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!
The best parts of the tour for most people include the following:
A stunted forest
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.
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.
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.
- 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.