Columbia Icefield Glacier Experience - What exactly is it?

The Columbia Icefield Snowcoach ride, or, as Brewster’s brochure calls it, the “Columbia Icefield Glacier Experience”, is a 90-minute ride on the biggest super-bus you’ve ever seen to one of the most accessible glaciers in the world.

It is amongst the most popular activities in Jasper National Park – and many Banff National Park visitors drive up for the Columbia Icefield Glacier Experience too.  It is worth it to experience this unique location while it lasts.  The Athabasca Glacier portion of the Columbia Icefield could be gone in a few decades.

The bus is called a “Snocoach” or “Ice Explorer”.  Only a handful of them are in existence – and all but 1 are at the Athabasca Glacier.  These monster buses tread delicately over the snow while the driver tells you the story of the Athabasca Glacier on the Columbia Icefield.

View from Athabasca GlacierA view from afarGlacier between mountains

The views are awe-inspiring.

Columbia Icefield Athabasca Glacier ride

The tour starts with a shuttle bus driving from the Icefield Centre to the edge of the Athabasca Glacier where you do a quick transfer to a Snocoach bus.  The Snocoach bus rides on the snow, driving a long way up and stopping at a look-out area.

Tourist and 4X4 Buses on the Glacier

Everyone gets out of the bus at the look-out area, looks around in awe, and most people touch the snow.  The air feels so clean up here.

Some people even try to drink some of the blue glacial melt water.

After hanging out on the glacier, everyone gets back in the bus and heads back.

It’s a relaxing, comfortable drive. It’s an attraction that anyone can do. It’s a way to experience a glacier, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, like just about everywhere in Jasper and Banff, the views are incredible. Pictures cannot do it justice.

Columbia Icefield ride

Columbia Icefield ride

Columbia Icefield Snowcoach Ride

Here’s the official video from Brewster, the company operating the tour.

YouTube Preview Image

Enjoy the glacier experience!

While at the Icefield Centre (where you get on the shuttle to the Snocoach), you can take a time-out and view the free glacier exhibit to learn about glaciers, the climate and the Canadian Rockies environment.  Afterward, have a meal at one of the two restaurants in the Icefield Centre.

Then, head back to Jasper townsite in Jasper Naational Park (north) or Banff National Park (south) on the Icefield Parkway, one of the most scenic roads in the world.

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