7. Athabasca Glacier: Columbia Icefield Parkway Tour from Banff
Get picked up from your Banff hotel in a modern mini bus by your friendly guide. Departing from Banff, your friendly guide will welcome you on the tour with an overview of where you'll be headed as you sit back and enjoy the ride along the Icefields Parkway, one of the world’s most stunning scenic drives. Because you don’t have to navigate or watch the road, this tour lets you to focus on the amphitheatre of mountains towering above as you keep your eyes peeled for wildlife at the edges of the forest.
The highlight of the tour is the Glacier Adventure, located approximately halfway along the Icefields Parkway near the border of Jasper National Park. Stop at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre and board a bus that will take you to the specially designed 56-passenger Ice Explorer vehicle. Then, drive onto the Athabasca Glacier that is thousands of years old. After learning about the glacier along the way, enjoy 20 minutes of free time on the glacier to soak up the views, touch this ancient sheet of ice, and even drink pure, cold water straight from the glacier.
From here, head to the nearby glass floor Glacier Skywalk and follow the 1 kilometre walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot (280 m) drop. As you step out on the cliff-edge walkway, witness the giant glaciers perched above you and admire the views of the spectacular Sunwapta Valley spread out below.
After the Glacier Adventure component of the tour (around 3 hours in total), there will be a scenic stop (weather permitting) to enjoy your hearty packed lunch of a sandwich, juice, fruit, chips and brownies. Visit iconic landmarks along the Icefields Parkway such as Bow Lake, the headwaters of the mighty Bow River before heading back to Banff.