Skip to main content

Amazing views, sweaty palms on Canada's new Glacier Skywalk

By Karla Cripps, CNN
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Fri May 2, 2014
Canada's stunning new Glacier Skywalk pops 35 meters out the side of a cliff in Alberta's Jasper National Park. The glass-floored observation walkway hangs 280 meters above Sunwapta Canyon. Canada's stunning new Glacier Skywalk pops 35 meters out the side of a cliff in Alberta's Jasper National Park. The glass-floored observation walkway hangs 280 meters above Sunwapta Canyon.
HIDE CAPTION
Glacier Skywalk
Educational experiences
Fair-weather attraction
Skywalk criticism
<<
<
1
2
3
4
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Canada's new Glacier Skywalk hangs 280 meters above Sunwapta Canyon in Jasper National Park
  • Skywalk reached by cliff-edge walkway filled with multi-sensory interactive experiences
  • Alberta Wilderness Association says such developments don't belong in national parks

(CNN) -- The global list of incredible viewing platforms designed to elevate your heart rate continues to grow, with Canada's Glacier Skywalk the latest gravity-defying walkway to welcome tourists.

Jutting 35 meters out the side of a cliff on Jasper National Park's Icefields Parkway, the glass-floored observation walkway hangs 280 meters above Sunwapta Canyon.

It opened to tourists May 1 after five years of design, two years of seasonal construction and a reported cost of CAD$21 million ($19 million).

In addition to the incredible views, owner Brewster Travel Canada says the attraction has an educational side.

A 400-meter-long Discovery Trail cliff-edge walkway leading up to the glass platform includes multi-sensory interactive experiences centered around the glaciology, biology and ecology of Canada's Columbia Icefield region.

MORE: How to pretend you're Canadian when you travel

Visitors must take a five-minute bus transfer from the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre to access the Skywalk, which is an hour from the town of Jasper in the Canadian Rockies.

The Glacier Skywalk is open daily, May through October.

Price of tickets is CAD$24.95 for adults and CAD$12.50 for children.

Visitors to Dachstein's Stairway to Nothingness must first cross Austria's highest bridge, which is 328 feet (100 meters) long and straddles a drop of 1,300 feet (396 meters). Then they face 14 steps that descend from the cliff face and which are surrounded by glass walls. Visitors to Dachstein's Stairway to Nothingness must first cross Austria's highest bridge, which is 328 feet (100 meters) long and straddles a drop of 1,300 feet (396 meters). Then they face 14 steps that descend from the cliff face and which are surrounded by glass walls.
Dachstein Stairway to Nothingness (Austria)
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
>
>>
 13 scary-but-awesome viewing platforms 13 scary-but-awesome viewing platforms

To see how it stacks up against other global viewpoints, check out the gallery on the left.

Environmentalists oppose commercial development

Not everyone is thrilled with the Glacier Skywalk.

Canada's CBC website quoted Sean Nicholson of the Alberta Wilderness Association as saying this type of development doesn't belong in national parks.

"They represent almost a taking over of the management of the park in a sense by commercial interests, which we don't think is a good thing for the wildlife that live there and the ecosystem in general," Nicholson said.

MORE: 10 things Canada does better than anywhere else

Prior to the build, Brewster Travel Canada says it commissioned a 169-page environmental assessment, including a study on wildlife and vegetation.

"The assessment was reviewed by Parks Canada officials and was deemed acceptable within Parks Canada's policy framework governing the management and protection of our national parks," said the company.

The motivation behind approving the Skywalk was to make the area more attractive to tourists, said Parks Canada in a statement.

"Parks Canada needs to become more relevant to more Canadians by providing services and activities that respond to a broader range of visitor needs and expectations," it said.

That sentiment is perhaps behind the recent news that the government body is planning to bring WiFi hotspots to at least 50 of its parks this year, claiming visitors want to be able to stay connected even in the great outdoors.

Responding to widespread negative reaction to the plan, a Parks Canada official told CTV news that the wireless zones would be restricted to visitor centers and campgrounds -- "not in the wilderness, and not in the back country."

MORE: 13 scary-but-awesome viewing platforms

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:07 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Where to pay homage to the cutest local celebrities you'll ever stalk.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
For air travelers who like to gripe about being cramped in economy, here comes another warning that they've never had it so good.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Cream cakes from the Ruszwurm bakery in Budapest, Hungary
Proving they're what's really important, the world's best pastry shops have survived survived sieges, revolutions and World War II.
updated 11:50 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Lois Pryce ignored naysayers and traveled 3,000 miles via motorcycle to discover the real Iran.
updated 11:20 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Built at a cost of $442.2 million, Universal Studios Japan hopes its new Potter attraction will bring in $55 billion over 10 years.
updated 10:40 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
A scene in Marrakech
The gateway to Morocco's Atlas Mountains is becoming a photographer's paradise -- but capturing it on camera isn't easy.
updated 5:36 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Cathay Pacific was pronounced the world's best airliner of the year at the industry's leading awards ceremony in Farnborough on Tuesday.
updated 4:44 PM EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
Britain has stolen a march in the space race with plans for the world's first spaceport outside the U.S.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
In the hunt for the world's best amusement park, the people have spoken -- and it seems the people like mixing with creatures who eat a lot of fish.
updated 2:11 AM EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
An Hellenic Seaplanes aircraft
Seaplane network set to open up far-flung destinations to affordable jet-setting tours.
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon July 14, 2014
A man who took a dangerous selfie during the running of the bulls in Pamplona, with the half-ton beasts right behind him, is still on the run -- but this time from the police.
updated 10:07 PM EDT, Mon July 14, 2014
Its cramped rooms and retro lobby are dated, but its charm and devotion to customers are worth preserving.
updated 1:53 AM EDT, Mon July 14, 2014
A young girl sits on a bench decorated with an image of Paddington Bear.
As part of a scheme to encourage reading, 50 benches designed in the style of popular novels or kids' stories have been scattered around London.
updated 9:01 PM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
To all the locals who have been hoarding the following beaches, please forgive us.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Jason Hullinger, a computer security architect in Los Angeles, went to Joshua Tree National Park in December to catch the Geminid meteor shower.
CNN iReporters from across the globe share their incredible images of the skies above us.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT