Travels and Tourism

Jasper National Park | Jasper National Park is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate.

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Located just up the road from Banff National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Jasper National Park is dare I say slightly less visited than Banff but it is just as spectacular.

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Jasper National Park is teeming with an abundance of wildlife including, grizzly bears and big horn sheep. From turquoise lakes to snowcapped peaks, it has everything you could want to see in a national park. Make your way out to one of the most picturesque lakes in Canada, Maligne Lake or hike in Maligne Canyon. In the winter, you can see its frozen waterfalls and ice caves and then take a scenic drive to relax in the Miette hot Springs.

Jasper town is located within Jasper National Park and makes for a great base to enjoy its restaurants, shops, and galleries at night after you’ve enjoyed its beauty.

  • Location: Alberta – Jasper National Park is located 4 hours west of Edmonton.
  • Size: 11,000 square kilometres

Where is Jasper National Park?

The town of Jasper is located inside Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. It is halfway between Edmonton, Alberta, and Calgary Alberta. The closest international airport to Jasper is Edmonton but you can also easily fly into Calgary. The best way to get to Jasper from one of the cities is to rent a car, but there are buses and tour operators that can take you as well. We highly suggest renting a car as you will definitely want wheels as this drive is beautiful and you’ll want to stop at all the scenic lookouts.

Jasper National Park is surprisingly accessible from quite a few places within Alberta. Jasper town is located just 4 hours (365 km / 226 miles) from Edmonton, 2 1/2 hours (288 km / 330 miles) from Banff, and 404 kilometers (251 miles) northwest of Calgary.

Best Things to do in Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park is often overshadowed by Banff National Park, but when visiting Alberta, Canada this incredible Rocky Mountain destination should be at the top of your list. There are so many things to do in Jasper you’ll understand why it is one of Canada’s most beautiful national parks. Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, (A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site) Jasper National Park spans more than 11,000 square kilometers of pristine wilderness. This protected area is home to an incredible array of wildlife, from grizzly bears and elk to bald eagles and bighorn sheep.

There are so many places to visit in Jasper, you will want to spend at least 3 days in the area. If you have a week, it’s even better! We are going to highlight some of the best things to do in Jasper National Park, downtown Jasper, and along the Icefields Parkway.

One will need to purchase a Parks Pass from Parks Canada here. It is $10 per person per day.

If you are going to stay longer, or visit Banff we suggest purchasing a Parks Canada Discovery Pass that costs $139 for a family or $69 per person. This gives unlimited access to Canada’s national parks from coast to coast to coast for 12 months

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon is our favorite place to see in Jasper. It’s located just 15 minutes from downtown Jasper along the 46 km (miles) Maligne Lake Drive. This stop is one of the most popular places to visit in Jasper and for good reason. It is the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park.

The Maligne River winds through a 50-meter (154 feet) high gorge creating breathtaking scenery. A walking trail follows the gorge for 3.3 km (2.1 miles) offering gorgeous views as you snake along a path hugging the canyon walls.

If you aren’t driving, you can book this tour that will pick you up from your hotel. A Malign Canyon a guided hiking tour is a great way to explore the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park. This small group tour starts at Bridge 1 and finishes at Bridge 5. What’s awesome is that a shuttle will take you back so you don’t need to hike back up. It includes hotel pick up so you don’t even need a car. Details here.

It can get very busy, so go early in the morning to beat the crowds. There are five bridges that cross the canyon showing waterfalls, rapids, and spectacular views.

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk

Jasper National Park is a year-round playground and you can visit the canyon in the winter to enjoy the frozen waterfalls on the Maligne Canyon ice walk. Just like the Johnston Canyon Icewalk in Banff, the Maligne Canyon ice walk takes you to the bottom of the deepest canyon in Jasper. On your tour, you’ll explore ice caves, frozen waterfalls and impressive ice formations. It is about a three-hour tour, so make sure to dress for the cold weather.

Canyoning

Canyoning, also known as canyoneering, is an exhilarating outdoor adventure activity that involves descending into and navigating narrow, steep-walled canyons or gorges, often with the aid of ropes, harnesses, and other specialized equipment.

The park offers a variety of canyoning opportunities for all skill levels, ranging from gentle introductory routes to more advanced, technical descents. Canyoning adventures in Jasper may involve rappelling down waterfalls, jumping into crystal-clear pools, sliding down natural water slides, and swimming through narrow rock channels.

