Dec-Apr
Season
8:30am
Departure Time
4 Hours
Duration
8+
Age
Active
Activity

Explore the icy beauty of Grotto Canyon and see ancient native pictographs using special hiking crampons to grip the smooth frozen creek bed.

Here at Grotto Canyon, our Icewalk hikes the frozen creek bed through a narrow canyon, past unusual rock formations and spectacular icefalls. This is a unique experience to walk directly on the ice, and walking on the creek bed floor gives you a unique view of the canyon.

You might see ice climbers scaling the frozen waterfalls, but for many the highlight is the ancient native pictographs that are easily missed by the general public. Your guide will point out the stunted pine forest and hidden ancient native pictographs, which were likely created by Hopi visitors from the Arizona region. The symbols have many possible meanings and origins and you will learn more about First Nation history in the Bow Valley.

All icewalks include hot chocolate to warm you up and our famous maple cookies!

Included
  • Maple cookie snack
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hotel pick up and drop off
  • Small group size (up to 12 guests per guide)
  • Use of hiking poles
  • Professional certified guide
  • Ice cleats
Walking Distance
  • 4.2km (2.6 miles)
Elevation Gain
  • 100m (328 feet)
Transport Options
  • Hotel pick up and drop off (Banff)
  • Hotel pick up and drop off (Canmore)
DO A TOUR PRIVATELY?
  • If one of our group itinerary tours appeals to you, it can also be arranged for you on a private basis. LEARN MORE.

Guide Quote

Emma's Pick

"Grotto’s a local secret with few crowds and cool human history." - Emma , Hiking Guide, Discover Banff Tours

The best parts of the tour for most people include the following:

1

A stunted forest

Why are the trees so small and oddly shaped?
2

Grotto Creek

You will walk on the frozen creek bed in Grotto Canyon winding through the narrow gorge.
3

Rockies geology

Witness unusual rock formations and ancient ocean floors around you, the result of mountain building processes.
4

Pictographs

The ancient Native rock art provides 1,500 year old clues linking native culture in Canada to distant areas further south.
5

Icefalls

Get close to icefalls seeping from the cliff face, and if you’re lucky watch ice climbers performing their craft.
Included
  • Maple cookie snack
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hotel pick up and drop off
  • Small group size (up to 12 guests per guide)
  • Use of hiking poles
  • Professional certified guide
  • Ice cleats
Walking Distance
  • 4.2km (2.6 miles)
Elevation Gain
  • 100m (328 feet)
Transport Options
  • Hotel pick up and drop off (Banff)
  • Hotel pick up and drop off (Canmore)
DO A TOUR PRIVATELY?
  • If one of our group itinerary tours appeals to you, it can also be arranged for you on a private basis. LEARN MORE.

Guide Quote

Emma's Pick

"Grotto’s a local secret with few crowds and cool human history." - Emma , Hiking Guide, Discover Banff Tours

The tour commences at 8:30am and runs for 4 hours, which includes  2 – 2.5 hours for the icewalk. The tour returns to Canmore around 12pm and to Banff at 12:30pm.
The tour includes transport from Banff and Canmore, and a 2 – 2.5 hour walk on a frozen creek through Grotto Canyon past unusual rock formations, ancient Native rock art, and icefalls.

We provide ice cleats that will be attached to your boots that will prevent you from slipping on the ice. We also have hiking poles for extra stability if you would like to use them.

We pick up from most hotels in Banff, and you can select your preferred pick-up location during the booking process. Guests in Canmore will be picked up at 8:45am from the Coast Canmore Hotel & Conference Centre. For drop offs in Banff, our guide will ask you on the way back where you would like to be dropped off either in town or at your hotel.
Yes! This is a unique opportunity to walk directly on a frozen creek bed. In the summer Grotto Creek flows through the canyon and then freezes solid in the winter. Being able to walk on the creek bed at the bottom of Grotto Canyon gives you a unique view of the canyon.
The Icewalk is 4.2km (2.6 miles) and has an elevation of 100 metres (328 feet), with a total walking time of 2 – 2.5 hours. This icewalk is considered easy, with a few small inclines. We provide ice cleats that will be attached to your boots that will prevent you from slipping on the ice, and we have hiking poles for extra stability if you would like to use them as well.
The Grotto Canyon Icewalk allows you to walk directly on a frozen creek bed at the bottom of Grotto Canyon past unusual rock formations, ancient Native rock art, and icefalls. The Icewalk is 4.2km (2.6 miles) and has an elevation of 100 metres (328 feet), with a total walking time of 2 – 2.5 hours. This icewalk is generally considered easy, with a few small inclines.

Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular attractions in Banff National Park, and has a network of steel catwalks built into the canyon walls that allows you to walk right along the frozen waterfalls (rather than directly on the ice). There are two Johnston Canyon Icewalk options, the daytime icewalk is a 4 hour tour that includes both the lower and upper falls with 2 – 2.5 hours of walking and is a little more strenuous due to the increased distance (5.4km) and elevation gain of 135 metres (443 feet). The evening icewalk is a 2.5 hour tour that visits the lower falls with 1.5 – 2 hours of walking 2.2 km with an elevation gain of 65 metres (213 feet) and includes a souvenir headlamp to light your way under the stars. On both Johnston Canyon Icewalks the walk is mainly up above the creek bed on a series of trails and catwalks.

Please be prepared for the mountain weather, it changes quickly and our winter tours run in anything from -27C (-17F) to +10C (+50F). Wind chill can change the temperature dramatically and you will be outside for the majority of your tour.

To ensure that you enjoy the tour, please wear/bring:

  • Thermals/base layers/long johns.
  • Snow pants are recommended for this tour and are mandatory if it is below -16C (3F). Otherwise on warmer days, jeans/regular pants over long johns are okay. Snow pants can be rented from stores in Banff such as Snowtips-Bactrax.
  • A warm sweater.
  • A warm jacket. Ski jackets can be rented from stores in Banff such as Snowtips-Bactrax.
  • A hat and mitts.
  • A neck warmer or scarf.
  • Sturdy warm shoes, ideally winter boots or hiking boots. They do not have to be waterproof, but they must be warm. No heels, ugg boots, flip flops or sandals. If you do not have warm shoes, please contact our Reservations Team and we will check our stock levels or recommend a rental store such as Snowtips-Bactrax.
  • A water bottle.

Please note that safety is our first priority. If the guide thinks your attire or footwear isn’t appropriate and compromises your safety on the tour, you may not be able to participate.

It does get icy during the winter season which is why we provide ice cleats during the tour to give you extra grip while you are doing your ice walk on the frozen creek. We cancel our tour at around -30 degrees Celsius or -22 Fahrenheit, and would offer to reschedule or refund your tour if this occured,
There is a 48 hour cancellation policy, which allows you to change/cancel or refund your booking up to 48 hours outside your booked tour (up to 7 days for group bookings).
Tips are not expected, but are certainly appreciated. If you think your guide did a wonderful job and would like to indicate that with a tip, it will be graciously accepted.

Included
  • Maple cookie snack
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hotel pick up and drop off
  • Small group size (up to 12 guests per guide)
  • Use of hiking poles
  • Professional certified guide
  • Ice cleats
Walking Distance
  • 4.2km (2.6 miles)
Elevation Gain
  • 100m (328 feet)
Transport Options
  • Hotel pick up and drop off (Banff)
  • Hotel pick up and drop off (Canmore)
DO A TOUR PRIVATELY?
  • If one of our group itinerary tours appeals to you, it can also be arranged for you on a private basis. LEARN MORE.

Guide Quote

Emma's Pick

"Grotto’s a local secret with few crowds and cool human history." - Emma , Hiking Guide, Discover Banff Tours

  • The minimum age for this tour is 8 years.
  • All children aged 15 years and under must be accompanied by someone 18 years and older.
  • All adults must sign a waiver prior to the tour. A waiver must also be completed by the parent or guardian of any child under the age of 18.
  • Please note that this tour requires a minimum of 4 participants, please call the day prior to confirm the tour.
Included
  • Maple cookie snack
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hotel pick up and drop off
  • Small group size (up to 12 guests per guide)
  • Use of hiking poles
  • Professional certified guide
  • Ice cleats
Walking Distance
  • 4.2km (2.6 miles)
Elevation Gain
  • 100m (328 feet)
Transport Options
  • Hotel pick up and drop off (Banff)
  • Hotel pick up and drop off (Canmore)
DO A TOUR PRIVATELY?
  • If one of our group itinerary tours appeals to you, it can also be arranged for you on a private basis. LEARN MORE.

Guide Quote

Emma's Pick

"Grotto’s a local secret with few crowds and cool human history." - Emma , Hiking Guide, Discover Banff Tours

Walk on ice on the Grotto Canyon Icewalk Tour with Discover Banff Tours in the Canadian Rockies
See ancient pictographs on the Grotto Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours in the Canadian Rockies
Enjoy hot chocolate and maple cookies on winter tours with Discover Banff Tours in the Canadian Rockies
Wear comfortable ice cleats over your winter boots on the Grotto Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours in the Canadian Rockies