Is the Columbia Icefield Skywalk Worth It? (Jasper Skywalk)

The Columbia Icefield Skywalk, also known as the Jasper Skywalk or Glacier Skywalk, is a popular tourist attraction in Jasper National Park. The Jasper Skywalk is a glass-bottomed bridge that extends out from a cliff edge at a height of nearly 300 meters from the valley floor down below.

Visitors will be thrilled as they look down to unencumbered views below the Jasper glass bridge and out to dizzying peaks topped by glaciers. The Columbia Icefield Skywalk is heavily advertised, and it will undoubtedly pique the interest of many. A ticket on the Jasper Skywalk can be purchased separately or included in a combo ticket with the Athabasca Glacier Experience, Banff Gondola, and a cruise on Lake Minnewanka or Maligne Lake.

You can not park at the Columbia Icefield Skywalk, but you can catch a shuttle bus at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Center with a confirmed booking. In this post, we share what to expect from a Glacier Skywalk experience and whether it’s worth a visit.

See Also:


Columbia Icefield Skywalk General Information

Glacier-Skywalk-Things-To-Do-in-Banff
Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection

The Columbia Icefield Skywalk is a glass-bottomed bridge just north of the Athabasca Icefield and is a popular stop on the Icefield Parkway. Athabasca Glacier happens to be the most accessible glacier in the Canadian Rockies and is well worth a stop.

From the Glacier Discovery Center, visitors have the opportunity to grab lunch, shop, hop on a tour, or even spend the night at a nearby Jasper Campground or Glacier View Lodge. The center serves as a hub for the Columbia Glacier Adventure Experience, Glacier Walk, and the Jasper Skywalk.

Mike Seehagel / Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection

While the Jasper Skywalk ticket can be purchased individually, The Jasper Skywalk is also included in Pursuit’s Columbia Icefield Discovery Tour, including the Ice Explorer Tour. That experience allows visitors to ride in massive monster trucks on the Athabasca Glacier, where they’re able to stand in a large lot on the glacier. This all unfolds beneath one of the most famous mountains in the Canadian Rockies, Mount Athabasca.

Tickets for the experiences operate on time slots, so purchasing your tickets in advance is best to avoid a long wait or the tickets being sold out entirely. According to your ticketed time, you’ll board a bus at the Glacier Discovery Center that will drive you to the Jasper Skywalk. It’s 6 km away from the Glacier Discovery Center and does not offer views of the Athabasca Glacier, but instead the Sunwapta Valley.

The Icefield Skywalk is a kilometer-long walk that first moves along interactive displays where guests learn about the natural process that formed the Rockies along with the fossils. You follow along through an audio guide available in a wide range of languages that should cover most visitors.

The walk on the glass-bottomed bridge is short but thrilling for many as they peer down on the valley far below. There is no need to worry about safety as these glass panels are literally bulletproof and then some. If you’re scared of heights, it may make your heart skip a beat as the view down to the valley floor 918 feet (280 meters) below can be dizzying.

The bridge is shaped in a large semi-circle that offers 270° views of the sweeping valley. Off in the distance, you can see the glaciers far off in the distance that you left at the Discovery Center. In the distance, you can see the scale of Mount Athabasca, Andromeda, and glimpses of the Columbia Icefield high above Mt. Kitchener.

Parker Ridge Hike
Parker Ridge Hike

While the views are enviable, they are not the jaw-dropping views some might expect. We regularly find and experience far better views on the free hikes in the Canadian Rockies. A nice feature of the Icefield Skywalk is its wheelchair accessibility; handicapped users can get the same thrilling views. The only other area where it’s possible to do this is at the Banff Gondola, managed by the same company, so we applaud them for making natural beauty more accessible to all.


When is the Columbia Icefield Skywalk Open?

The Icefield Skywalk closes in the winter months due to dangers on the Icefield Parkway in the winter and decreased demand. However, it opens in the spring and runs until the fall.

