Visiting natural wonders of the Canadian Rockies is an unforgettable experience, and one of the most popular places in Jasper National Park. There are so many amazing things to do and attractions in Jasper National Park.
Unlike its more famous neighbour Banff, Jasper has a cosy mountain vibe. It’s the largest national park in the Rockies, and visitors are always spread out through several valleys around town. Whether you’d like to go canoeing on an alpine lake, watch wildlife in their natural habitat, hike through colourful meadows or marvel at breathtaking glaciers, Jasper has every attraction you can think of.
This guide covers everything you need to know to plan your trip to Jasper National Park.
Get ready to pack your bags!
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The Best Time to Visit Jasper
Jasper is an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts, and therefore you can visit any time of the year and have a great time.
However, if you’d like to hike in the mountains or see stunning turquoise lakes, the best time to visit would be June to September.
Some lakes are still covered with snow and ice until May, and many hiking trails are either snowy or muddy, and difficult to cross. That being said, May is the best time to see the newborns. Mama bears, and their cubs usually hang around the roads in search of green and fresh food.
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How to Get to Jasper
Jasper is located in the province of Alberta in Western Canada, with the closest international airport in Edmonton (365 km). The choice of most visitors is flying to Calgary, about 413 km from Jasper.
There are a few shuttles that can take you to Jasper, but to get around town and to all attractions and hiking trailheads, you would need to drive yourself (there are no public buses or shuttles in Jasper National Park). I suggest renting a car or campervan in Edmonton or Calgary to get the most out of your time in the Rockies.
Driving from Calgary, you would first drive through Banff National Park and connect via Icefields Parkway, one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world, to Jasper National Park. It might take you a few hours or a few days. The stops along the Icefields Parkway offer gorgeous mountainous landscapes with hiking trails, waterfalls, and several glacier lookouts.
As soon as you enter any national park, you’re required to purchase a Park Pass that is valid for all national parks in Canada. To avoid waiting in line during the summer, you can buy it online in advance.
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Where to Stay in Jasper
Jasper town and Icefields Parkway going through the national park offer accommodation options for all visitors, no matter their preference.
Camping’s popularity is increasing every year. Waking up by the river surrounded by trees and mountains is a great way to start your day.
Jasper National Park has 11 campgrounds, most of them opened seasonally from mid-May to mid-October. If you’re planning to visit Jasper in summer, I highly suggest booking a campsite as soon as you can, the reservations open in January each year.
While there are reservable and first-come-first-serve campgrounds, booking it in advance can save you some driving time in summer. In June and September, you should have no trouble getting a campsite last minute. You can reserve a campsite through the Parks Canada website.
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Jasper town and the surrounding area offer a lot of comfortable accommodations. You can stay with locals at Bed & breakfast that can be booked through BBCanada or Jasper Home Accommodations.
Another option is to reserve a hotel or lodge in town. One of the most popular luxury accommodations is the Fairmont Hotel. While deciding where to stay, keep in mind that hotels are usually fully booked months in advance.
Top Pick: Patricia Lake Bungalows
Located in Jasper, Patricia Lake Bungalows features a private dock area and barbecue facilities. The guest rooms offer comfort and cosy furnishings. Each room has its own flat-screen TV and private bathroom. Some guest rooms offer air conditioning, dishwashers, coffee machines.
Rooms are also available with a kitchen and a seating area for your ultimate comfort. The resort offers guests the use of the outdoor hot tub as well as a children’s playground ideal for families.
Top Pick: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is located on the shores of the Beauvert Lake. The resort offers an award-winning golf course, 8 onsite restaurants and a beautiful spa. This cosy and rustic resort offers rooms that have a modern touch. Guests can choose between basic guest rooms or apartments.
Rooms come equipped with a refrigerator and some offer wonderful views of the lake. This is a perfect place to stay in winter and summer as it offers an array of activities and is close to local hikes as well as the Marmot Basin ski area.
Top Pick: HI-Athabasca Falls
The HI-Athabasca Falls is situated in Jasper and is family-friendly. The property offers free parking and the rooms have a patio where guests can relax. The hostel is well-rated for its location and is the perfect budget-friendly pick for a trip to Jasper.
Top Pick: Mount Robson Inn
Situated in the heart of Jasper National Park, this hotel offers a seasonal ski shuttle service. The Mount Robson Inn offers free wifi in all guest rooms as well as a refrigerator, coffee machine and work desk. Each of the rooms offers wonderful mountain views and comfortable accommodations for guests to take advantage of the cozy Jasper atmosphere. Guests can enjoy the 2 hot outdoor hot tubs as well as other activities in the surrounding area.
Top Pick: Pyramid Lake Resort
Located in Jasper National Park, Pyramid Lake Resort offers canoeing, fishing, and hiking. It features a private beach, on-site dining, and rooms with gas fireplaces. Wifi is available throughout the property and guest rooms are equipped with refrigerators and coffee makers. Guests can enjoy the onsite gym and hot tub. There is free parking available as well as an onsite restaurant that offers panoramic views of the resort.
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Things to do in Jasper
Because Jasper National Park is enormous, it’s impossible to see it all during your stay. There are, however, plenty of places and activities you can do in a week that will make you want to return.
Top recommendations along Icefields Parkway:
- Toe of the Athabasca Glacier is an easy stroll for a close up look at Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield in the Rockies of North America
- Sunwapta Falls & Athabasca Falls are fed by Athabasca Glacier and both easily accessible from the highway
- Horseshoe Lake is a pristine and unbelievably clear lake, an ideal place for swimming or stand up paddleboarding
Top recommendations around Jasper town:
- Visit the picturesque Pyramid Island for a picnic or a boat ride on Pyramid Lake
- Take a gondola to Whistlers Mountain for a bird’s eye view of Jasper and Athabasca Vallely and continue a little further up to the Whistlers Mountain Summit (2,463m)
- Watch Northern Lights dancing above your head dressed in purple and green colours (info on the forecast can be obtained in Information Centre)
- Visit Lake Annette and Edit Lake for a swim or stand up paddleboarding session
- Drive the Maligne Lake Road in dusk or dawn for a better chance to see local wildlife – bears, moose, deer, or bald eagles
- Rent a canoe or take a scenic cruise around Maligne Lake
- Walk the six bridges through the deep Maligne Canyon
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Hiking in Jasper
From easy family hikes to multi-day backpacking trips, you can choose a hike that fits your needs and fitness level.
These are my top recommendations for first-time visitors:
- Wilcox Pass (8 km) along Icefields Parkway for a bird’s eye view of Athabasca Glacier
- Valley of the Five Lakes (5.5 km) near Jasper is a family-friendly hike near Jasper around five emerald lakes
- Edith Cavell Meadows (8 km) is especially popular hike during summer when you hike among colourful wildflowers to Angel Glacier
- Bald Hills Trail (10 km) is a great moderate hike for a bird’s eye view of Maligne Lake
Before hiking in Jasper, make sure to visit the Information Centre for the latest trail reports and closures. They can provide you with a hiking map and lots of bear safety tips, which are crucial in the Canadian Rockies.
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Now that you are familiar with essential information and things to do in Jasper, you can plan an unforgettable stay. Enjoy your trip to Jasper!
Written by Maya & Michal. Maya & Michal are both nature lovers, adventure seekers and active travellers. They aim to inspire their readers to be more adventurous and discover new places off the beaten path. They currently live near the Canadian Rockies and you can read more about their travels at Travel with the Smile.