No trip to Alberta, Canada is really complete without stopping in the National Parks. Jasper National Park has endless things to do, hikes to go on and lakes to swim in.
Out of the many, many things to do in Jasper, here are 12 of our favorites.
1. Athabasca Falls & Glacier
On the way up to the town of Jasper, you'll pass Athabasca Glacier while you're roadtrippin' on one of the most scenic drives in the world, The Icefields Parkway. There is the opportunity to do a tour of the glacier and walk all over it -- but it's pretty great to just see a glacier up close, and there's a large parking lot to stop off in for a pit stop.
Athabasca Falls are huge, thundering falls that have easy access -- a parking lot right near by and a few flat pathways leading around the falls. Be sure to get there early, before all the big tour busses get there and the pathways are over run.
2. Maligne Lake & Canyon
Maligne Lake is a huge, beautiful lake that is definitely worth some exploring. There is a small island called Spirit Island that many people take boat tours to to view and explore around that area of the lake. There is also the option to rent canoes and kayaks, but the Maligne Lake Boathouse that does the rentals does not open until 10 AM. There are a few companies in the town of Jasper that have canoes tied up at the lake that you can rent the day before and that way you can show up to the lake early, and get out on the water before the masses at 10 AM.
There's a trail that winds around the whole lake as well as another lake called Moose Lake where wildlife can be seen early in the morning.
Maligne Canyon has a pretty good network of trails of various lengths that will take you around the canyon. For the non-hikers, there is also a Maligne Canyon Lookout with parking and a nice view.
3. Edith & Annette Lakes
On the way to Maligne Canyon, you'll pass these two smaller lakes just outside the town of Jasper. Both of the lakes are swimmable, but cold in the summer months (July, August). They're both crystal clear and great for putting a kayak, canoe, or SUP in and spending time on the lake. These lakes are by no means a hidden secret, and later in the day there are plenty of people on the little dock soaking in the sun and dipping their toes in the refreshing water.
4. Whitewater Rafting
There are a few rivers that have Class III or above rapids. The first is at Fraser River, which is a bit of a drive from Jasper and is surrounded by the Canadian Rockies -- most notably, Mount Robson. There are plenty of opportunities to view wildlife and get a few backcountry experiences in the area as well. The Fraser River is also chock full of salmon, and is a wonderful place to fish.
The second place to catch Class III rapids is on the Sunwapta River, which is south of the town of Jasper.
5. Sunwapta Falls
This unique waterfall is essentially two falls that converge into one before cascading over the edge. The run-off is from the Athabasca Glacier and the Falls are thundering as the Glacier melts in the summer months. These falls are also fairly accessible, with a parking lot nearby and trails leading to the falls.
6. Explore the town of Jasper
A little mountain town, Jasper has plenty of cute little shops to pop into for souvenirs. Also, there are some amazing restaurants and coffee shops. Most notably, the Bear's Paw coffee shop WILL have a line around the corner during peak season. In fact, the coffee shop has become so popular that they opened up a second location just down the street called, The Other Paw. The main draw of the coffee shop is that there are amazing pastries there, and most people seem to be stocking up on their goodies for several days.
Among the great restaurants to try, be sure to stop into Jasper Curry Place for some good Indian food and into Jasper Brewing Company for the typical burgers, salads and the like.
If you're looking for tours, there are plenty of companies in the town to stop in for information!
7. Go Tea-housing!
Finding a tea house at the top of a hike is a welcomed sight. There are several tea houses just like this scattered in the National Parks in Canada. Originally, the tea houses were built by the Canadian Pacific Railway and at the end of a hike...ohhh there are just the ticket for a hot tea and some treats. Be sure to bring cash, not all of the tea houses take bank cards!
8. Mt. Edith Hike
The mountain is named after Edith Cavell, a British nurse who helped soldiers from both sides during World War I. She was eventually executed by a German firing squad for helping soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium.
For the Mt. Edith Hike, plan on a whole day of hiking and passing hikers during the popular summer months. Along the way, you'll pass rivers, small lakes, snow-capped peaks, and several glaciers. There are also several trails leading to the top that vary in difficulty, so be sure to check out the different trails for your hiking abilities.
9. Camp Out!
In Jasper, there are so many great campgrounds to choose from. The rules at the campgrounds are generally pretty strict when it comes to noise-- including a "no-generator" rule for RV's during certain times -- which is definitely a plus. Even during the day, the campgrounds are quiet and you can lay in your hammock and enjoy the breezes blowing by and hear all the birds. Although some of the campgrounds are quiet large, the camping spots are large and you'll feel like you have your own slice of Jasper nature all to yourself.
10. Get yer butt up early and view wildlife!
There are plenty of opportunities to view all kinds of wildlife such as; moose, bears, elk, foxes and many more! The trick is to know when the best times to catch them -- usually before all the humans arrive places in the early morning and in the evening after all the humans have left. Even not within these time constraints, you'll probably still see some wildlife occasionally. There are also tour groups in the town of Jasper that will take you out on wildlife viewing tours to take you to areas that consistently have wildlife.
11. Farmer's Market
If you're visiting Jasper between the months of June and September, don't miss the farmer's market that takes place every Wednesday from 11-3pm. Here you'll find fresh food, handmade treats and crafts, artwork and so much more!
12. Don't forget your live music
Although the town of Jasper is fairly small, there's a great place to catch a variety of music. Don't forget to check out the Whistle Stop Pub that features local musicians as well as out-of-town talent. The pub is located in the Whistler's Inn.
We know how hard it is to get everything organized in life. Between working full-time, running errands, spending time with family + friends, and having a little bit of time for yourself -- the thought of alllllll the things that go into going on a trip can be majorly overwhelming.
That's why we put together and 11 page travel planning timeline to help you stay on track. Everything from when you should start saving for your trip, to when to purchase your international flights and get your home and bills taken care of while you're gone exploring the world! We don't mess around, because we know organization is life.