The official dates are always subject to the season and weather. 2023 the Columbia Icefield Skywalk will open from May 7th to October 9, 2023. Please keep in mind the Columbia Icefield Skywalk will close if conditions are truly adverse.


How Much Does The Columbia Icefield Skywalk Cost?

Tickets for the Columbia Icefield Skywalk can be purchased separately or as part of the Columbia Icefield Adventure ticket, which includes the Ice Explorer and Skywalk. There are also multiple combo tickets available, which sometimes includes attractions like the Maligne Lake Cruise or Golden Skywalk.

Skywalk Admission$37.00/adult
$24.05/ child
Columbia Icefield Adventure (Skywalk + Ice Explorer)$97.00/adult
$63.05/child
Pursuit Pass Banff Gondola + Columbia Icefield Adventure$140.00/adult
$91.00/child
Pursuit Pass Rockies
Banff Gondola, Lake Minnewanka Cruise, Columbia Icefield Adventure – Including Skywalk, Maligne Lake Cruise, Golden Skybridge
$249.00/adult
$161.86/child
Pursuit Pass Rockies Value
Banff Gondola anytime, Lake Minnewanka Cruise after 3:30 pm, Columbia Icefield Adventure – Including Skywalk after 3:30 pm, Maligne Lake Cruise after 3:30 pm, Golden Skybridge after 3:30 pm.
$199.00/adult
$129.34/child
Pursuit Pass Jasper
Columbia Icefield Adventure – including Skywalk+ Maligne Lake Cruise
$146.00/adult
$94.90/child
Ticket prices for the Jasper Skywalk may vary by a few dollars due to demand and season.


Are There Skywalk Deals?

Icefield Skywalk In Rain

Go Off-Peak! Pursuit offers discounted tickets for those that go in off-peak times. Enjoy the early morning light on the glacier daily before 12 pm and only pay $85 per adult and $55.25 for children.

Pursuit Rewards Admission Alberta locals save on Columbia Icefield Skywalk admission with Pursuit Rewards.


Where Should I Book My Skywalk Ticket?

Columbia-Icefield-Discovery-Centre

There are numerous places to book your ticket for this experience. First, we recommend checking out the Banff Jasper Collection Website, which will give you a rundown of all the offerings. This is the company that runs the tours; it is a legitimate company operating in the Canadian Rockies, and there should be no hesitation in booking with them.

You can also book full-day and individual tours through third parties like Viator and Get Your Guide. We use these third-party platforms all over the world and always appreciate their excellent service.


Do I Need A Parks Pass to Visit?

Icefields Parkway At Glacier Discovery Center

All visitors need a Parks Canada Pass to access Banff or Jasper. You can purchase a Parks Canada pass at any park gate, as you get onto the Icefields Parkway in either direction. Or you can buy Parks Canada passes in advance online. A Parks Canada Discovery Pass, which gets you entrance to all Parks Canada destinations for the year, is only $145.25 for a family.

Day passes are $10.50 per person, so depending on how many days you are staying and if you have plans to go to Banff, you may want to consider the Discover Pass.

Parks Canada Day Passes

Adult: $10.50
Senior: $9
Youth (up to 17): Free
Family/group of 7 people: $21.00
Day passes expire at 4 pm the following day.

ULTIMATE Guide To Purchasing A Banff Park Pass (Parks Canada Pass)


Can I do the Columbia Icefield Skywalk as a single Experience?

Yes, you can book the Skywalk as a single experience if you are short on time.


Should You Book the Jasper Skwalk in Advance?

Columbia Icefield Skywalk

During peak season and peak times, the Jasper Skywalk does sell out, so we recommend booking in advance to avoid waiting in lines or waiting for an open timeslot.


Can I Experience the Columbia Icefield Tour in Other Languages?

Audio tours are available in 9 languages via an audio app. See that information here.


Is the “Glacier Skywalk” in Banff or Jasper?

