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Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park is one of the scenic highlights of Alberta’s Icefields Parkway, surrounded by some of the tallest mountain peaks in the Canadian Rockies. The glacier is one of the most accessible in North America, and standing on its surface is a thrill that has tempted many an Alberta hiker.
The safest way to experience the glacier up close is with the help of a tour operator or an expert. Our family chose Brewster Travel Canada’s Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure. As I boarded the company’s massive Ice Explorer vehicle with my husband and three of my children, I couldn’t help feeling a twinge of excitement. The kids bounced around in the four-wheel-drive bus, designed specially for glacier travel, and when it stopped on one of the thickest sections of ice, they quickly scampered outside.
It was a sunny day, and my husband and I were captivated by the amazing view before us. I assumed the kids were also enthralled with the view, until I turned around and discovered the boys submersing their arms in a small pool of glacial ice water. Their little sister, the wisest of the three at this point, was timing to see which of the two boys could keep his arm in the icy water the longest.
While the boys warmed up their red arms, we listened to our guide relate some of the history of Columbia Icefield, one of the largest accumulations of snow and ice south of the Arctic Circle. After some more exploration, we filed into the Ice Explorer, bouncing our way back to Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre with memories that lasted long after our boys’ arms resumed their usual color.
Glacier Adventure tours run 80 minutes and cost $55 per adult and $28 per child. Attraction combo tickets that include the Glacier Adventure, Banff Gondola, Banff Lake Cruise and Glacier Skywalk offer savings, as well. Both types of tickets are commissionable to travel agents if purchased in advance.
Brewster Travel Canadawww.brewster.ca