amazing part of the country. Thanks so much for the memories you helped make!!!”Felicia V., Tripadvisor
“Our group of nine had the most delightful and knowledgeable guide Patricia who picked us up from Edmonton, took us to Jasper, showed us all the great places including Maligne Lake, Maligne Canyon, the falls, Medicine lake, Columbia Icefield, the Glass skywalk, Spirit Island Cruise, Banff etc and dropped us at Calgary Airport at the end of our tour. Throughout the tour she gave us one of the most fascinating and charming informative sessions on nature, plant life, wildlife, Geology, palaeontology and actually life in general. We will always fondly remember this visit and are grateful to Pat for making this visit one the most fascinating events in our life.”Sadat C., Tripadvisor
Note: Interested in a private tour like Sadat’s? View our Private Journeys page to learn more!
Don’t Forget Your Camera
“There are many photo opportunities on the Columbia Icefields tour,” says Michele. There are also wildlife spotting opportunities, as bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goats, and bears are known to make an appearance. But just a glance out your window gives you a view of many of Alberta’s most iconic natural landmarks, including:
- Athabasca Falls
- Athabasca Glacier
- Bow Lake
- Crowfoot Glacier
- Weeping Wall
- Tangle Falls
This is just to name a few of the wonders you will encounter on your trip, says Michele.
“It is arguably one of the most scenic drives in the world!”
Book your Columbia Icefields tour with SunDog Tours today and make it an unforgettable part of your trip to Jasper National Park.