Icefields Parkway

There are many names for “The Skywalk,” including the Columbia Icefield Skywalk, Glacier Skywalk and Jasper Skywalk. Some people call the Jasper Skywalk the “Banff Skywalk.” However, the Icefield Skywalk is not technically in Banff and is located in Jasper National Park. It is close though, so we get the confusion.

However, if driving the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper you enter Jasper National Park right before reaching the Icefield Discovery Center. So calling this attraction the “Banff Skywalk” may confuse people.


When is the Best Time to Visit the Glacier Skywalk?

To avoid crowds at the Columbia Icefield Skywalk, it’s best to be on one of the first tours of the day or the last. Of course, if you are driving between Banff and Jasper, this isn’t always possible.

Opening Times for the Jasper Skywalk

May 6 – May 1911 AM – 5 PM
May 20 – September 3010 AM – 6 PM
October 1 – 911 AM – 5 PM

Where Should You Park for the Columbia Icefield Skywalk?

All vehicles and visitors must park at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre. You can not park at the Skywalk, and you can not park on the road. From there, visitors can check in and take the included shuttle from the Centre. Tours depart every hour from the Columbia Icefield Centre.


Where is the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre?

Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre
Source: banffjaspercollection.com

The Glacier Discovery Centre is located on the Icefields Parkway—1 hour south of Jasper and 2.5 hours north of Banff.

From Banff, travel 55 km west on the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) to Lake Louise. Then it’s another 125 km north from Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway to the Columbia Icefield. Along the way you’ll pass so many great stops like Bow Lake and Peyto Lake, so make sure to read out guide for the best stops

From Jasper, travel 108 km south on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93 N) to the Columbia Icefield.

Here is the location on Google Maps

**All vehicles must park at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre when visiting the Columbia Icefield Adventure and Skywalk. Visitors to the Skywalk must take the included shuttle from the Centre.


Is the Columbia Icefield Skywalk Wheelchair Accessible?

Columbia Icefield Skywalk

Yes, the Skywalk is wheelchair accessible. The Skywalk was intentionally designed to be entirely flat and accessible to people using wheelchairs, pushchairs, and walkers, ensuring that all visitors to the park can have an enjoyable experience!

The buses running from the Discovery Center to the Skywalk are also equipped to accommodate individuals using wheelchairs and scooters. Those who use wheelchairs can participate in the Ice Explorer experience, which involves traveling onto the Athabasca Glacier.

Two vans are available that have lifts to assist guests in wheelchairs to access the glacier safely. Afterward, the vans can transport them securely to the Skywalk. It’s best to inform staff beforehand if you need this assistance.


Is the Columbia Icefield Skywalk Pet Friendly?

Neither the Skywalk or the Icefield Adventure are pet friendly.


How Long Does it Take to Visit the Icefield Skywalk?

Icefield Skywalk

It’s likely you’ll spend about 30-45 minutes actually on the Skywalk. The Skywalk is 400 metres (¼ mile) from one end to the other. If you do the full trail from one end to the other and back, you’ll be walking 800 metres (½ mile). Of course you can spend more or less time on the Skywalk, but you’ll for sure want to soak up all the incredible views, so I would plan for more time rather than less.

That being said you’ll have a set time slot with your booking, and you should arrive to the Discover Center around this time to depart. Buses depart every 15-30 minutes and take under 10 minutes to reach the Skywalk. So the whole experience including to and from the Skywalk will take 1-1.5 hours. If you are enjoying the entire Columbia Icefield Adventure (including the all-terrain Ice Explorer) expect the experience to take between 3-4 hours.

Have a stress-free time knowing you are free to take your time to explore and there are no time restrictions. Buses run frequently throughout the day back to the Discovery Centre.


How High is the Columbia Icefield Skywalk?

The Columbia Icefield Skywalk’s glass-floor platform sits at altitude of approximately 280 meters (918 feet) above the valley floor. The Discovery Vista, a glass-floored platform, juts out 35 meters (115 feet) from the edge of the cliff face.


