The Athabasca Glacier is one of the six principal 'toes' of the Columbia Icefield, located in the Canadian Rockies. The glacier currently recedes at a rate of 2-3 metres per year and has receded more than 1.5 km in the past 125 years and lost over half of its volume. The glacier moves down from the icefield at a rate of several centimetres per day. Due to its close proximity to the Icefields Parkway, between the Alberta towns of Banff and Jasper, and rather easy accessibility, it is the most visited glacier in North America. The leading edge of the glacier is within easy walking distance; however, travel onto the glacier is not recommended unless properly equipped. Hidden crevasses have led to the deaths of unprepared tourists.
The glacier is approximately 6 km (3.75 miles) long, covers an area of 6 km² (2.5 mi²), and is measured to be between 90 metres (270 ft) and 300 metres (1000 ft) thick.