Jasper. What is special about this world renown national park? Is it majestic Rockies, the untamed wilderness or the hospitality of the locals? It is all that and much more. We had a chance to explore Jasper and surrounding and have been left in awe of this magical place.
If you are still debating whether or not visit Jasper, let us introduce you to this amazing park.
Encountering wildlife in the parks ranks as #1 activity for visitors. No one wants to return without seeing a wild animal. While the probability of coming across an elk or a bear in Banff are slim, in Jasper it is pretty much a given. I was stressing out that with our luck, we will return without any images but animals graze right on the side of the road.
In fact, elk descend from the hills in the winter time and take refuge in the middle of the town. Nothing beats a stroll to grab a hot coffee and seeing elk grazing by the railroad across the street. Elk, goats and bighorn sheep are a common sight.
When the animals become your friends and you decide to explore the surroundings, a dilemma will most definitely arise… How can you see as much as possible in the short amount of time that you have. We have highlighted the most important sights to make it easy for you!
A mere hour drive from Jasper lies one of the most accessible and massive glaciers, the Columbia Glacier. You can take a tour and walk on the glacier or if you want to conquer your fear of heights, there is the Glacier skywalk. We parked right beside the glacier and had lunch with the glacier all to ourselves!
6km from Jasper is the skytram. It is the longest and highest tramway in Canada and is a safe and fun activity to do in the city. It is pricey though at $44 per person. Hours and tickets are found here.
By far the most famous sight in Jasper, Maligne lake is recognized by the small island called The Spirit Island. It is one of the most photographed landmark in the Rockies. The lake is famous for the color of its water, the three visible glaciers and teeming wildlife. Bears, moose, caribou and wolves can be encountered in the summer months here. We found a nice trail right along the water and ended up a few miles from the starting point. Superb photography spots around every bend of the lake.
The drive to Maligne Lake is an adventure and experience. The sights are spectacular and as you drive along snaking Maligne river, every bend offers a new picturesque sight. Along the way, take the time to stop at the canyon to explore the surrounding area. In some places, the crevices are up to 50 meters deep. We had tried in vain to look for fossilized rocks in the river but no luck.
Driving along Highway 93A, Athabasca falls is a must to visit. From Jasper it is 28 minute drive (32 km). A busy place in the summer with hordes of tourists, it is worth the visit to snap some images. There isn’t much to do in the area. When we arrived, we were the only car in the area and in minutes, three huge buses showed up with Chinese tourists that littered the lookout. They were gone in half and hour and were replaced by another group. Beware of high traffic visiting times and if you can, do what we always do; leave with sunrise!
Sunwapta Falls is spectacular! The way the river flows around a small islet will definitely leave you mesmerized. Come during sunrise on in bad weather and you can have this spectacle all for yourself!
From Jasper take highway 93 south for 38 minutes (58 km), there is a small parking lot available on site.
Minutes from Jasper is a lake that is not mentioned much by travelers and bloggers but it is worth a look. Called Patricia lake, it is a small lake that has WWII links beneath its waters.
England along with Canada, under strict secrecy had a plan to create an aircraft carrier made out of…ICE.
The project fell through but remnants of the hull and debris has remained and divers converge on this historic lake.
Pyramid lake has it all. A secluded resort, amazing fishing, dozens of trails, wildlife and some of the most spectacular photography hotspots. Pyramid lake is located 8km from the heart of Jasper and boasts moose, bear and wolf sightings.
Pyramid Overlook Hiking Trail
Those that like a challenge on their vacation, check out the overlook trail. It is a favorite among locals and they call it the hike to the end of the world. The hike starts from the Pyramid lake resort and follows the shore line to the Pyramid island and then veers off into the wilderness up into the mountains. The views of the Rockies from the top are breathtaking. It is very easy to get lost and we did just that! We ended up wandering for hours in the bush. It was getting dark, cold and animals were becoming more active with dusk. The lights from the resort below guides us down. So, avoid getting lost…
Pyramid Lake Bridge
Pyramid lake is a gift that keeps on giving and you should most certainly pay a visit to the Pyramid island that is connected by a small bridge. It is one of the most photographed spots in Jasper and looks completely different in every weather. We went every day, and it was like a new discovery each time.
Bonus points if you brave the cold and snow to visit the island in a snowstorm. The whole place is surreal and transports you unto pages of magical novels.
Jasper is breathtaking in every way. The rugged landscape and harsh climate, dense forests teeming with wildlife, thunderous waterfalls and turquoise colored lakes, the visual spectacles are never ending.
It might be one of the only places on Earth that must be visited over and over. We will most certainly be back!