The exhilarating experience of walking on the Athabasca Glacier is not something that you may think is suitable for everyone and only for the adventure folks out there. However, thanks to Brewster Travel Canada, they have created an opportunity for all skill levels and ages to be able to enjoy this breathtaking attraction.
Whether you are an avid thrill seeker or simply someone that enjoys the beauty of natural attractions, having the opportunity to head out and set foot on the Athabasca Glacier is surely an experience you won’t want to miss.
During our awesome 48 hours in Jasper National Park, we set aside enough time to head to the Columbia Icefield and enjoy the thrilling experience offered by Brewster Travel Canada. Although we didn’t plan our itinerary perfectly and had to drive a couple of hours south from Hinton, it was well and truly worth the effort as we arrived just in time to embark on our journey into the unknown.
It’s not every day that you can wander out on a glacier and appreciate the untouched surroundings except for the changes Mother Nature has had on the glacial path. If you are visiting the Canadian Rockies and are considering the best things to do in Jasper National Park, be sure to add the Glacier Adventure to your itinerary as this is a once in a lifetime experience that you won’t be leaving disappointed!
Brewster Travel Canada
Before deciding whether this adventure is something that you can’t afford to miss, let’s take a look at the company that has organized all of these amazing excursions. Since 1892, Brewster Travel Canada has been providing guests from all across the globe the opportunity to experience the myriad of amazing natural attractions throughout the Canadian Rockies.
From the Glacier Adventure in the Columbia Icefield that we are about to discuss to the various glacial lake cruises in Banff and Jasper, this company has created an elite portfolio of adventures that everyone visiting the Canadian Rockies will likely want to experience.
The Glacier Adventure on the Athabasca Glacier is a particularly intriguing option because it offers visitors the chance to board the “Ice Explorer”, a dynamic vehicle that is unique to Brewster Travel Canada and designed specifically for Glacier transportation. It’s certainly no surprise to hear that this brand is marketing this excursion as follows…because there are a few other superlatives that I would use to describe this adventure!
This once-in-a-lifetime excursion will leave you feeling exhilarated and inspired (Brewster Travel Canada)
Glacier Adventure Information
The beauty of Brewster Travel Canada is that they offer awesome package deals where you can save substantial amounts courtesy of the discounts they include. This is going to depend solely on your interests, how much time you have in the Canadian Rockies, and your willingness to drive to the other attractions which may be either in Jasper or Banff National Parks. They don’t call it the “Explorer” packages for nothing! More on those later…
If you are only interested in visiting the Columbia Icefield, the following information is available based on the latest rates at the time of publication. Be sure to check out the website for the latest prices and opening hours.
Glacier Adventure on the Athabasca Glacier ONLY. If you book online, these are the rates you will pay, otherwise the “regular” rate should you purchase on-site will be 10% extra!
Adults – CAD 85 (US$ 64)
Children (Age 6-15) – CAD 43 (US$ 32)
Under 5 – FREE
If you are considering both the Glacier Adventure and Glacier Skywalk, be sure to check out the following combo package deals as they offer great savings!
There are four different combo packages and each one really depends on whether you intend on spending more time in Jasper or Banff. The below prices are based on the 10% discount you receive if you book online and again, are accurate at the time of publication.
You can save up to 20% on ticket prices if you book in advance and opt for one of these.
- Banff Ultimate Explorer – Includes Glacier Adventure, Glacier Skywalk, Banff Gondola and Banff Lake Cruise (Adults – CAD 173 (US$ 130); Children (Age 6-15) CAD 87 (US$ 65)
- Jasper Ultimate Explorer – Includes Glacier Adventure, Glacier Skywalk, Banff Gondola and Maligne Lake Cruise (Adults – CAD 183 (US$ 137); Children (Age 6-15) CAD 92 (US$ 69)
- Banff Explorer – Includes Banff Gondola and Banff Lake Cruise (Adults – CAD 98 (US$ 73); Children (Age 6-15) CAD 49 (US$ 36)
- Jasper Explorer – Includes Glacier Adventure, Glacier Skywalk and Maligne Lake Cruise (Adults – CAD 133 (US$ 100); Children (Age 6-15) CAD 67 (US$ 50)
March 1 to May 26 – 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
May 27 to September 3 – 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
September 4 to October 1 – 10:00AM – 5:00 PM
October 2 to October 15 – 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
October 16 to October 29 – 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
The Glacier Adventure departs from the Columbia Icefields Glacier Discovery Centre, located on the Icefields Parkway approximately one hour south of Jasper (2 1/2 hours north of Banff).
