When planning our trip to Alberta we knew we had to visit Jasper National Park. Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and is part of UNESCO’s Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
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Four Day Jasper National Park Itinerary
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Not only is Jasper National Park known for its majestic peaks, wildlife, and natural beauty, it is also a designated Dark Sky Preserve. There are so many great things to experience in the great outdoors of Jasper. Everything from hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, wildlife viewing, golfing, and so much more. There is something for everyone.
I didn’t realize how much I would love being in the mountains. Just seeing the majestic mountains as we approached Jasper took my breath away.
Guide to Visiting Jasper National Park
How to Get to Jasper National Park
We booked our flight from Hamilton, Ontario airport to Edmonton, Alberta with Swoop Airlines. We were really unsure if we were going to move forward with this trip due to the COVID pandemic but after much contemplation and learning more about what airlines are doing, we decided to go for it.
Swoop airlines thoroughly groom their airplanes in between flights, with the collection of garbage, vacuuming as required and disinfection of all surfaces using fogging.
Fogging is a cleaning method that uses a safe, hydrogen peroxide-based disinfecting solution to quickly and effectively sanitize onboard surfaces. The technicians treat the entire cabin ensuring coverage of surfaces including galleys, lavatories, ceilings, floors, windows and shades, cabin walls. Fogging is also used in between each flight to treat all seat surfaces like armrests, headrests, tray tables, seat belt buckles, overhead panels, and bins.
Did you know that cabin air is filtered through hospital-grade HEPA filters that are highly effective, removing more than 99.9 % of particulates like viruses, bacteria, and fungi from recirculated air.
Cabin air is 50% fresh air brought into the cabin and 50% “Recirculated air” which is drawn through HEPA filters to remove particulates.
The closest airport to fly into when visiting Jasper National Park is Edmonton airport. It is approximately a 4-hour drive. The drive to Jasper National Park from Calgary airport is approximately 4 ½ hours.
Getting Around Jasper National Park
Renting a car and driving from the airport is the best way to get to the National Park. It is a fairly easy drive along Trans-Canada Highway 16, also known as the Yellowhead that runs through the park and is the main east-west route to and from Jasper.
If you are arriving from Banff then the Icefields Parkway, the most scenic stretches of highway in the world, connects Jasper with Trans-Canada Highway 1 near Lake Louise and Banff.
Jasper National Park Admission Fees
There are admission fees for Jasper National Park. The park entry is based on daily fees: adults $10.00 CAD per person, per day, seniors $8.40, and youth under 17 are free. There is also a family and group rate of $20 per day. The receipt is taped to your windshield. Don’t try to avoid paying the fee as this can lead to a fine. There are random checkpoints to see if you have a park pass. Check the Parks Canada website for the most up to date fees.
Best Time To Visit Jasper National Park
We visited Jasper National Park at the end of July – beginning of August. Although it was generally quieter due to no international travelers, this is also generally the busiest time to visit. June through September is high season for travel so you may run into large crowds.
If you plan on hiking and want to see the turquoise lakes then the summer months are the best time to visit. If you are looking for less crowds and lower prices then spring or fall may be a more ideal time to plan your travels. If you enjoy winter activities then visit during the winter months when it looks like a winter wonderland.
Accommodations in Jasper, Alberta
There are a lot of accommodation options available in Jasper. Everything from budget to luxury is available. I would recommend booking accommodations close to downtown for convenience. Also, make sure to book your accommodation as far in advance as possible. Most hotels and campgrounds get booked up during the summer months.
We stayed at The Crimson. This modern lodging in the heart of Jasper features 99 spacious guest rooms as well as studios and suites that also have full kitchens. The decor of the hotel has a classic lodge feel. The Crimson hotel is a great spot to rest up and get a good night’s sleep for your day of adventures in Jasper. This is the perfect home base to explore jasper as it is steps away from restaurants and local shops. The best part is that you can leave your car behind and walk around town.
I love the lobby of The Crimson, it has a cozy cabin-like feel to it with a fireplace and decor to match.
We stayed in a comfortable standard king room that offers an HD television, a microwave, mini-fridge, Keurig coffee, and a tea kettle. The bathrooms were extra spacious with a stand-up shower. No need to bring your hairdryer, they have you covered. The room also has air conditioning, an in-room safe, and of course, complimentary Wi-Fi. I love that they use eco-friendly bathroom amenities.
Before heading out a day of adventure, make sure to stop in and fill your belly with a hearty breakfast at Authentic Burger. Check for prices and availability at The Crimson.
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Where to Eat in Jasper, Alberta
Downstream Restaurant & Lounge
Sotirios Korogonas opened the Downstream Restaurant and Lounge in 2008 as a concept for a modern restaurant and lounge that captures Jasper’s mountain town spirit and casual feel. Executive Chef David Gomez masterfully creates the best cuisine in Jasper.
Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen
The Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen is situated right in Maligne Canyon. Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen serves up a smokehouse-flavored menu seasoned with exploration and adventure.
Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen overlooks the rushing river the runs through Maligne Canyon. You can sit indoors for a cozy cabin feel or sit out on the patio for spectacular views. I would recommend the pulled pork cigars as an appetizer followed by the Wilderness Platter. The Wilderness Platter comes with a selection of Smoked and Glazed Baby Back Pork Ribs, Hickory Smoked Sunrise Farms Chicken, 16 Hr. Slow-Cooked BBQ Alberta Beef Brisket and Grilled Venison Sausage. Reserve your table here.
