Banff National Park, Alberta Canada

Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada

Part 3

Columbia Icefield

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The Columbia Icefield covers 130 square miles and is the largest body of ice in the Rocky Mountains. It is located in both Banff and Jasper National Parks. It's highest elevation is 12,284 feet, with an average of 10,000 feet. It's up to 1,200 feet thick. It has an average snowfall of 23 feet each year and drains, through rivers, into the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic Oceans.

The Icefield sits on top of a group of mountains. It has icefalls which drop down on glaciers. The glaciers slowly slide down the mountain creating a valley. It advances every winter and receeds every summer leaving a pile of rocks (moraine) at it's edge. The melt from the glacier usually forms a small lake near it's base. The lake overflows and feeds creeks and rivers.

The Columbia Icefield feeds many glaciers. One of the Glaciers is the Athabasca Glacier. We toured part of the Athabasca Glacier. This glacier is just inside Jasper National Park.

The round trip drive from Lake Louise Campgound to the Icefield was 164 miles. We passed some very good sights. The road is called the Icefield Parkway and connects Banff to Jasper.

Columbia Icefield is on the top of the notch in the picture.
You can see an icefall to the Athabasca Glacier. (icefall looks like a step)
The Athabasca Glacier is winding it's way down to the valley.
To give you a reference for size, see cars next to the lake at the bottom.


I zoomed in on the glacier.
You can see 2 snowcoachs (bus) going to the top of the glacier.


The snowcoach we rode.

The water was clean and cold. We were able to fill our bottles.

It was cold and windy. Unfortunately, the sun is behind us.

Peyto Lake
We passed this lake on the way to the icefield.
We had to hike on a nature trail to get to the observation platform which was about 1,000 feet above the lake. We were very fortunate, we arrived at the observation platform while a professor was there with his class. We learned more about glaciers and glacier fed lakes, and did not have to pay tution!
This lake is supposed to be the greenest lake in the Rocky Mountains.
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