Athabasca Glacier

The Athabasca Glacier is Canada's natural wonder that's shrinking at an alarming rate

It'll probably come as no surprise that Canada is no stranger to glaciers.

Outside of Antarctica and Greenland, Canada has more glacier coverage in the form of mountain glaciers, icefields and ice caps than any other nation. 

Part of the massive Columbia Icefield that straddles the divide of Banff and Jasper National Parks, is the Athabasca Glacier, is the most accessible and visited glacier in North America.

The Athabasca Glacier is fed by the Columbia Icefield, the largest non-polar ice fields in the world, and is easily visible from the Icefield Parkway.

This 10,000 year-old natural wonder is melting at an alarming rate however, due to climate change. It has already been receding about 16 feet a year and could completely disappear within a generation. 

Though the glacier has greatly receded over the past 125 years, it still covers an area of about six square kilometres and at its thickest, measures 980 feet.

There are opportunities for even the most amateur explorers to see this shrinking icy wonder, with guided tours and hikes. The tour includes a giant Ice Explorer drive up to the glacier edge, and the chance to step right on and even drink from the ancient glacier. 

Others choose the slightly more adventurous option of taking a guided hike across the glacier instead of riding the snow coach. 

Visitors are discouraged from going onto the glacier without proper climbing equipment or a guide, as the many cracks and hidden crevasses on its surface make it a dangerous feat to take on your own.

Whichever route you choose, don't miss out on this adventure of a lifetime and make sure you visit this incredible natural wonder before it's too late. 

The Icefield Interpretive Centre for lodging and ticket sales for sightseeing on the glacier is closed during the winter and runs from April to October. 

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