In Jasper National Park!

Columbia IcefieldsAmong Jasper’s top tourist attractions is the snow coach tour at the Columbia Icefields. Located only 87 km south of Becker’s Chalets (approximately 93 km from Jasper) on highway 93, the Icefields Parkway as it is often referred to, this once in a lifetime expedition is a must when travelling to Jasper National Park.

The Icefields Parkway, highway 93, is one that is known worldwide. Due to its immense jagged mountain peaks, blanketed in snow and ice, along with the variety of wildlife (including but not limited to mountain goats and mountain sheep,) this scenic drive has been rated among one of the best in the world.

It all begins with bus ride on an immense ice explorer (a vehicle that resemble a bus, however specifically designed to travel on glaciers), which brings you up on the Athabasca Glacier. Throughout this exhilarating bus trip, your guide will provide you with plenty of  captivating information regarding the Columbia Icefields, Angel Glacier, and surrounding mountains to name a few. Once there, you have the opportunity to walk on the glacial ice and snow, while taking as many memorable photos as you wish.

At the main information building, where you can purchase your tickets to go on the snow coach tour, you have access to a variety of very informative and interesting information, bathrooms, restaurant, hotel, and gift shop. Here you will find all sorts of paraphernalia to remind you of your exciting adventure, from clothing to snow coach bus toys to snow globes, to name a few. The restaurant has a variety of items to offer, including hot tea, coffee and hot chocolate to warm you after a cool excursion on the glacier.

Among the information that you will find here is the story of how the Columbia Icefields began. It will explain that during the Great Glaciation is when the Columbia Icefield was originally formed. About the time man began to roam the earth, during the Early Wisconsinan period, the initial advancement of the icefield ended. Following this is the Late Wisconsinan period, which was the icefields next major advancement. Civilization and farming by man was learned during the Crowfoot Glacier advancement. Following this is the Little Ice Age, which was the last major period of advancement for the icefield. The Athabasca Glacier peaked about 1800, then went through a recession period. Until 1840, the icefield advanced its final time. Since then it has been receding and continues to do to this day.

During the summer months, it is ideal to visit the Columbia Icefields somewhat prepared. Due to its elevation, most times the temperatures are significantly cooler compared to nearby towns and attractions, at lower elevations. The Columbia Icefields feeds both the North Saskatchewan River and the Athabasca River. Since these rivers are glacially fed, it is no surprise that the risk of hypothermia is significant when going into these waters (such as for rafting).

With lots of things to see and explore, this is one attraction like no other. Being able to touch and feel snow and ice (possibly for the first time, depending on where you’re coming from), travelling on a gigantic ice explorer and seeing the vast mountain peaks along with a historical glacier, this is one experience that you do not want to miss!