Day 5 of Our Banff Adventure was a long one. We made the drive the way into Jasper National Park to check out the Columbia Ice fields and then spent some time exploring a couple of the other natural landmarks as we made our way back to our campsite in Banff.
Columbia Ice Field Glacier Adventure
The Glacier Adventure is something none of us had done, so we were all excited for the chance to experience something new. My husband and I had been to the Columbia Icefield Centre before, but we had never bothered to ride the Ice Explorers up to the actual Glacier. When we saw the Brewster Epic Pass include the Glacier Adventure and the new Glacier Skywalk, it definitely helped cement the decision to buy the passes.
We got our tickets and had a bit of time to kill before our tour, so we checked out some of the exhibits on the bottom level of the Icefield Centre and watched the movie in the theatre. There was also a nice restaurant and café to dine at on the upper level, but we had packed a lunch so we headed back outside to have a quick picnic and let the dogs out to stretch their legs.
Once it was our time, we took a tour bus partway up the mountain and were switched onto the Ice Explorer vehicle that would take us to the Athabasca Glacier. The kids were both excited to ride the 6 wheel drive vehicle and enjoyed the bumpy ride. My daughter was under 5 so her admission was free, but it required her to ride on an adult’s lap for both the bus and Ice Explorer rides.
My kids are quite used to snow and ice, so walking over the icy glacier wasn’t super thrilling for them – even in the dead of summer. It took a bit of convincing to get my son out of the vehicle to have a look, but once out he was excited to see another set of Red Chairs and accompanying Canadian flag. #SharetheChair
Unfortunately, the time my son and I spent on the glacier was short lived thanks to him accidentally stepping in a large hole while stomping excitedly in the melting streams. He sunk into the icy glacier water up past his knees before I quickly yanked him out, soaking and cold. My husband carried him back onto the warm Ice Explorer and we quickly stripped him down to change into clean, dry shorts. “I told you I should have stayed inside the vehicle mom!” Thank goodness for fast drying rain boots and extra clothing!
Jasper’s latest tourist attraction has been on my bucket list since it opened. It was under construction when we passed through Jasper several years ago, and after seeing this truly impressive feat of engineering it is clear why construction took several years.
The large glass walkway suspended over the mountain side is something you truly have to see to believe and fully appreciate. The view is breathtaking and no matter how good you are with heights, walking on glass that high up is still enough to make your heart race a little.
The only way to access the Skywalk is via a shuttle bus from the Icefield Centre. You can purchase the Glacier Adventure and Glacier Skywalk together as a package which allows you to take the bus directly and easily from one attraction over to the other and then catch the bus back to the Icefield Centre and main parking lot.
After the Skywalk, we headed back into Banff National Park, stopping along the way to check out Mistaya Canyon.
It was a bit of a hike down to the Canyon, but the kids seemed to catch a second wind and were happy to get out and explore some more. The poor dogs had spent most of the day in the car during our Glacier Adventures, so they were beyond excited to see the leashes finally come back out.
Mistaya Canyon is an attraction my husband and I had previously visited, but it was well worth another stop. It was a nice short walk down for the dogs and kids, and there was a lot to see and appreciate at the bottom.
The rocks are a bit difficult to climb on the river’s edge, and the river is very fast flowing, so we had to be quite cautious with the kids and dogs. Luckily we did find one place the dogs could go in safely for a drink before we made the trek back up to the vehicle.
We made it to our final stop of the day around 6:30pm. Peyto Lake is a very popular Banff attraction so we were a bit surprised the parking lot was basically already deserted by that point in the day.
It is a bit of a hike up from the lower main parking lot, so we decided to cheat and drove up to the tour bus and handicap parking lot. There were no buses to be seen, and the lake was just down a short walkway from that lot.
It was hard not to get a little nostalgic at these last two stops. The last time we had been to Mistaya Canyon and Peyto Lake was over 8 years ago with our sweet bulldog Bullini. We were still newlyweds at the time, and life was definitely a lot simpler with just one dog in tow. Sightseeing has become a lot more chaotic as we have added to our family, but it is still a lot of fun to bring the kids and the two other dogs along to experience these great sights.
Looking at the side by side comparison, you can easily see how our other bulldog Rumbull quickly warmed his way into our lives and our hearts.
Check back soon for Day 6 of our trip touring the Bow Valley Parkway and Lake Moraine.