This Victoria Day weekend we went camping in Jasper National Park and explored along the Icefields Parkway for the first time. I was able to check off one of my bucket list items from our move to Alberta: walking on the Columbia Icefield Skywalk. I’ve been itching to do this since it was first built in 2014 and when we decided to move out here I knew it was something I couldn’t miss. Keep reading to learn what to expect, how we felt, and whether it was worth it!
We arrived at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre on Highway 93 around 5:30 pm for our 6:00 ticket to the Skywalk. The Discovery Centre is about an hour south of Jasper along one of the most scenic highways in the entire world. We skipped the Glacier Tour this time but just seeing the Athabasca Glacier was an incredible experience in itself. We took some time to look at the interpretive signs around the Discovery Centre to learn about the path that the glacier has carved over time. We hopped on the tour bus that takes you to the Skywalk and there was only one other couple with us– I think the lack of tourists was partly due to how early in the season it is and the effects of Covid-19 on travel– and we were grateful for the more personal experience this offered.
Tickets to the Skywalk are approximately $33 CAD per adult and $29 CAD per adult for Alberta residents. It’s about half price for children. The tour bus takes you a few kilometres up the highway to the Skywalk and the driver shares some interesting facts about the glacier, the surrounding mountains, and the Skywalk. There are washroom facilities and a bus shelter at the Skywalk site but no other amenities so if you want water or a snack you’ll have to get it beforehand.
The Skywalk is about 918 ft above the floor of the Sunwapta Valley with striking views of the surrounding mountains. From the bus drop-off, the Skywalk doesn’t look like much, but as you get closer, you begin to get an understanding of what you’ve gotten yourself into. We took our time walking over, reading the interpretive signs that describe the process of constructing the Skywalk, the geological features in the area, and the history of glaciation.
When I first stepped onto the Skywalk, my legs got that weak, wobbly, noodle-y feeling. It was a lot for my brain to process and it was dizzying. It reminded me a lot of the glass floor at the CN Tower, but swap the cityscape for a mountain valley. It was such a rush. I was so glad we were two of about eight people total out there– no crowds meant we almost had the whole place to ourselves. Once I got over the initial adrenaline pump of seeing almost 1000 feet below my feet, I could start to take in the spectacular, awe-inspiring views all around us. We even saw a lone mountain goat directly below our feet on the edge of a cliff. He was pretty hard to get a clear photo of but super cute and funny.
Considering the price and what’s included (an informative bus ride to the site, the breathtaking experience itself, and unlimited time on the Skywalk) I would say it is absolutely worth it. Especially if you’re already in the area. I’ll never forget the time we spent on the Skywalk– it was thrilling, visually spectacular, educational, and honestly pretty romantic. It is also a fully accessible form of adventure that folks of all abilities can enjoy. I absolutely recommend this experience.
From the Skywalk, we headed out of the National Parks towards Rocky Mountain House (another post for another time!) but I wanted to share what I thought to be one of the most jaw-dropping views of our entire weekend. Once you’ve crossed over the Sunwapta Pass (the boundary between Jasper and Banff National Parks) into the Banff side, you’ll pass a massive rock wall. At first, it doesn’t look like much compared to all the other mountains in the area but open a closer look, you’ll see a bunch of tiny waterfalls. When I checked our map, I learned that this is called the Weeping Wall, which struck me as so wonderful and wholesome. We stopped for a few minutes to absorb the wonder of this sight and I think you should too. It was really inspiring.
Have you done the Columbia Icefield Skywalk before? What did you think? What other adventures should we check out in the Canadian Rockies? Leave us a comment!