Jasper National Park is the ideal place in Edmonton for nature lovers who want to escape to the mountains, lakes, and valleys of the Rockies. To help you enjoy every minute of your weekend getaway, here are the main things to do when you visit the city of Jasper, Alberta.
Jasper has seen as Banff’s quieter, less commercial cousin. It is also the largest city of the two, which means more space to get away from it all. While Banff National Park is 6,641 square kilometers, Jasper National Park eclipses it with 10,878 square kilometers.
Getting to Jasper from Edmonton or Calgary
If you are traveling from Edmonton to Jasper, the journey takes less than four hours. The main highway is the Yellowhead Highway westbound until it turns southwest towards the park. After a bit of a mid-way, in Edson, dine at the Mountain Pizza & Steakhouse. For a panoramic stop, visit the Obed summit, which is the highest point on Highway 16. You will soon see rolling foothills and panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains.
The journey from Calgary to Jasper takes about five hours. The Trans-Canada Highway takes you west to Banff National Park, where you head northwest and follow Icefields Parkway (Highway 93 N), on one of the world’s most beautiful highway sections, which will take you to Jasper National Park. Check out this detailed map for picturesque corners along the Glacier Road. Some highlights include Peyto Lake and Bow Summit, with its gorgeous hiking trails in the mountains.
If you do not plan to drive, you can travel to Jasper by other means, such as Greyhound, Sundog Tours, and Via Rail.
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Day 1: Explore some must-see sites
Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Bear’s Paw Bakery with a roll or a sausage sandwich and stock up on hiking biscuits to maintain your energy level.
Here are some of the unmissable destinations:
- Athabasca Falls. It would be a shame to miss these majestic falls. Easy trails, especially for children, with self-interpretation panels, make it a short and enjoyable break.
- Canyon Maligne. This popular site has easy hiking trails and many lookouts and bridges – grab your camera! Choose between the short path of 30 minutes and the longest.
- Skytram Jasper. A trip on the Skytram offers a bird’s-eye view of the majestic mountains. Dine in the restaurant at the top of the mountain and hike the short trail, up the Whistler Mountain, overlooking Mount Robson. Dress warmly – the wind is cold at the top!
- Lakes Patricia and Pyramid. Located just a short drive north of Jasper, these two lakes offer plenty of water and beach activities in the summer. The docks are open year round and many trails are waiting to be borrowed. If you are short on time, lakes are a perfect place to take a memorable photo.
- Columbia Icefield. Glaciers melting quickly, experience this icy beauty while there is still time. Bus tours take you directly to the glacier, which is about an hour south of Jasper, or you can park your car and walk to the perimeter by yourself.
- For a filling, authentic Jasper meal, head to Papa George’s Restaurant where you can enjoy elk and wild boar.
Day 2: Slowing down and exploring nature
After visiting popular destinations on day 1, slow down and explore a few sites as you please:
- Mount Edith Cavell. Located 6 km south of Jasper, the Path of the Glacier is a 2 km hike with stunning views of a lake full of icebergs. Explore the flowering meadows of Mount Edith Cavell and admire the Angel Glacier in the shape of a wing.
- Lake Maligne. Located 50 km from Jasper, this glacier-fueled lake is surrounded by mountains. The famous Spirit Island is in the middle of Maligne Lake. Sign up for a boat trip or explore the lake and its surrounding trails at your own pace. Kayaks and canoes can be hired if you want to sail on water alone.
Finish by basking in the Miette Hot Springs, natural outdoor and mineral pools with majestic views of the Rockies.
If you are looking for a weekend retreat in a remote, wilderness area, Jasper will not disappoint. Make the most of your trip by avoiding the crowds of July and August.
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