Day #2 in Jasper • Stunning views! Took a stroll on the Athabasca Glacier in the Canadian Rockies and had a drink of pure glacier water!
Written By: Gretta Kennedy, Traveling Islanders
Location: Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies.
Featured Photo courtesy of: Brewster Travel
Train trip through the Canadian Rockies, a fantastic dining experience, a wonderful suite at our hotel and now a full day of exploration in Jasper National Park. This romantic getaway keeps getting better and better!
We had a couple of adventures our first day, starting with a Glacier Adventure and ending with the Glacier Skywalk.
The day was like any early Fall day in the mountains: crisp, cool and overcast. We hopped on a shuttle tour bus just outside our hotel that took us south out of Jasper and through the Athabasca River Valley.
We made a couple stops along the way to see the Athabasca falls and to check out a lookout point (WOW). The valley here is stunning.
The rugged peaks of the Canadian Rockies jutting up on both side of the highway and the trees changing colours made for a breath-taking 60 minute drive.
It’s not every day the opportunity arises to step out on a real glacier in the Canadian Rockies, so Jay and I jumped at the chance to try it!
The shuttle tour bus took us right to the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre which is directly across from the Athabasca glacier.
Athabasca glacier is fed by the massive Columbia Icefield which is roughly the size of the city of Vancouver!
This icefield sits right on top of the continental divide which means the melting waters travel southwest to the Pacific Ocean, north to the Arctic Ocean and east to Hudson Bay and eventually out to the Atlantic Ocean.
How cool is that?!
From the Icefield Discovery Centre we got on a bus that took us up the mountain to another bus. Only this second bus could hardly be called that.
It was a specialized all-terrain monstrosity specially designed to navigate the steep, rocky, icy terrain of all things glacier. This “bus” drives incredibly slow with huge tires and took us right onto the Athabasca Glacier.
This glacier adventure is perfect for the person who wants to try something outdoorsy without getting dirty or working too hard. The “bus” gives you the opportunity to go right out onto the glacier without needing to be young and physically fit.
A quick 15 minutes on the glacier gives people the chance to walk around, try some glacier water and enjoy being on the mountain.
Jay and I were longing for more time, but alas we were at the mercy of our returning tour bus… this time.
You’ve heard it said to never mess with a woman and her shoes, right?
Well, my shoes have taken me on all kinds of adventures and I wasn’t about to leave them at home, no matter what the weather. Some called me foolish, but when you’ve got Chacos sandals, you wear Chacos.
I didn’t even feel cold!
That is, until I decided to get some fresher than fresh glacier water to drink.
As I slid down the little ditch to get to the flowing water, I realized that my sandals may not have been the best choice for my glacier adventure.
But the water was worth it.
So absolutely cold and insanely fresh!
Glaciers are in constant motion and this one is no different. During the winter months it grows and during the summer it melts.
But it’s melting faster than it’s growing. It’s been slowly shrinking for the past 130 years and it is estimated that the glacier will only last another 100 years or so. So sad.
As you can see from the picture it’s amazing how fast this glacier is melting! So you better go see it soon before it’s gone.
Friends, the Glacier Adventure wasn’t so much an “adventure” for me as it was an experience.
I’m glad I got to do it, but man, was it ever quick! The real adventure came when I stepped off a cliff with nothing but glass and a 918 foot drop on the Glacier Skywalk just down the road!
Have you had a Glacier experience before? Start the ball rolling and comment below!
• We recommend renting a car at the Jasper train station so you can travel at your own pace. We found the tour option a little rushed for our liking. Be sure to make stops along the way at Athabasca & Sunwapta Falls and other must see view points. Before making the one hour journey to the Icefield Discovery Centre, stop by the Jasper visitor centre and ask about the must see spots along the drive.
• The Athabasca Glacier tour is 1 hour and 20 minutes, it was a very unique experience but we only spent 15 minutes on the glacier itself. A little quick for Jay’s and my liking… so if you are more of an outdoors person and you have the time, hiking to the glacier from the parking lot could be a good option and it’s free! The short trail is 1.0 KM (0.63 mile) return.
• Looking for more of an adventure? There are tour companies that will take you right to the top of the Canadian Rockies glacier by adding speciality designed attachments to your boots called crampons! I think Jay and I will try that next time!
• Bring your own food… unless you want to pay for over priced cafeteria food. There is also a restaurant at the Discover Centre that offers a buffet, but we found the food overpriced for the quality and service from what we observed.
While our experience with Brewster Travel – Columbia Icefield Adventure was complimentary, you can rest assured that our thoughts, opinions, and findings are our own as always.