Canyoning in Jasper National Park is an adventure of a lifetime, offering a unique opportunity to explore and experience the park’s rugged natural beauty up close and personal.

Maligne Lake

After a stop at Maligne Canyon, hop in your car and drive another 35 minutes farther along the 46k km Maligne Lake Drive. It takes you to the end of the road at Maligne Lake which must not be missed when visiting Jasper. Maligne Lake is the longest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies. The lake stretches for over 22 kilometers and is surrounded by towering mountains, glacier-fed streams, and dense forests.

Spend the day here and take a boat cruise out to Spirit Island for one of the best photo opportunities in Alberta. Get here early to stay ahead of the crowds and save the scenic stops for the way back to Jasper Town.

Things to do at Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake Boat Cruise – One of the best ways to see Maligne Lake is to take a Maligne Lake Cruise. The Maligne Lake Cruise typically lasts around 90 minutes and takes visitors to some of the lake’s most picturesque spots, including Spirit Island, which is one of the park’s most iconic landmarks. Along the way, knowledgeable guides provide commentary on the area’s history, geology, and wildlife, including the elusive loons that call the lake home.

Spirit Island – The highlight of the cruise is undoubtedly Spirit Island, a small, tree-covered island that sits at the junction of Maligne Lake’s three glaciers. Visitors can disembark and explore the island, take photos, or simply take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.

Medicine Lake

On our way back from Maligne Lake, a beautiful stop on the road is Medicine Lake. Located along Maligne Lake Drive, Medicine Lake is located 20 km (12 mi) from Jasper town center. It is an incredible scene in the autumn as the lake disappears as the water sinks into sinkholes creating a beautiful pattern of water and sand.

Helicopter Tour to Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles

Abraham Lake is famous for its ice bubbles and this helicopter tour takes you over the Canadian Rockies to see its frozen lakes and glaciers. The helicopter tour flies over 6 glaciers followed by a landing at Landslide Lake. You’ll then take a guided snowshoe tour to see views of the Rocky Mountains. Its then back on the helicopter to the next stop, Abraham Lake. Get ready to strap on crampons to walk to see the bubbles of Abraham Lake. The bubbles are formed by methane gas being trapped in the ice creating amazing photo opportunities that have graced social media for years.

Dark Sky Preserve

Jasper is known for its dark skies and each year it hosts the dark sky festival in October. It has the second-largest dark sky preserve in the entire world, and heading out to the lakes at night, is one of the best things to do in Jasper. While the Dark Sky Festival is an annual event, you can appreciate the night sky in Jasper any time of year. The dark sky preserve is so good because it is free from light pollution and the crisp mountain air makes for crystal clear skies.The winter months are certainly the best time to enjoy the Jasper Dark Sky preserve due to the long nights. Make your way to one of the surrounding mountain lakes to enjoy the beauty of a night sky free from light pollution. It’s amazing because you can appreciate the night sky as early as 5pm.

Northern Lights

Alberta is known for its vast skies that are free of light pollution, and as we said, Jasper is known for its dark sky festival. While staying at Jasper Park Lodge, we woke at 3 am to see the night skies and the milky way at Lake Edith.

Jasper Planetarium

This operates all around Jasper National Park offering different experiences from an outdoor telescope experience to a dinner and stargazing package. Or spend an evening inside the Planetarium Dome to see and learn more about the Auroras, hear Indigenous stories and their constellations, and watch the starry skies over the Canadian Rockies. Jasper Planetarium is located at the main Lodge at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

Sidecar Motorcycle Tour

One of our favourite things to do in Jasper was to take a sidecar motorcycle. It’s one of the most unique activities as you tour the Rocky Mountains and Banff National Park on a Harley Davidson. Get geared up in full leather Harley Gear and enjoy the views as you take a tour of all the top Jasper attractions with Jasper Motorcycle Tours.
There are different durations and destinations from going to the Icefields Parkway, Marmot Basin, the Miette Hot Springs, or Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake, and Maligne Canyon. The possibilities are endless.
You can create your own motorcycle tour to see anything from Maligne Lake to Athabasca Falls with 1, 2 or, 3-hour ride options. You can even create shorter tours to get a feel for the open road in a side car to explore the turquoise lakes and viewpoints close to Jasper town center.

