The Columbia Icefield Skywalk, also known as the Jasper Skywalk, is the latest tourist attraction unveiled in Jasper National Park. The Jasper Skywalk is a glass-bottomed bridge that extends out from a cliff edge at the height of nearly 300 meters from the valley floor down below.
Visitors will receive a thrill as they look down to unencumbered views down below the Jasper glass bridge and out to dizzying peaks topped by glaciers.
The Columbia Icefield Skywalk is heavily advertised, and it will certainly pique the interest of many. It’s also included in a combo ticket with the Athabasca Glacier Experience, Banff Gondola, and a cruise on Lake Minnewanka or Maligne Lake.
We share in this post what to expect from a Glacier Skywalk Jasper experience and whether it’s worth a visit.
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Columbia Icefield Skywalk General Information
The Columbia Icefield Skywalk is a glass-bottomed bridge just north of the Athabasca Icefield and is a popular stop on the Icefield Parkway. Which happens to be the most accessible glacier in Banff National Park and 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.
You have the option to book any of the experiences separately other than the interactive walk on the Glacier, which is sold with Glacier Adventure Experience.
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 it’s best to purchase your tickets in advance 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.
After the walk to the glass-bottomed bridge, it’s a short but thrilling walk for many as they peer down on the valley far below. 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 300 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. From the distance the scale of Mount Athabasca, Andromeda, and glimpses of the Columbia Icefield high above on Mt. Kitchener.
While the views are certainly 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 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. In 2021, the Columbia Icefield Skywalk is open from May 15 to October 17, 2021. Please keep in mind the Columbia Icefield Skywalk will close if conditions are truly adverse.
Individual Ticket Prices for the Columbia Icefield Skywalk
|Kids (Under 5)||Free|
Ticket prices for the Jasper Skywalk may vary by a few dollars due to demand and season.
Book a Tour from Banff: Columbia Icefield Tour including the Glacier Skywalk
Is the Columbia Icefield Skywalk Worth it?
We can’t help but feel what is the point of the Jasper Skywalk? I’d say for the vast majority of visitors to 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.
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 no brainer to forgo the skywalk as hikes in Banff and hikes in Jasper and surrounding area offer far better views than the Columbia Icefield Skywalk. If you want a memorable hike that takes a few hours, hike the nearby Wilcox Pass or 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!
Is the “Glacier Skywalk” in Banff or Jasper?
Some people call the Jasper Skywalk, the “Banff Skywalk.” However the Icefield Skywalk is not technically in Banff. 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 Icefields Center. So calling this attraction the “Banff Skywalk” may confuse people.
When is the Best Time to Visit?
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.
Where to Stay Near the Jasper Skywalk?
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.
Go Big and Climb 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.
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. If you’re wondering what to do in Jasper on your Canadian vacation, we have you covered.
Hopefully, this helped you determine if you want to stay 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.
Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. World Nomads offers competitive rates for all travelers.
- Hotels in the Rockies: From luxury hotels to wilderness cabins, there are plenty of places to stay in the Rockies. See all our favorites here.
- Pack for the Rockies: See our full Alberta packing list here.
- Get Around: We suggest either renting a car to get around, or embarking on an epic campervan trip with companies like Outdoorsy.
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The Banff Blog Facebook Group is your headquarters for the Canadian Rockies travel advice and information. Including hike info and off-season travel information. This is also a place where you can meet one another when you need adventure buddies.