One of the most truly spectacular glaciers is easily accessible and resides between Banff and Jasper, in Alberta, Canada, and is known as the Athabasca Glacier. The Athabasca Glacier is considered to be one of the 'toes' of the Columbia Iceflow, and is the most accessible, and well-visited, glacier in North America. It is approximately 3 ¾ miles long, covering an area of about 2 ½ miles, and is considered to be from 270 to 1000 feet thick. There are several manners available to travel across the Athabasca Glacier:
1. Walking tours – hiking across the Athabasca Glacier, this is best done with a licensed guide. This can be extremely dangerous because of the deep crevasses that are disguised by fresh snow, and the licensed guides are extremely familiar with the area and know where to avoid. This can be a remarkable tour and certainly one to remember for a lifetime 2. Sno Coach or Terra Bus - a bus tour over the glacier with especially equipped tires and narrated by a licensed guide. These buses only travel across the lower, horizontal portion of the glacier because they are not built to travel across the rougher topography further up the glacier. Besides hiking across the Athabasca Glacier or traveling on the Sno Coach, there is abundant wildlife to see; visitors can observe caribou, moose, elk, bears, goats, and sheep along the Icefields Parkway. For the photographer, these are some of the most photogenic sites, both novices and professionals. In the winter there are nearby cross-country skiing trails and snowmobiling; with summertime, visitors enjoy picnicking and sightseeing.