If you are planning on experiencing the Glacier Skywalk in addition to the Glacier Adventure and you are driving south from Jasper, be sure to drive beyond the Skywalk about 6 km to reach the Discovery Center. All car parking is available here.
Tours for both the Glacier Adventure and Glacier Skywalk depart every 15 to 30 minutes from the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre.
You can book your discounted tickets directly through the booking engine here: Glacier Adventure Tickets
For more information on the latest prices and hours, check out the Brewster Travel Canada website here: Glacier Adventure
Experience the Ice Explorer
Get ready for the experience of a lifetime…or at least an adventure that you will likely have never experienced before! Following a quick coach ride over from the Discovery Center, our tour guide and driver introduced herself and instructed us to board the “beast” also known as an Ice Explorer. Think about a combination of a monster truck and a minibus and you have this impressive looking vehicle.
Our tour guide later told us that Brewster Travel Canada is the only company to own these vehicles. The fleet on display at the Athabasca Glacier along with one other being used for work on Antarctica are the only ones around. At a cost of several million dollars each, it’s no surprise that these are pretty rare!
The most impressive features of the Ice Explorers are the tires. These are some pretty enormous wheels and in conjunction with the hydraulic brakes, create the perfect vehicle for transporting visitors onto the Athabasca Glacier.
The first part of the journey is relatively calm but as we ventured on the edge of the glacier along the rocky lateral moraines that have built up over the centuries, the adventure started.
Hold on to your seats and all of your belongings because the journey is about to get serious! As we headed down an incredibly steep gradient, we immediately noticed the power and traction of the Ice Explorer as it easily handled the 32 percent slope.
A quick bath for the tires to remove all of the rocks saw us head out on to the vast icy landscape, also known as the Athabasca Glacier.
The return trip in the Ice Explorer was an equally eye-opening experience as we embarked on the same journey but up the 32 percent gradient.
Again, the vehicle had no issues and our driver was certainly experienced in handling this type of terrain which was a relief to all 56 visitors on board.
Walk on the Athabasca Glacier
The moment we had all been waiting for arrived after a 20-minute journey on the Ice Explorer. It’s fair to say that although you are not traveling a particularly long distance, these vehicles are designed solely for maneuvering through the rough terrain and NOT for moving at high speeds.
Admittedly, when I stepped off the Ice Explorer my first thought was “I need to stay upright and not make a fool of myself in front of everyone else on the ice.” It was surprisingly easy to stand up and walk around on the compacted ice and of course, the designated area was created to ensure everyone remained safe.
Another thought, what happens if we fall through the glacier? Seriously, it crossed our minds! Don’t worry, this is some pretty thick ice that we are talking about here on the Athabasca Glacier! It is measured to be approximately 90–300 meters (300–980 ft) thick.
The scenery is incredible and that’s an understatement. I don’t think the pictures will ever do this landscape enough justice and it’s one of those places you have to experience for yourself. We were incredibly fortunate to have perfect weather to enjoy the Athabasca Glacier.
While admiring the beauty of the glacier, it’s hard to stop yourself from catching a glimpse of the towering peaks that surround this glacial valley. Imagine a time-lapse of the glacier moving through the valley and you are left with the incredible sight today.
Perhaps because I studied Geography as part of my undergraduate degree is why I was so passionately enamored by the beauty around the Columbia Icefield but even if you have no real interest in the topic of glaciation, this is a breathtaking sight to behold.
We had about 20-30 minutes to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding us and after taking hundreds of pictures including the inevitable selfies, we decided to sample the pure glacial water which is supposed to help you stay young!
One of our highlight experiences during our visit to Jasper National Park was enjoying the Glacier Adventure on the Athabasca Glacier courtesy of Brewster Travel Canada. After enjoying an epic “adventure on ice” we could be forgiven for thinking that the Glacier Skywalk couldn’t match this experience….we will be sharing our thoughts on that attraction soon but just to let you into a little secret, it’s pretty amazing too!
The Athabasca Glacier is the epitome of natural beauty, particularly if you have a fond love of glacial deposits and the environment that allowed these natural phenomena to thrive. The path of a glacier is of course determined by the geologic surroundings but your path out onto the Athabasca Glacier is solely your choice!
Don’t let the opportunity slip away from you because it’s an incredible sight that may not be around forever…especially given that it recedes approximately 10 meters every year. If you have to pick one adventure to enjoy while in the Canadian Rockies, be sure to check out Brewster Travel Canada and their amazing excursion on the Columbia Icefield.
Disclaimer – We would like to thank Tourism Jasper for providing us with tickets to experience the Glacier Adventure and Glacier Skywalk in exchange for consideration of a blog post review. These are solely our personal opinions/experiences and we were not financially compensated for this post.