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Staying at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is an attraction unto itself. The rustic setting of luxurious and chic log cabins is set on the shores of Lac Beauvert with options to stay in log cabins, huge lake houses, and main building hotel rooms. There are elk and whitetail deer walking through the grounds and you feel as if you are in the middle of the wilderness while enjoying pure luxury.

Athabasca Falls

Jasper has some beautiful waterfalls to explore, and Athabasca Falls is an impressive flow of water over a 23-meter (75 feet) waterfall. The narrow gorge forces the Athabasca River creating a huge volume of water cascading over the falls. There is a hiking trail to various lookouts and a bridge for a better view of the falls.

Explore the Icefields Parkway

No trip to Jasper would be complete without driving the Icefield Parkway. This 293 km (182 miles) road trip stretches from Jasper National Park to Banff National Park with amazing stops along the way. The Icefields Parkway is considered one of the most beautiful road trips in the world and it starts right in Jasper. You can explore a portion or the entire drive that weaves through the most stunning scenery of the Canadian Rockies.

It can easily be done in a few hours, but we suggested a couple of days to see all of its attractions. So, let’s take a look at some of the places not to be missed on Icefield’s Parkway.

One Way Icefields Parkway Tour

Book this tour to Banff – If you flew into Edmonton and took the bus to Jasper, you can travel to Banff on this tour. Get picked up from your hotel to enjoy a full day tour to Banff to see its top attractions such as Athabasca Falls, Bow Lake and the Weeping Wall. You can enjoy the Athabasca Glacier on a guided tour or choose the Glacier Skywalk at the Columbia Icefields Centre. This is a great highlight tour for those without a car.

Jasper Wildlife

Jasper is in the middle of a wild and open national park and when you visit Jasper, be prepared to see a lot of wildlife. We saw more wildlife in Jasper than on any of our visits to Banff. Chances are you will encounter grizzly bears at some point, and you’ll definitely see elk, which roam freely on the grounds of Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. During our drives we saw whitetail deer run through the street, bighorn sheep sip water in the turquoise lakes by the side of the road and mountain goats high in the hills.

Where to Stay in Jasper National park

Whistlers Inn: This hotel is located in the heart of downtown Jasper and offers comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a lounge with live music. It’s a great option for those who want to be close to the town’s attractions and nightlife.

Forest Park Lodge – Formerly Sawridge Inn and Conference Center. Enjoy the Mountain Wellness Day Spa, dine in their restaurant Canadian Rockies cuisine and explore downtown Jasper with many restaurants and shops within walking distance.

Becker’s Chalets: This cozy accommodation is located on the Icefields Parkway, offering stunning mountain views and a peaceful setting. They offer a variety of cabins and suites with full kitchens and fireplaces.

Camping in Jasper National Park

There is plenty of camping in Jasper, you can check with Park’s Canada for availability. Wapiti Campground is located just outside of Jasper townsite and offers tent and RV sites with beautiful mountain views.

It’s a great option for those who want a more rustic camping experience. Sites can be booked ahead of time and there is a front country and backcountry camping. If you don’t have a lot of camping experience, but want to camp in the Rockies, try an oTentik at Whistler’s Campground.

How to Get to Jasper

There is no airport in Jasper. We flew into Edmonton and rented a car to drive to Jasper which is 365 km (226 miles). You can also drive from Banff Lake Louise up the Icefield’s Parkway.

Located in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Jasper National Park was officially established in 1907, after a group of Canadian Pacific Railway employees petitioned the Canadian government to protect the area. The park was named after Jasper Hawes, who was a trader with the Hudson’s Bay Company and one of the first Europeans to explore the region.

Today, it is a mecca for tourists wanting to enjoy the beauty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, incredible hiking trails, stunning lakes, and waterfalls you won’t soon forget. All of this with a fraction of the number of tourists that visit Banff. So, if you are looking for a great outdoor escape, then add these 25 best things to do in Jasper National Park to your bucket list.

How Far is Jasper From Banff?

Jasper is easily accessible by car or trains from major cities such as Calgary and Edmonton, and the townsite offers a variety of amenities and accommodations, from cozy cabins to luxury resorts.

Jasper is 288 km (179 miles) from Banff along the Icefields Parkway. To drive directly from Banff to Jasper is about 3 1/2 hours, but to stop at all the attractions, especially at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center, you’ll want at least a full day.

How Far is Jasper From Edmonton?

