Visitors to the Rockies often don’t make it past Banff and Lake Louise. But if you have the time, not only is it worth the drive to Jasper – one of the most scenic in Canada – but I recommend spending a few days in the Jasper area.
Here are 10 things to do in Jasper and within an hour’s drive of the town in summer.
Visit Patricia and Pyramid Lakes
Drive to Patricia and Pyramid Lakes – only 15 minutes away from the Jasper townsite. Hike the loop trail around Patricia Lake or rent a canoe and explore the lake.
Ride the Jasper SkyTram
Take the Jasper SkyTram up Whistlers Mountain and feast your eyes on the incredible high alpine views. It’s Canada’s longest and highest aerial tramway, but you’ll have to cough up $49.30 per adult (2019) to go up.
Once on top there is some truly excellent hiking. On a clear day you can see Mount Robson in British Columbia.
Visit Athabasca Falls
Admire Athabasca Falls, thirty minutes to the south of Jasper via Highway 93 or 93A. While the falls are only 23 metres high, they are the most powerful ones in the Canadian Rockies.
The frozen falls are equally enjoyable to visit in the winter.
Discover Maligne Lake by boat
Drive to Maligne Lake – an hour’s drive away from Jasper and canoe, kayak or take one of the boat tours. Wildlife are frequently sighted on the drive.
Spirit Island which you’ll see on any boat tour is one of the most photographed places in the world.
Check out Maligne Canyon
Visit Maligne Canyon, 15 minutes east of Jasper. Walk the 3.7 kilometre interpretative trail crossing foot bridges over the canyon along the way. In winter you can walk up the icy canyon as the water drains like a bathtub.
Soak in Miette Hot Springs
Soak your troubles away in the Miette Hot Springs – the hottest in the Rockies. They’re one hour east of Jasper in the beautiful Fiddle Valley.
There are a number of pools so you can move from hot to cold to warm until your skin looks look a wrinkled prune. They are closed from Thanksgiving until early May.
Do the hike to Mount Edith Cavell Lookout
Switchback your way up the 14 kilometre Cavell Road through sub-alpine forest to reach the trailhead to the Mount Edith Cavell Lookout. (The road will be reopened by mid-June weather permitting.) Do not bring your trailer!
Join the rest of the tourists on the Path of the Glacier Trail. It won’t take you long to get those up-close glacier views you’ve probably seen in a postcard rack. The gorgeous turquoise meltwater of Cavell Pond only adds to the beauty and makes this area one of most stunning in all of Jasper National Park.
There is the option to continue hiking into Cavell Meadows which I highly recommend doing.
Go swimming in one of Jasper’s lakes
Swim – yes swim in the spring fed Lakes Annette, Edith and Beauvert, ten minutes away via Highway 16. You can also walk the one hour interpretative trail around the lakes.
Pick one of the many exceptional hikes in the Jasper area
Hike in some of the most glorious country in the Rockies. One of the best in the area is the Bald Hills trail. It starts in the vicinity of Maligne Lake and delivers wildflowers, glaciers, forests and desolate rock scenes. Even better – it’s a relatively easy 12.6 kilometre round trip hike.
Or if you want a multi-day hike try to score a reservation and do the phenomenal Skyline Trail. It’s one of the best ones I’ve done in Canada with over 40 kilometres above treeline.
Try canyoning in Jasper National Park
In 2016 I tried canyoning in Jasper National Park. It’s an adventure few people know about but it’s an amazing way to spend a day. There is some hiking involved to get to the point where you start the canyoning adventure.
Look for wildlife
In Jasper the chance of seeing wildlife is very high – especially in the early morning and at dusk. Drive carefully on any of the roads around Jasper. You may even get stopped on the Yellowhead Highway waiting for the animals to cross.
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I’ve stayed in my fair share of dodgy hotels in Jasper and I wouldn’t recommend the experience. Plan ahead, especially in summer, so you stay where you want. There is lots of camping and even that should be reserved well in advance here. Note that front country reservations start the first week of January!!!
In winter you can’t beat the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge for its location with a gorgeous skating rink nearby.
Choose the Maligne Canyon Hostel for an affordable option.
The The Crimson Jasper from what I’ve seen looks great – and I did tour most of the rooms.
For an out of town choice the Pyramid Lake Resort would be an excellent option.
Whistler’s Inn offers a convenient location with nicely renovated rooms. Don’t be put off by the appearance of the somewhat worn lobby.
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