Renewing Jasper National Park's Visitor Experience
Part IV: Icefields Centre
Built in 1995, the Icefields Centre is a hub of the Icefields Parkway. Whether travelling from Jasper to Banff, camping along the parkway, enjoying one of the many hiking opportunities or simply viewing snow capped peaks and majestic glaciers, about 1,600,000 travel the parkway each year. Almost 700,000 of these travelers stop to visit the Icefields Centre and 75,000 visit the Toe of the Glacier, the highest use trail on the parkway.
Over time, the Icefields Centre has begun to show signs of wear. Some exhibits were damaged and outdated, signage has faded and deteriorated, and the needs of the Centre’s visitors have also changed as demographics shift. To address these issues, Parks Canada began a project to renew the Icefields Centre. The multi-year plan for redevelopment will update the Centre, providing visitors with opportunities for safe, meaningful experiences to connect with the Icefields area. Improved road and parking signs will help visitors feel a welcoming sense of arrival, and once inside visitors will be able to access renewed exhibits and up-to-date information.
The project started in 2007 with a renewal plan. Over the past few years Parks Canada has put this plan into action, beginning with upgrades to the exterior and surrounding area, including the Toe of the Glacier area. To date, investments equal nearly 1.5 million dollars; some of the completed improvements include:
Renewed information kiosk © Parks Canada
- New welcome and orientation signs
- Parking lot enhancements that improve accessible parking
- New directional highway signs
- Upgrades and repairs to entry road
- Renewed information kiosks
- Life-size wildlife sculptures with new interpretation media, along the pedestrian walkway
- Toe of the Glacier parking redesign, orientation signage, new privy and a new sheltered kiosk with updated interpretation
- New paved interpretive pedestrian walk providing easier and safer access from the parking area to the centre
- Development plan for replacement of the Glacier Gallery, in which the Through Ice and Time film will be permanently installed
Brewster has also made significant recent investments into the Icefields Centre, re-opening this season with a completely renovated main floor.
If you haven’t been down to the Icefields for awhile, maybe it’s time to take a day trip to hike Wilcox Pass, or take the family camping along the parkway. Visit the Toe of the Glacier trail or stroll with the kids along the Alpine Wildlife walk. Come and check out what’s new, and reconnect to this special place!