comScore
Columbia Icefield picture in Banff
Columbia Icefield picture in Banff
Columbia Icefield picture in Banff
Columbia Icefield picture in Banff
Columbia Icefield picture in Banff
Columbia Icefield picture in Banff

Price & Hours

  • CA$99 (about $77) for adults 16 and older; CA$50 (approximately $38) for children 6-15; free for kids 5 and younger
  • 9 or 10 a.m.-4, 5 or 6 p.m. daily

Details

  • Natural Wonders, Tours Type
  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
3.9
Overall
US NEWS LOGO

Scorecard

  • Value
    2.5
  • Facilities
    4.0
  • Atmosphere
    5.0

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

Covering 130 square miles on the southern edge of Banff National Park, the Columbia Icefield is the largest body of ice in the Canadian Rockies. It's a bit of a drive from Banff Town (about 2 ½ hours), but you'll quickly find the views are well worth the trip. Seasonal tour buses are available from Banff Town (such as this one offered by Discover Banff Tours and Brewster Sightseeing), but consider driving the Icefields Parkway (Route 93) north from Banff to enjoy the stunning trip, which is considered among the most scenic drives in the world. Along the way, you'll spot turquoise lakes, rushing waterfalls and impressive glaciers.

Whether you come on a tour or drive yourself, once you arrive, you'll hop on an Ice Explorer – a specialized bus that's equipped to handle the icy terrain – which will transport you out onto the glacier (an 80-minute journey), where you'll be allowed 20 minutes to explore. Departing Ice Explorers leave the Athabasca Glacier every 15 to 30 minutes. If you're short on time, you can purchase tickets for the Glacier Skywalk, a glass-floored observation platform that sits 918 feet over the Sunwapta Valley.

Recent visitors said this is a can't-miss sight in the Rocky Mountains, calling the glacier "breathtaking" and the guides informative and entertaining. If it's an experience you know you want to do, reviewers suggested booking tickets in advance as the tours – operated by Brewster Travel Canada – can get crowded and you may have to wait a few hours before departing on your tour if you neglect to reserve a spot. The crowds, along with the steep ticket prices, were a common gripe among visitors. 

Tours are available daily from mid-April to mid-October; hours vary by month, but generally tours operate from 9 or 10 a.m. to 4, 5 or 6 p.m. It's recommended that you set aside three hours for the excursion, and wear layers and appropriate shoes (sneakers or hiking boots are best). Tickets for the combined Glacier Skywalk and Ice Explorer Glacier Tour cost CA$99 (about $77) for adults 16 and older; the experience costs CA$50 (approximately $38) for children between the ages of 6 and 15. You can save 10 percent when you book in advance online. If you decide to drive, you'll find ample parking is available at the Glacier Discovery Centre, where the Ice Explorers depart. For information, visit the Brewster Travel Canada website.

Powered by Viator See more Tours & Tickets

More Best Things to Do in Banff

Skiing in the Continental Divide picture in Banff
Hiking, Recreation, Skiing Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Banff Gondola Descent picture in Banff
Hiking, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Canoes at Moraine Lake picture in Banff
Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Lake Louise Ski Area picture in Banff
Hiking, Recreation, Skiing Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
Mount Norquay picture in Banff
Skiing Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Rafting the Bow River picture in Banff
Recreation, Sightseeing, Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Valley of the Ten Peaks picture in Banff
Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Columbia Icefield picture in Banff
Natural Wonders, Tours Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Banff Upper Hot Springs picture in Banff
Spas, Swimming/Pools Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Cave and Basin National Historic Site picture in Banff
Natural Wonders, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies picture in Banff
Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
View of Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum picture in Banff
Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Banff Park Museum picture in Banff
Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Lake Minnewanka picture in Banff
Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Banff Legacy Trail picture in Banff
Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
|

#1 Sunshine Village Located miles 11 miles west of Banff Town, Sunshine Village offers 12 lifts, more than 3,300 skiable acres and a peak elevation of 7,200 feet. And thanks to its ... Read more » Steven Olmstead Photography / Getty Images

#2 Banff Gondola The Banff Gondola is a relaxing way to experience the town's natural beauty. The eight-minute ride to the summit of 7,500-foot Sulphur Mountain leads to breathtaking views of ... Read more » YinYang / Getty Images

#3 Moraine Lake Located about an hour's drive north of town, Moraine Lake is the visual highlight of any Banff trip and labeled a must-see bucket list item by many recent visitors ... Read more » Philipp Hilpert / Getty Images

#4 Lake Louise Ski Resort The Lake Louise Ski Area is one of Banff's most popular ski locales and one of the largest ski areas in North America. It encompasses three mountains, 145 runs  ... Read more » Karl Weatherly / Getty Images

#5 Mount Norquay Although it is the smallest of Banff's three ski areas, Mount Norquay is also the closest – it's about 5 miles northwest of Banff Town. Beyond its convenient location ... Read more » Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

#6 Whitewater Rafting & Float Trips When you're not admiring Banff's stunning scenery from a hiking trail or in the comfort of your car, get out on one of its rivers. Whether you're ... Read more » Chasing Light Photography Thomas Vela / Getty Images

