10 Great Things To Do in Jasper
Between its fairytale forests, lofty mountains and jewel-toned lakes, Jasper National Park is a haven for outdoor adventurers or anyone in need of unplugging. Here’s how to make the most of your next visit.
The Best Things to Do in Jasper
Ride the Jasper Skytram
Every savvy traveller knows getting the lay of the land is job number one. Get your bearings via Jasper Skytram, an aerial tramway that whisks guests 2,263-metres up to the top of Whistlers Mountain. During the 7-minute ride, you’ll learn all about Jasper’s unique flora and fauna, plus its geographic wonders. Sweeping views of the Athabasca River, six mountain ranges and Mount Robson (the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies) await your arrival, as do several hiking trails.
Explore Breathtaking Lakes
What distinguishes Jasper from other Rocky Mountain parks isn’t just how pretty its lakes are, but how easy it is to access them. With more than a dozen gem-coloured lakes within a 10-minute drive of town, visitors are spoiled for choice, no matter the season. Pyramid Lake is a must-visit for photo opps and ice skating, while nearby Patricia Lake is where locals flock for a beach fix. Not to miss is Valley of the Five Lakes, encircled by a family-friendly, 4.6-kilometre trail that’s just as easy to knock off in snowshoes as it is in hiking boots.
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Admire the Wildlife
Of the countless things to do in Jasper, wildlife viewing will likely give you the biggest thrill. There are 53 species of mammals that call Jasper National Park home, including grizzly and black bears, wolverines, cougars, caribou, elk, moose and marmots, a large (yet adorable) ground squirrel. Your best bet for a safe encounter is by taking a wildlife tour. All too often, over-enthusiastic tourists fail to keep a safe distance. Should you run into wildlife, be sure to stay 30 metres away for elk and deer, and 100 metres away for carnivores.
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Soothe Sore Muscles
Don’t make the mistake of not budgeting in some time for rest and relaxation. With so many high-energy things to do in Jasper, your poor tootsies could likely use some TLC. For that, head to Miette Hot Springs, the hottest hot springs in the Canadian Rockies. Situated less than an hour’s drive from Jasper townsite, you’ll soak up mountain views in addition to healing minerals in the rich thermal waters. And don’t worry if you’ve forgotten your trunks: For just a toonie, you can rent one of those charmingly old-fashioned retro-style swimsuits.
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Take a Motorcycle Tour
One of the most interesting ways to explore Jasper is on the back of a motorbike or in a motorcycle sidecar with Jasper Motorcycle Tours. Local guides customize tours based on your interests: Whether it’s wildlife, secret wildflower spots or epic mountain views, you’ll cruise along roads less travelled, gaining an insider’s perspective into this awe-inspiring national park. With the wind in your face, your only job is sitting back and enjoying the ride—after picking out which leather jacket and chaps you’ll want to wear, that is.
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Explore Maligne Canyon
Who doesn’t love a short, easy hike with plenty of waterfall action? A natural landmark of staggering beauty, Maligne Canyon is a deeply creviced slot canyon visitors can explore thought the year. When the underground water from Medicine Lake freezes, you can trek along the canyon’s frozen floor, marvelling at the many frozen waterfalls and natural ice sculptures. When the water’s flowing, stroll across purpose-built bridges and peer down into the depth of the canyon as waterfall after waterfall gushes into it.
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Drive the Icefields Parkway
Touted as one of the world’s most spectacular scenic drives, the Icefields Parkway links Jasper with Lake Louise, another iconic mountain resort town. The 232-kilometre route weaves its way past stunning mountain vistas, meadows rife with wildlife and over 100 ancient glaciers. Not to miss along the route is the Columbia Icefield Skywalk, a kilometre-long interpretive walkway, where only a glass platform separates you from a 918-foot (280-metre) drop.
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Marvel at Spirit Island
A spiritual place for the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, Spirit Island is one of those iconic Canadian destinations you really must see firsthand. While it’s technically possible to paddle to Spirit Island, an interpretive boat cruise through the glacial waters makes an even better option. Preservation efforts prohibit visitors from venturing onto the island itself, but no matter: This tiny glade of trees encircled by mountains and glaciers is best appreciated from the many viewpoints surrounding it.
Experience a Dark Sky Preserve
The night skies above Jasper are a sight to behold. Thanks to its limited light pollution, Jasper was designated as a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society back in 2011, and remains the largest accessible Dark Sky Preserve on Earth. Astronomers and stargazers from around the world converge in Jasper each October during Jasper Dark Sky Festival for guided stargazing and celestial experiences like no other.
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Treat Yourself at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
There are plenty of places to rest your head in Jasper, but none quite so sumptuous as Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Picturesque paths winding along Lac Beauvert lead to heritage log cabins dotted throughout the 700-acre property. Hit the links at one of Canada’s most famous golf courses or raise a glass inside the main lodge, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Your best option, however, is to spend the night, just as Queen Elizabeth II, King George VI and a host of other notable VIPs have done throughout the decades.
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