Family fun in Alberta in 48 hours or less

Family fun in Alberta in 48 hours or less

The Majestic Columbia Icefields: A Family Adventure

Columbia Icefields Skywalk. Credit: Pursuit Collection / Mike Seehagel

The Columbia Icefields are one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the Canadian Rockies, offering a unique and awe-inspiring experience for visitors of all ages.

Here’s everything you need to know about the history, formation, and attractions of the Columbia Icefields, and why it should be on your family’s travel itinerary.

Brewster Travel Canada

History and Formation

The Columbia Icefields, located in Jasper National Park, are one of the largest icefields in North America, covering approximately 325 square kilometers. These ancient icefields were formed during the last Ice Age, about 240,000 years ago, and have been sculpted over millennia by the forces of nature. The icefields feed eight major glaciers, including the Athabasca, Dome, and Stutfield glaciers.

The area was first brought to public attention in the early 20th century by explorers such as A.O. Wheeler and Dr. J. Norman Collie, who were captivated by the sheer scale and beauty of the icefields. By the 1930s, the site became more accessible to the public, and tourism infrastructure began to develop, allowing more people to witness this natural marvel.

Pursuit Collection / Mike Seehagel

Features and Attractions

1. Athabasca Glacier

One of the most accessible glaciers in the world, the Athabasca Glacier is a highlight of the Columbia Icefields. Families can take guided ice explorer tours that travel right onto the glacier, offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience to walk on ancient ice.

2. Glacier Skywalk

This thrilling cliff-edge walkway offers stunning views of the Sunwapta Valley and a glass-floored observation platform that extends over the edge of the valley, providing a unique perspective of the icefields and surrounding landscape.

3. Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre

The hub for all glacier adventures, this center offers interpretive exhibits, guided tours, and all necessary amenities for visitors. It’s a great starting point for your icefield exploration.

Pursuit / Mike Seehagel

4. Guided Hikes and Tours

Several guided hikes and tours are available for families, ranging from easy walks to more challenging treks, allowing everyone to explore the icefields safely and enjoyably.

Visiting the Columbia Icefields is not just an adventure; it’s an educational experience.

Travel Alberta/Sean Thonson

How to Visit

Getting There: The Columbia Icefields are located along the Icefields Parkway, one of the most scenic drives in the world, connecting Jasper and Banff National Parks. The Discovery Centre is approximately 100 kilometers south of Jasper and 130 kilometers north of Lake Louise.

Where to Stay:

Glacier View Lodge: Located at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre, this lodge offers stunning views and immediate access to glacier tours.

Accommodations in Jasper or Lake Louise: Both towns offer a range of family-friendly accommodations from hotels to cabins.

Booking Tours:

Tours can be booked directly through the Banff Jasper Collection website, offering a range of packages for different interests and budgets.

Pursuit Collection / Mike Seehagel

What to Bring and Wear

Warm Clothing: Even in summer, the glacier can be very cold. Dress in layers and bring a waterproof jacket.

Sturdy Footwear: Wear hiking boots or sturdy shoes with good grip.

Sunglasses and Sunscreen: The reflection off the ice can be intense.

Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated and bring snacks for energy.

Camera: Capture the stunning scenery and memorable moments.


The Columbia Icefields offer a unique blend of adventure, education, and natural beauty, making it a perfect destination for families. From walking on glaciers to marveling at panoramic views, every moment spent here is bound to be unforgettable. Start planning your family adventure to the Columbia Icefields today and immerse yourself in one of Canada’s most spectacular natural wonders.

Pursuit Collection / Mike Seehagel