Each Icewalk tour is unique.
With three different icy adventures to choose from, a Discover Banff Tours’ Icewalk can happen day or night, snow or shine. And our Icewalks are offered in two different locations and at two separate times of day with a guarantee of frozen waterfalls, hot chocolate, and maple cookies on all.
But which ones to choose, and what does an Icewalk even mean? Well, let us review 5 things our guides want you to know about a Discover Banff Tours’ Icewalk.
1. 3 Icewalks to choose – Johnston Canyon, Grotto Canyon and Evening Icewalk
Johnston Canyon is made up of a series of catwalks attached to the canyon walls offering a perspective like no other. Grotto Canyon is literally walking on the ice. The creek freezes in layers among layers that become meters thick in a reaction of warm groundwater escaping the earth and freezing among contact with our brisk Rocky Mountain Winters – it’s pretty cool!
Both canyons are a journey through a geological time capsule that your Discover Banff Tours guide will explain. These mountains are millions of years in the making – so there’s a bit of history to explore. Grotto Canyon tells the story of human history that is rarely found in the Rockies, through pictographs from travelling Indigenous people believed to have come from as far away as the Arizona area.
Finally the truly unique Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk. Winter’s night-time stillness blankets the forest and canyon surrounding you, the Milky Way and an unspoiled starry sky above – and then there’s flowing water below, beneath the ice, bubbling and gurgling. More is noticed when less light is present.
2. Hot chocolate is great but hydration is key
While we warm you up with hot chocolate, water is essential to any hike and staying hydrated is key. You’ll be surprised how easy you work up a sweat, even in the cold – so make sure to pack some water for your adventure as well.
3. Walking on ice requires the right gear
Safety is our number one concern, and in winter, this is especially important in the Rockies. No Icewalk is done without ice cleats, and those are always provided to our guests. Trail conditions throughout the Winter and Spring vary dramatically from heavy packed snow to glassy ice. The ice cleats and hiking poles that we provide to all guests will keep you stable on the undulating trail. While it’s possible to do these adventures on your own, our Guides don’t want you to miss out on where to see fossils and pictographs, the best places to spot wildlife, and the other great stories we share.
4. Our guides go all the way in
For our daytime tours, we don’t stop halfway or part of the way – we go all the way. At Grotto Canyon and Johnston Canyon’s upper falls, witness the daring ice climbers as they grip and grasp to the ice in an adventure sport for the hardy. At the Johnston Canyon lower falls, make your way through a tunnel that comes out face-to-face with the spray or ice crystals of the gushing falls.
5. Don’t forget to look up
Out here, we don’t take our dark skies for granted – unpolluted skies are a rare sight to see these days, and with little to no artificial light around, light pollution is not something to worry about here. Don’t forget to look up – and often. But if you get lost in your headlamp’s path of discovery on the Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk, your guide will remind you at key locations and see the Milky Way, countless stars, and if you’re lucky – shooting stars between the canyon canopy around.