|The Ice Cave at the Toe of the Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park|
I don't know that we would have taken the long 3.5 hour drive from Calgary to see the ice cave in a day trip but we were staying at the nearby Hilda Wilderness Hostel for Easter and the Icefield Centre was a short 5 minute drive from where we were staying! Hello glacier hike!!
|In summer you'd drive this road to get closer to the Athabasca Glacier|
|Hiking across Glacier Moraines towards the toe of the Athabasca Glacier|
What and Where is the Columbia Icefield Centre? This is a big tourist hub from where you can take the big snow coach bus tours onto the Athabasca Glacier in summer. It's located roughly half way between Lake Louise and Jasper. More information can be found on the Brewster Travel Canada website.
|Approaching the Athabasca Glacier|
Family-Friendly Glacier Hike
From either the winter or summer parking lot, it's a short hike to the toe of the glacier or to the moraines overlooking it. It's perfectly safe for families because you don't step ON the glacier. You stay safely in front of it on the rock and you don't cross fences that tell you to stay back. If you want to actually go on the glacier itself, you need to take a Glacier Adventure Tour with Brewster Travel Canada (who did not sponsor this story but deserve a shout out for their great tours.)
|This is the start of the hiking trail in summer|
The hiking trail is only 1.8km long to the toe of the glacier (add half a kilometre in winter) and is feasible by most families. For more information, follow this link to the Parks Canada website where you'll find a detailed description of the hike for the "Toe of the Athabasca Glacier."
You can also find a map of the Icefields on the Icefields Parkway Travel Guide.
|Hiking across the glacier Moraines to the Ice Cave|
Finding the Ice Cave
To find the ice cave, hike towards the toe of the glacier and then hike off to your right across the rocks and moraines. You should see it in the distance. In the photos you can see us hiking towards it.
|Getting closer to the cave|
|Found the Ice Cave|
|We found the ice cave - and that's as far as my son got to go|
Is it Safe? No. Not really anyway. I went inside but I would not let my son go inside. And I don't know anybody else who has let their kids go inside this winter either. In theory, it could crash down at any second. So, if you're going under for a photo, do it quick and get out.
|Standing in the Ice Cave|
|View from within the Ice Cave|
From the cave, we meandered our way back down to the parking lot and it felt like Noah was learning basic glacier travel as he descended the snowy moraines kicking steps and sliding on his bum when safe. It was a lot of fun and a great outing.
|Descending our way back to the parking lot|
If you want to visit the ice cave, I recommend going now because I don't think it's always there. I've never seen it before anyway, and have only started hearing about it this winter. Glaciers change every year so who knows what you might find next year.
Further Recommended Reading:
Easter at the BEST Wilderness Hostel in the Canadian Rockies (Hilda Creek near the Columbia Icefield Centre)
Experiencing Awesome in Jasper National Park (Summer adventures on the Icefields Parkway)
Moving on to Big Adventures - and the Kids get to Come Along (Fall adventures at Hilda Creek)
Tots on Ice (Athabasca Glacier Snow Coach Tour)
Spring Adventures on Alberta's Icefields Parkway
|Spring on the Icefields Parkway from the Hilda Creek Hostel|