Glacier View Lodge, originally built more than 20 years ago, underwent a complete transformation prior to reopening in 2019 as a premium alpine retreat. The lodge is now part of Pursuit’s Banff and Jasper Collection whose mission is to connect guests to iconic places through unforgettable, inspiring experiences.
The hotel, located at the juncture of Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, is a great option for stopping for the night if you’re taking your time enjoying one of the best scenic drives in Canada as it is the only available Icefields Parkway lodging.
Spending a night (or two) at the only Icefields Parkway hotel overlooking a 10,000 year-old glacier is a memorable experience to include in a Canadian Rockies road trip. I have had the pleasure of staying at some beautiful hotels around the world but Glacier View Lodge has to be one of my all time favourite hotel experiences. Glacier View Lodge is a bucket list Canadian hotel – unique, magical and a fun, worthwhile experience!
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Location of Glacier View Lodge
Glacier View Lodge is located on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93 N), at the toe of the Athabasca Glacier, approximately 185 kilometres (115 miles) from Banff and 104 kilometres (65 miles) from Jasper.
The 32 room lodge occupies the 3rd floor of the Glacier Discovery Centre building directly across the highway from the Athabasca Glacier.
When you arrive there is a separate parking lot (the upper lot on the Banff side of the building) for lodge guests who are provided with a code to enter the lot (parking is complimentary for hotel guests). The public parking lot is on the other side of the building (the lower lot).
Moraine Lounge – Glacier View Lodge
When you step off the elevator onto the 3rd floor you will find yourself in Moraine Lounge, the hotel’s intimate lobby and guest lounge.
The lounge is the focal point of the lodge with its cozy seating area and stunning views of the Athabasca Glacier and is the perfect spot for reading or enjoying a beverage – if you can take your eyes off of the scene outside the floor to ceiling window.
A daily reception is held in the lounge to welcome guests to the lodge with a cocktail, charcuterie and an opportunity to mingle.
Accommodations at Glacier View Lodge
The rooms at Glacier View Lodge are spacious and comfortable with plush beds and a modern Scandinavian feel – think hygge. Rooms have a seating area and amenities include flat screen television, a Nespresso machine, complimentary high speed WiFi and Rocky Mountain Soap Company toiletries.
The three of us stayed in a Glacier View – Two Queens room which was cozy and comfortable. I loved the design of the room but the breathtaking view from the large window is a scene stealer. Honestly the most beautiful view that I have ever had from a room – and I can’t imagine ever topping it!
Rooms with a glacier view are more expensive than mountain view but worth the extra cost. Sitting on the bed looking out the window at the Athabasca Glacier and snow-topped mountains as the sun went down was a magical experience that I will never forget!
Guests can book either room only or the Columbia Icefield Guided Experience which includes accommodation as well as the Athabasca Glacier tour and Columbia Icefield Skywalk as exclusive guided tours – one tour takes place in the evening and one the following morning.
Dining at Glacier View Lodge
There are two restaurants on the 2nd floor of the building as well as a busy Starbucks on the main level which is generally open 10 am – 6 pm. In-room dining is not available at the lodge and there are no other nearby options for dining.
Altitude is a sit-down restaurant wrapped with breathtaking glacier views known for its creative cocktails and Canadian inspired and locally-sourced menu developed by Executive Chef Michael O’Neill. The restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner with a la carte menu and there’s a lunch buffet.
Chalet is a casual self-serve cafeteria style restaurant featuring freshly prepared food such as soups, burgers, pizza and chicken fingers, lasagna, curry, poutine with grab-and-go service. The restaurant is only open for lunch or early dinner 11 am – 6 pm.
There is also a terrace on the second level where you can dine outdoors after purchasing food from Chalet or Starbucks. We sat outside for a quick bite to eat before our drive to Jasper. It was lovely despite how cold it appears – the snow had fallen two days earlier and the weather was warming so sitting outdoors was quite pleasant!
Things To Do at Glacier View Lodge
On the ground level of the Glacier Discovery Centre visitors will find public bathrooms, Starbucks and a gift/souvenir shop as well as the ticket booth to pick up or purchase tickets for the Columbia Icefield Athabasca Glacier tour and the Columbia Icefield Glacier Skywalk. Advance reservations are recommended to avoid the disappointment of sold-out glacier tours.
In addition to the organized paid activities there are also hiking trails of various lengths and levels of difficulty nearby. The hotel can provide additional information.
All activities are weather dependent. As we discovered on our mid-June visit – snowstorms can happen at any time of the year in the mountains!
Columbia Icefield Athabasca Glacier Tour
The Columbia Icefield Athabasca Glacier tour is a must-do experience for visitors to the Canadian Rockies. This unforgettable experience takes you onto the Athabasca Glacier – a 10,000 year-old sheet of ice – where you can walk on, feel and drink from the glacier!
A bus transports visitors from the Glacier Discovery Centre to a depot where they board the Ice Explorer all-terrain vehicle that travels onto the glacier. The driver/guide will provide commentary with information about the glacier and the experience during the ride down to the glacier. If you’re lucky then you might spot mountain goats/sheep (I’m not sure which!) – we saw a few including some babies!
The drive down the steep moraine to the glacier is quite bumpy and you must be wearing a seatbelt. The Ice Explorer drives through water before heading onto the glacier in order to clean its wheels and not track dirt and debris onto the glacier. You will have approximately 20 minutes on the glacier before the return trip which is plenty of time to take lots of photos and relish the fact that you are standing on a glacier!
Be aware that it will be colder on the glacier (generally around -10 Celsius) and it is recommended that you bring mittens as well as a hat and dress in warm layers with a wind proof/water proof outer layer. I was expecting it to feel much colder on our mid-June visit than it actually did but if you’re not accustomed to cold weather then you will want to bundle up. I was also worried about it being slippery but we were fine in regular running shoes.
Columbia Icefield Skywalk
The Columbia Icefield Skywalk (also known as the Glacier Skywalk) is a glass platform suspended from the cliffs over the Sunwapta Valley 280 metres (918 feet) below and a popular stop on the Icefields Parkway.
The views of the valley, the mountains and the glacier are breathtaking. The area is also frequented by mountain goats and other wildlife to so keep a look-out for them. I’m afraid of heights but managed to walk around the platform – it freaked me out a bit and we didn’t stay long but I’m glad I did it!
Glacier Skywalk admission is included with your ticket for the glacier tour and the return bus will stop at the Skywalk so you can disembark and experience it directly after your tour if you choose. It isn’t possible to drive to or park at the Skywalk – if you aren’t stopping after the glacier tour there are buses that depart from the Glacier Discovery Centre transporting visitors to the Skywalk.
Parks Canada Exhibition on Glaciers
There is an interesting (and not at all crowded) Parks Canada exhibition with interpretive displays about glaciers on the lower level of the building that is worth a visit. We found it quite informative.
- Glacier View Lodge is open seasonally early May – mid-October (exact dates may vary year to year and are dependent on weather).
- Glacier View Lodge is a smoke-free property.
- Check-in time – 4 pm; Check-out time – 11 am.
- There is a $20 per night amenity fee payable at check-in which includes high speed WiFi and complimentary parking.
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