Going on vacation to actually, well..take a vacation from the real world? Jasper, Alberta couldn’t be more fitting. Natural, glacier fed lakes? Check. A UNESCO World Heritage Site? Check. Beautiful hiking trails, backcountry campgrounds, and endless bike-able roads? Absolutely. This small town of just over 4,000 was established in 1813, originally as a fur trading post, and sits in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. With its unique location, you’ll have the choice to see the mountains up close, from an aerial view, or off in the distance. Quaint and modern, the town’s main industry is tourism, but not the posh, high-end type. This laid-back mountain town is known for attracting the more adventurous travelers and has lured naturalists and hikers for its convenient location to the wilderness.
Things to do in Jasper
The biggest attraction in town, Jasper National Park, is also part of the Canadian Rockies, a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. This vast park combines sparkling blue lakes and ice fields with wildlife and snowcapped mountains to bring visitors into what feels like a majestic world. Start at Lac Beauvert, a glacier fed lake at the outskirts of town. Enjoy the crystal blue waters and take the 1-hour hike around the lake. For a long, nearly 8-hour day hike, consider hiking Jasper Mountain, a mountain omnipresent while in the town itself. This difficult hike will challenge you with rocks and boulders to climb over, but the summit gives way to an incredible view of the lake at its base and the other mountains surrounding it. You might even see some woodland caribou on your way up. For a significantly shorter hike and somewhat adrenaline-worthy view, try finding Edge of the World, just a 20-minute drive from town and 15-minute hike. Ask the locals for directions to this spectacular, hidden gem and they might just clue you in.
There’s so much to do in Jasper National Park, you may find yourself wanting to spend full days exploring it. You can rent kayaks and canoes from local rental shops and take them into one of the many waterways scattered throughout the park, like Maligne Lake, the second largest glacier-fed lake in the world. There’s an old mining site you can wander around and see what life was like in the early 1900s. Athabasca Falls has pathways along the canyon, while its views are out of this world. The walk is fairly easy, and the stunning waterfalls can be seen from ramps and viewing platforms. Maligne Canyon has a great walk up to the falls in the Rockies, and the amazing scenery changes with the seasons. The whole trip can be done in a few hours, while you hear the rush of the waterfalls. Get up to the Columbia Ice Field to see the glacier. The trip can be done on a coach tour, or you can drive up yourself. It’ll be cold, so be prepared! The Pyramid and Patricia Lakes are best at sunrise or sunset. In the summer, the clear lakes are perfect for swimming, and in winter they sparkle beautifully. Take Jasper’s SkyTram up Whistler’s Mountain to reach an elevation of 7,472 feet and take in the views of the mountains and valleys down below. The possibilities are endless in this national park, so try to check as many of them off your list as possible!
Day Trips from Jasper
Canada’s expansive land means that most cities or tourist destinations are quite far away from each other. Jasper is three and a half hours away from the Wells Gray Provincial Park, but it’s well worth it. The park is popular in the warmer months from spring to fall. Helmcken Falls is the main attraction, as the fourth highest waterfall in all of Canada. Trophy Mountain is popular for hiking, with blooming meadows in the summer. Clearwater Lake has campgrounds, and the lake itself is filled with water from Osprey falls. Take a boat tour, or rent one yourself to explore the lake. Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, is four hours away from Jasper if you’re up to the travelling. Get cultured at The Art Gallery of Alberta in downtown Edmonton, as the building is a piece of art in itself. Walk back in time at Fort Edmonton Park, the largest living history museum. The streetcars and wagons are ripe with nostalgia, and there are also original structures from Edmonton’s history. The Muttart Conservatory features botanical gardens in glass pyramid greenhouses. A refreshing stop!
Transportation in Jasper
With not too much public transportation, the Jasper Railway Station operates a few times a week, so you’ll want to check the timetables. You can take Via Rail, or the Rocky Mountaineer trains that go right into Jasper. The Jasper Airport is north of the town, but the Edmonton and Calgary airports are much more frequented. A car rental would definitely come in handy if you want to drive to different parts of the Jasper National Park, or up to Jasper itself.
Getting to Jasper from out of the area is best accomplished by flying into either Calgary or Edmonton International Airport. You’ll want to rent a car, as Calgary is a solid 5-hour drive to Jasper and Edmonton is a good 4 hours. While in Jasper, you might want that rental car to get to various parts of the national park, so it’s best to rent one anyhow. You can walk to many places within Jasper itself, as it is not a big town and many of the bars and restaurants are located within a few blocks’ radius.
Tripping.com offers hundreds of vacation rentals in picturesque Jasper. Stay in town and enjoy the amenities it has to offer, like a local brewery and a handful of delicious restaurants. Or, choose a mountain chalet at the edge of Jasper National Park for easy access to nature and away from all the noise. You’ll be hard-pressed to find something you don’t like on Tripping.com, so check out your options and start planning your mountain adventure today.