The glacier is a 7-km (4½-mile) tongue of ice flowing from the immense Columbia Icefield almost to the Icefields Parkway. A century ago the ice flowed over the current location of the highway; signposts depict the gradual retreat of the ice since that time. Several other glaciers are visible from here; they all originate from the Columbia Icefield, a giant alpine lake of ice covering 325 square km (125 square miles). Its edge is visible from the highway. You can hike up to the toe of the glacier, but venturing farther without a trained guide is extremely dangerous because of hidden crevasses.
Athabasca Glacier Ice Walks (800/565–7547, www.icewalks.com) conducts three-, five-, and six-hour guided walks costing from C$75 to C$105. Reserve a space at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre or through Jasper Adventure Centre (780/852–5595 or 800/565–7547, www.jasperadventurecentre.com), in Jasper. Brewster Tours' Ice Explorers (columbiaicefield.com) trips in vehicles modified to drive on ice are another way to tour the glacier. You can purchase tickets (C$55) for these trips online or at the Discovery Centre.