Jasper National Park is 363 kilometers (225 miles) west of Edmonton and takes approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes non-stop. You can travel to Jasper by car, bus or train. The nearest airport is Edmonton International Airport. From the airport, visitors can rent a car or take a bus to Jasper.

The most direct route to Jasper from Edmonton is via the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16), which takes approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes. The route is well-maintained and offers stunning views of the Alberta countryside.

Several bus companies offer daily service between Edmonton and Jasper, with a travel time of approximately 5 hours. Greyhound and Sundog Tours are two popular options.

Via Rail Canada offers a daily train service between Edmonton and Jasper, with a travel time of approximately 5 hours. The train offers stunning views of the Canadian Rockies and is a popular option for visitors looking to experience the scenery in a unique way.

How Far is Jasper from Calgary?

Jasper is approximately 412 kilometers (256 miles) northwest of Calgary and takes approximately 5 hours and 30 minutes to get there. Visitors can also fly into Calgary International Airport and from the airport, can rent a car to drive to Jasper.

The most direct route to Jasper from Calgary is via the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) and the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93), which takes approximately 5 hours and 30 minutes. The route is well-maintained and offers stunning views of the Canadian Rockies.

Several bus companies offer daily service between Calgary and Jasper, with a travel time of approximately 6 hours. Greyhound and Sundog Tours are two popular options.

Via Rail Canada offers a daily train service between Calgary and Jasper, with a travel time of approximately 6 hours. The train offers stunning views of the Alberta countryside and is a popular option for visitors looking to experience the scenery in a unique way.

Is Jasper Worth Visiting?

Jasper National Park is definitely worth visiting. We enjoy Jasper more than Banff as it sees fewer crowds and offers a more authentic experience without having to go into the backcountry. The park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including elk, deer, grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, and wolves, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Jasper National Park is home to some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world, with towering mountain peaks, sparkling lakes, glaciers, and dense forests that provide a truly immersive outdoor experience. There’s no shortage of outdoor adventure in Jasper, with activities such as hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, skiing, snowboarding, and dog sledding available for visitors to enjoy.

Unique experiences: Jasper offers a variety of unique experiences that can’t be found anywhere else, such as the Maligne Lake cruise, the Columbia Icefield Skywalk, and the Jasper Food Tour.

Overall, Jasper National Park offers a truly unforgettable experience for visitors, with its unparalleled natural beauty, abundant wildlife, outdoor adventure, unique experiences, and convenient accessibility making it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the best of Canada’s wilderness.

Jasper National Park Pass

When visiting Jasper, you must obtain a Jasper National Park Pass issued by Parks Canada. It allows visitors to access and enjoy the various attractions, activities, and services offered within Jasper National Park.

The Park Pass is valid for one year from the date of purchase and allows unlimited access to Jasper National Park during that time. There are several types of passes available, including individual, family/group, and commercial passes.

The cost of the pass varies depending on the type of pass and the duration of the visit. Prices can be found on the Parks Canada website and can be purchased online or at park entrances.

In addition to allowing access to the park, the Jasper National Park Pass provides various benefits, including access to interpretive programs, hiking trails, and day-use areas. The pass also supports conservation efforts and helps maintain and improve park facilities.

Best Time to Visit Jasper

The best time to visit Jasper National Park depends on your interests and preferences. Consider what activities you want to do, your budget, and your tolerance for crowds and weather conditions to decide which season would be the best fit for your trip.

Here is a breakdown of what to expect during each season:

  • Spring (March – May): This is a great time to visit Jasper National Park for those looking for fewer crowds, as the peak tourist season hasn’t started yet. The weather can be unpredictable, with snow still present in some areas, but there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking and wildlife viewing.
  • Summer (June – August): This is the peak season for Jasper National Park, with warm temperatures, long days, and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Popular activities during the summer months include hiking, camping, fishing, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives along the Icefields Parkway. However, it can be crowded, so be prepared to book accommodations and activities in advance.
  • Fall (September – November): This is a beautiful time to visit Jasper National Park, with the fall colors creating a stunning backdrop for hiking, photography, and wildlife viewing. The weather is cooler but still pleasant, and crowds start to thin out toward the end of the season.
  • Winter (December – February): Jasper National Park transforms into a winter wonderland during the colder months, with snow-covered landscapes and opportunities for winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and snowshoeing. The Northern Lights can also be visible during the winter months, adding to the park’s already spectacular scenery.

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