#7 Hiking Though Banff is perhaps best known for its stellar slopes (it's considered one of the world's best ski destinations), its hiking trails are just as impressive – and free to ... Read more » Marko Stavric Photography / Getty Images

#8 Columbia Icefield Covering 130 square miles on the southern edge of Banff National Park, the Columbia Icefield is the largest body of ice in the Canadian Rockies. It's a bit of a ... Read more » Nick Ocean Photography / Getty Images

#9 Banff Upper Hot Springs These springs, which were first discovered by Canada's First Nations people prior to the 1880s, were regarded as sacred waters that could cure illness and maintain health. Now, the ... Read more » sheyneg / Flickr

#10 Cave and Basin National Historic Site This is a popular attraction among nature lovers and history buffs alike. Experts refer to this site as the birthplace of Banff National Park and the natural hot springs have ... Read more » Jairo Leiva / Getty Images

#11 Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies Located just a block back from Banff Avenue on Bear Street, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is the only museum of its kind. Named after its patrons, Peter ... Read more » Allan Harris / Flickr

#12 Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum Having opened in 1952, the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum has dedicated more than 50 years to educating visitors about the contributions made by native people in the area. Brace yourself ... Read more » Pete Brewster / Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum

# Banff Park Museum Read more » SHAWSHANK61 / Getty Images

# Lake Minnewanka Read more » Achim Mittler, Frankfurt am Main / Getty Images

# Banff Legacy Trail Read more » GibsonPictures / Getty Images

Skiing in the Continental Divide picture in Banff
Banff Gondola Descent picture in Banff
Canoes at Moraine Lake picture in Banff
Lake Louise Ski Area picture in Banff
Mount Norquay picture in Banff
Rafting the Bow River picture in Banff
Valley of the Ten Peaks picture in Banff
Columbia Icefield picture in Banff
Banff Upper Hot Springs picture in Banff
Cave and Basin National Historic Site picture in Banff
The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies picture in Banff
View of Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum picture in Banff
Banff Park Museum picture in Banff
Lake Minnewanka picture in Banff
Banff Legacy Trail picture in Banff
Skiing in the Continental Divide picture in Banff
Banff Gondola Descent picture in Banff
Canoes at Moraine Lake picture in Banff
Lake Louise Ski Area picture in Banff
Mount Norquay picture in Banff
Rafting the Bow River picture in Banff
Valley of the Ten Peaks picture in Banff
Columbia Icefield picture in Banff
Banff Upper Hot Springs picture in Banff
Cave and Basin National Historic Site picture in Banff
The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies picture in Banff
View of Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum picture in Banff
Banff Park Museum picture in Banff
Lake Minnewanka picture in Banff
Banff Legacy Trail picture in Banff

Sunshine Village sits on the Continental Divide, offering a unique experience for powder hounds. Steven Olmstead Photography / Getty Images

A ride on the Banff Gondola offers breathtaking views of the town and the surrounding landscape. YinYang / Getty Images

Moraine Lake is located about 45 miles northwest of Banff Town along the Trans-Canada Highway. Philipp Hilpert / Getty Images

The Lake Louise Ski Area is Banff's largest skiing spot with 4,200 acres of skiable terrain. Karl Weatherly / Getty Images

Although it is the smallest of Banff's three ski areas, Mount Norquay is lauded as the best skiing locale for families. Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Whether you're craving the excitement of a whitewater rafting adventure or just want to peacefully glide through the water, you'll find Banff tour operators satisfy a variety of interests. Chasing Light Photography Thomas Vela / Getty Images

Though Banff is perhaps best known for its stellar slopes, its hiking trails are just as impressive (and free to access). Marko Stavric Photography / Getty Images

The Columbia Icefield is the largest body of ice in the Canadian Rockies. Nick Ocean Photography / Getty Images

Recent visitors described the Banff Upper Hot Springs as "relaxing" and a "must-do" when in Banff.  sheyneg / Flickr

Historians refer to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site as the birthplace of Banff National Park. Jairo Leiva / Getty Images

In the "Gateway to the Rockies" exhibition at the Whyte Museum, visitors learn about the culutre and history of the Canadian Rockies through artworks, archival photographs, recordings, documents and artifacts, such as this full-size helicopter. Allan Harris / Flickr

Pete Brewster / Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum

The Banff Park Museum is a National Historic Site housing more than 5,000 historic botanical and zoological specimens. You'll find it in Banff Town. SHAWSHANK61 / Getty Images

Lake Minnewanka is the only lake within the national park to permit limited use of power boats. Travelers can take scenic boat cruises from mid-May to mid-October. Achim Mittler, Frankfurt am Main / Getty Images

The stunning Banff Legacy Trail runs from the Banff Park East Gate to the Bow Valley Parkway. GibsonPictures / Getty Images

×

See full list of Best Things to Do in Banff »

Explore More of Banff

Find the Best Price

Enter your check in and check out dates to find the best price

PriceFinder powered by TripAdvisor Primary Logo