Jasper is both a national park and the name of the resort town at its centre. It is known as Banff’s laid-back, small-town cousin, though it’s come a long way from its beginnings, first as fur-trading outpost, then as a tourist centre for the park created in 1907. Today, you’ll find an array of accommodations and eateries for every taste and budget, interesting examples of arts and crafts style alpine architecture, and a selection of museums and interesting galleries. The feel of Jasper reflects what it is, a thriving permanent community that has developed organically.
The biggest attraction here however is the park itself; the largest of Canada’s Rocky Mountain parks, you’ll be struck by the sense of sheer grandeur and space. It’s a gateway to many backcountry adventures, but you can get a feel for its wild charm without venturing too far from town and still be back in time to enjoy the alpenglow of sunset.Getting There/ Getting Around
Edmonton - Jasper Connections: There are a number of options to get to Jasper National Park by bus, train or from Edmonton International Airport. Many Edmonton residents make the 4-hour drive on the Yellowhead Highway (Hwy 16) to ski or relax into a fresh-air weekend. If you’re starting from (or going to) Banff and Lake Louise, the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93), with its strikingly scenic vistas, is the way to get there.
Once you’ve arrived in the Town of Jasper you'll find much of the town readily accessible on foot or bicycle. You can hire a taxi (Mountain Express Taxi (780.852.4555) or (780.852.3600). Note that there is no public transit available in the Town of Jasper. There are numerous walking/biking trails in the surrounding area. These trails are easily reached on foot from town. Once you’ve explored the Town of Banff consider taking a sightseeing tour, hiring a car or renting an RV to continue to see the amazing sites within the parks itself.Things to Do
Before you do anything else, stop at the Jasper Park Information Centre National Historic Site for additional information, maps and to appreciate the stone and timber architecture of this 1914 gem.
Jasper Tramway – the longest and highest guided aerial tramway in Canada, the Jasper Tramway is one of Jasper’s "peak" attractions. As it reaches the top of Whistler’s Mountain you’ll survey six mountain ranges, glacial lakes and a view of the town tucked into the valley. Once you’re up there, the short walk to the very top is well worth the minor effort.
Maligne Lake – one of the most iconic locations in the Canadian Rockies. The 90-minute scenic cruise to tiny Spirit Island, perched at the far end, has been dubbed "The Best Boat Tour in Canada" by Readers Digest. Once you’re there, visit historic Curly Philips Boathouse, where you can arrange fishing, rafting canoeing or hiking, with or without a guide.
Maligne Canyon – the most notable canyon in the Canadian Rockies. In summer, you’ll pass springs and rushing water. In winter it becomes a surreal world of crystalline shapes.
Miette Hotsprings – an hour’s drive from town, these hotsprings fill a large swimming pool. The hottest in the Rockies at 104 degrees, they are busy in summer when many enjoy the sight of pristine wilderness rising up around them through the steam. A good place to soothe aching muscles after a rigorous hike up adjacent Sulfur Mountain.
Family-Friendly Jasper – most of Jasper’s activities are family-friendly but on a rainy day try the Jasper Yellowhead Museum, with its artifacts from the fur-trading era, fun and informative videos on the Canadian Rockies and an artificial cave. Adults will also find this historical archive fascinating.
Golf – eighteen holes at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge resort's golf course, which is acclaimed for its Stanley Thomson design, challenging layout and fantastic setting.
Scenic Drives – include the road to Maligne Lake, Pyramid Lake Road and Cavell Road where you’ll also have plenty of photography and wildlife watching opportunities. A fun alternative to car or bus is a chauffeured tour on a Harley Davidson motorcycle with a sidecar (motorcycle leathers included!)
Icefields Parkway – the epitome of scenic drives, this highway runs parallel to the Great Divide, with several worthwhile scenic attractions along the way. (In case you’re wondering, an icefield is a body of ice from which ice flows out in different directions.) Make sure to stop and take a guided excursion at the Icefields Centre. Experience what’s it’s like to ride in a sno-coach on the surface of the Athabasca Glacier on one of many guided tours. More about the Icefields Parkway here or look at these 360° panoramas to see for yourself.
Wildlife and Photography – Jasper is a haven for wildlife and the photographers who stalk them. Residing here are moose, wapiti, big horn sheep, mountain goats, mule deer, black bear and the occasionally spotted grizzly or cougar. Take advantage of the knowledge of one of many local guides to find the most likely spots for wildlife.
Horseback Riding – Explore the beauty of the mountains on horseback. Take a wagon ride around town, go on a day trip or get into the backcountry with an experienced guide or outfitter.
Skiing and Snowboarding – Shred the slopes at Marmot Basin, which offers a wonderful variety of terrain, a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and great value for families just twenty minutes from the town of Jasper.
Biking and Hiking –You could spend weeks or years exploring options for outdoor activities in Jasper and still find more trails and summits to conquer.
Mountain bike up an old fire road to the top of Signal Mountain. Get an elevated view of the Icefields from Mt. Wilcox or have a picnic while you admire the valley and see the beautiful white creatures named after Goat Lookout. See glacial debris and the flower-filled meadows above along Mt. Edith Cavell’s two interpretive trails. Guides are available for short or more demanding hiking excursions. Experience nature closest to town on the 8km (5 mi) Jasper Discovery Trail, parts of which are wheelchair accessible.
Water Sports – Jasper offers whitewater rafting for adrenaline junkies, as well as windsurfing on Patricia and Pyramid Lakes. Paddlers have access to canoeing and kayaking here and in several other local lakes.
Fishing – there is much fruitful casting to be done in Jasper and surrounding area. Fish for trout in beautiful Maligne Lake or hire a guide and try your luck in many local lakes, streams and rivers.
The focus here is on the outdoors; even local music performances happen under cover of typically clear skies. You can often check out a band at one of a few small venues after a day in the outdoors, but you’re just as likely to curl up in a comfy chair with a loved one to watch the sun set behind the mountains.
During the Jasper in January promotion, everything from lift tickets to hotel rooms and special events is discounted.Restaurants
The vibe in this town is authentic and low-key, but fun. That’s not to say that Jasper restaurants don’t offer something for most palates; you’ll find sushi, souvlaki and steak sandwiches as well as creative fusion menus featuring local ingredients.Shopping in Jasper
Jasper galleries feature art ranging from contemporary works by local artists to fine art by aboriginal and Inuit artists with a few kitschy, mountain-themed souvenirs thrown in for fun. You’ll also find a nice selection of outdoor and sports wear, interesting jewellery and lots of other unique items as you browse the independently-owned shops along Patricia and Connaught streets. Camping supplies and other gear are also readily available. Browse Jasper shopping here...Accommodations
Jasper offers a variety of lodging options, including well-appointed, secluded private cabins or bungalows close to town, a selection of motels and hotels and a couple of boutique inns within the town. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is a luxurious, rustic-feeling resort with all the extras. Campers and recreational vehicle or caravan enthusiasts will find over 1700 campsites in 10 campgrounds within the park, ranging from the primitive to those with electricity and showers.
Return to the Alberta Regional Overview page.
Map: To zoom closer click the "plus" (+) button in the navigation bar on the left of the screen. To zoom out click the "minus" (-) button on the navigation bar. To navigate (move/pan your view), click and drag the map. To view street-level imagery for a specific location, click and drag the yellow man icon from left hand side bar onto streets highlighted in blue.
Photo credits: Jasper streetscape courtesy of Perry Tang.
Cycling in the Rockies (Cdn To...
Upper Hot Springs, Banff
Tipis (photo credit Travel Alb...
View from Sulfur Mountain Gond...
"People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home" - Dagobert D. Runes