We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“After the Price Shock (and resultant heart surgery), It is a Good Time” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Columbia Ice Field

Columbia Ice Field
Columbia Ice Field Highway | Highway 1, Jasper, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
17808527034
Website
Improve this listing
Book ahead on Viator
Top Rated
$176*
and up
Best Columbia Icefield Tour including the Glacier...
Ranked #5 of 40 things to do in Jasper
Certificate of Excellence
Montgomery, Alabama
Level Contributor
82 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“After the Price Shock (and resultant heart surgery), It is a Good Time”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2014

Touring the Columbia Ice Field is not for the faint of pocketbook. Prior to getting into line, it is worth researching your purchase options, as there are 12 for each person in your group (a family of 3 has 36 possible combinations). This resulted in a 55-60 minute wait at the ticket desk, before waiting in lines elsewhere on the voyage. The full package (Skywalk, Banff Lake Cruise, Banff sky tram, and the Icefield) is the cheapest as long as you plan to do three of the four events.

Once your tickets are purchased, there is a place for lunch upstairs, which can often serve lunch or a snack inside the wait time people have before they board their buses. Once on the buses, there is no rest facilities available, so one should use the tiolet just before boarding. You take one regular bus to the drop off point where you take the Glacier coach onto the glacier. You spend approximately 10 min on the glacier before returning by the same shuttle schedule. Total round-trip time is around 90 minutes.

For the faint of heart, the glacial coach (the one with the big wheels) does drive you down a 32 percent grade incline onto the glacier. There are two degrees of safety involved, as the buses are certified to not tip over unless the road reaches a 35 percent grade. The steepness of this section is eyeopening.

Once out on the glacier, you stand on 770 feet of ice (when we visited 12 years ago it was over 1000 feet), and you are able to capture and witness some of the glacial melt. The water on the glacier is potable and is suitable for drinking. The last time that ice saw atmospheric contaminants was around 20,000 years ago, so it is likely more pure than anything available anywhere else.

The trip is entertaining. Good guides help you learn and get something out of the trip.

Note to visitors: Only an imbecile wears open-toed shoes when climbing onto a slab of ice 770 feet thick. Your feet will tread through a slush layer on top, the ice is cold (around 0 degrees), and the air temperature on the glacier is about 10 Celsius degrees below that at the visitor center..or about 20 Fahrenheit degrees. Jackets or other outwear are appropriate. Snowball fights do break out. Be ready, and enjoy.

Bottom line -- a waiting line that moved glacially (while in theme) was irksome enough and caused serious overcrowding in the visitors' building to make this less than a 5-star experience. The Glacier is worth seeing, however.

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

1,486 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    891
    406
    138
    37
    14
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
76 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Interesting tour not freezing but wear durable shoes.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2014

It was worth it to actually step out on a glacier and experience one up close. The ride consists of two bus rides, one short one from the center to the base of the glacier and the main event in the huge Glacier Bus. The drivers are all practicing stand up comics but they are extremely informative at the same time. The actual part you explore is very groomed daily so it's very slushy so flip flops are not a good idea. The tour make you pause and think about our environment.

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary
Level Contributor
53 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“It's melting fast...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2014

We are so lucky!, with the global warming we are helping to generate, we are very fortunate to see what the bottom of a glacier looks like. Columbia ice field is going fast. I’ve been there 6 years ago and last weekend. The melting rate is scary.

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Farmington, Utah
Level Contributor
19 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“No need to take the bus to enjoy the ice fields.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2014 via mobile

In contrast to most of the lush green hikes in Jasper, the hike to the bottom of the ice fields feels like walking on another planet. The gravel that has been left by the receding glacier has almost no vegetation growing on it. Creative visitors have taken the opportunity to compensate for this lack of landscape by creating hundreds of rock cairns in every possible configuration. This creates a unique photo opportunity. Take the time to build cairn of your own. The hike is easy and will take 30 minutes to an hour.

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Parkes, Australia
Level Contributor
16 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Amazing. Whats another word for Amazing???”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2014

If you drive through this place and dont go out on to the Ice Field, you are an absolute idiot. It is a highlight of the trip. We loved it.

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Columbia Ice Field also viewed

Jasper, Jasper National Park
Jasper, Jasper National Park
 
Jasper, Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
 

Been to Columbia Ice Field? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Columbia Ice Field, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.