Is The Columbia Icefield Skywalk Worth It?

We can’t help but feel what is the point of the Jasper Skywalk? For the vast majority of visitors, I’d say save your money and give the Columbia Icefield Skywalk a skip.

However, for handicapped visitors, its wheelchair accessibility is notable, and they may find good value as hiking or climbing a mountain is not in the cards. That being said, we’d recommend the Banff Gondola over the Icefield Skywalk as the views are better, especially since you get a similar view to the Columbia Icefield Skywalk from the road.

Empty And Rainy Icefield Skywalk

Upon the initial launch of the Columbia Icefield Skywalk, it was called the Glacier Skywalk, but considering its limited views of glaciers, the name was changed to the Columbia Icefield Skywalk.

If you’re capable of hiking, it’s a no-brainer to forgo the skywalk, as hikes in Banff and hikes in Jasper and the surrounding area offer far better views than the Columbia Icefield Skywalk. If you want a memorable hike that takes a few hours, hike Parker Ridge or Wilcox Pass nearby.

Parker Ridge Hike

In short, and in our opinion, the price or even your time is not worth the stop of Columbia Icefield Skywalk. You can also park at the Athabasca Glacier and take a short walk to the terminal of the Athabasca Glacier for free.

However, everyone is different, and if you want to walk on a glass-bottom platform, the Rockies are a great place to do it! If you’re traveling to the Canadian Rockies with kids, the Jasper Skywalk will likely get them excited as well!


Where to Stay Near the Jasper Skywalk?

The Glacier View Lodge

There aren’t a plethora of options in this remote section of the world. In fact, besides camping, there is only one hotel near the Athabasca Glacier, and that is the luxurious Glacier View Lodge. Besides that, you can book the HI Rampart Creek Hostel near the Saskatchewan River Crossing or the Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge at Sunwapta Falls.


Go Big and Climb Mount Athabasca

Natasha on Mount Athabasca

If you want the best view of glaciers in the Canadian Rockies you cannot beat the views from one of the major mountain peaks, Mount Athabasca. Mountaineering has found a home in the Canadian Rockies, and many learn their mountaineering skills here.

We took a mountaineering course over a long weekend where we learned the basics of mountaineering, including glacier travel and crevasse rescue. On the last day, we summited Mount Athabasca for extraordinary views of glaciers and peaks most visitors and locals will never see.

If you have the time and are interested in learning the basics of Mountaineering, Yamnuska runs fantastic courses. Although it’s best to have some hiking in the Canadian Rockies under your belt before attempting this summit.

Learn More About A Mountaineering Course


Other Things to do in Jasper

Jasper National Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Canada. Like its southern sister, Banff, there are many things to do in Jasper all year round.

In the summertime, you can easily grab a canoe and paddle your way around one of the many mountain lakes, or in the winter in Jasper, you can take a drive on the stunning Icefields Parkway. We have you covered if you’re wondering what to do in Jasper on your Canadian vacation.


Hopefully, this helped you determine if you want to enjoy the Columbia Icefield Skywalk.

If you have any other questions, leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, and everything else.

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About Cameron

Cameron is a resident of Canmore, Alberta. After traveling the world for six years, he settled down in the beautiful Bow Valley with Natasha. He has been featured as a travel expert with numerous publications worldwide and has spoken on several occasions about the power of travel. He has a passion for all things in the Canadian Rockies and loves to spend his time snowboarding, scrambling, camping, biking, and trail running. Conservation is a deep fundamental in his life, and he aims to inspire others to care about our natural world. You can learn more on the about us page.

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2 thoughts on “Is the Columbia Icefield Skywalk Worth It? (Jasper Skywalk)”

  1. Totally agree with you ..not worth the visit…We also walked to the glacier instead….We didn’t expect the Skywalk to be just off the highway…expected so much more for the price….

    Reply

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