Other restaurants you don’t want to miss include:
- Coco’s Cafe – View Menu
- Sunhouse Cafe – View Menu
- The Pines- View Menu
- Coco’s Cafe– View Menu
- Hearthstone Lounge- View Menu
- The Crazy Elk Cafe– View Menu
- The Crimson Jasper– View Menu
- Jasper Brewing Company –View Menu
- Evil Daves Grill -View Menu
- Famoso -View Menu
- Jasper Pizza Place -View Menu
- Tekarra Restaurant- View Menu
Take a Skytram Ride Up Whistlers Mountain
For spectacular views of Jasper and the surrounding area, you must take the seven-minute Skytram ride up to Whistlers Mountain. The views are amazing.
Once you get off of the Skytram you can explore the area close to the base or hike up to Whistlers Peak. The hike up is 1.1 km one way with an elevation of 150 meters. We are in pretty decent health condition but I felt the elevation and thin air when hiking up. We are not used to these types of elevations. Take as many breaks as needed.
I would recommend dressing in layers. It was a bit windy and chilly when we first got up there but once we started hiking we started shedding some of the layers. I would also recommend wearing hiking shoes or a pair of running shoes for more grip as there are elevated areas of the trail. Bring a backpack with water, sunblock, a hat, a snack, and maybe a rain poncho just in case.
Whistlers Mountain is named after the Hoary Marmots that you may encounter along your hike and they are known for making whistling calls.
If you decide to hike to the peak, there are two trails. One that zig-zags most of the way up and the other one that goes straight up. We originally went straight up then opted for the zig-zag route. Buy Your Tickets Here.
Visit Pyramid Lake at Sunrise or Sunset
Pyramid lake is so beautiful and only a 10-minute drive from downtown Jasper. I had to visit for sunrise and sunset. Be warned, the sunrise during the summer months is around 5:30 am and the sunset is around 10:00 pm.
Pyramid Lake is a kidney-shaped lake that lies at the foot of Pyramid Mountain. Pyramid Island is a popular spot for photos. It’s not really an island as it is connected to the mainland by a wooden walkway.
Take in The Views of Medicine Lake
Medicine Lake is located within Jasper National Park and is approximately 20 km southeast of the townsite of Jasper, Alberta. It is a great pitstop on your way to Maligne Lake. There is a pull-off viewpoint where you can take in the views of the lake.
Take a Boat Cruise on Maligne Lake
Visiting Maligne Lake is a must during your visit to Jasper. Book a Maligne Lake boat cruise that will take you out to beautiful Spirit Island. Declared the “Best Boat Cruise in Canada” by 8 million Reader’s Digest subscribers, the Maligne Lake Cruise is an experience like no other. Join us on a panoramic tour across the crystal waters of magical Maligne Lake, fed by the glaciers of Jasper National Park. Glide past the jagged mountain peaks as we cruise to Spirit Island, a world-famous destination only accessible by boat.
Maligne Lake is the second largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies and is famed for the color of its blue water, the surrounding peaks with three visible glaciers from the lake, and Spirit Island, a very famous photographed islet.
There are only two ways to get to Spirit Island. One is by booking the Maligne Lake boat cruise and the other is to paddle in a canoe approximately 4 hours each way.
Spirit Island is a spiritual place for the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, who believe mountains are physical representations of their ancestors. The fact that Spirit Island is surrounded on three sides by the same mountain range is very rare and makes it particularly significant to the Stoney.
Hike Maligne Canyon
Maligne Canyon is the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park, with depths of more than 50 meters at certain points. Hikers of all levels can hike the area. There are six bridges built across various points of the canyon with viewing points. For those looking for a gentle hike, head over the First and Second bridges. The Second Bridge is the highest point of the canyon, standing more than 50 meters above the water.
Maligne Canyon Loop Trail is a 3.4 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail located near Jasper, Alberta, Canada that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from April until September.
The Maligne Canyon section of Trail 7 provides the best views of Jasper’s famous limestone gorge. Cross the suspension bridge over the Maligne River and keep right at all intersections as you work your way up the canyon, gaining 100 m. (You can start at the top and walk down the canyon trail, but the views are better if you’re facing up-canyon.) Water gushes from springs along the way; interpretive signs explain how Maligne Canyon is connected to Medicine Lake, 15 km away, by a cave system.
I would love to return to Maligne Canyon during the winter months and join a Maligne Canyon ice walk.
Canoeing at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
What better way to enjoy the blue skies of a summer day than by drifting over the crystal clear waters of Lac Beauvert while Rocky Mountain peaks soar above you. The boathouse offers canoe and kayak rentals, pedal boats, stand-up paddleboards and more, so you can get out and explore the hidden coves of this beautiful glacier-fed lake. Canoe rentals for 1-hour are $75 CAD.
Jasper Planetarium and Telescope Experience
Did you know that Jasper NationalPark is a designated Dark Sky Preserve? A great place to enjoy the world’s largest dark sky preserve.
We enjoyed a guided tour of the Jasper Dark Sky Preserve in a 50-seat domed theater with an astronomy expert. After the guided tour we got to experience the Rockies dark skies and explored planets and the stars. The Jasper Planetarium is located at the Fairmont Jasper Hotel.
Explore the Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway connects two Canadian national parks that link Lake Louise in the south with Jasper in the north. The Icefields Parkway is one of the top 10 scenic drives in the world.
The 230-km journey through the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains offers the opportunity to travel through protected wildlife habitats and to witness nature at work.
Some highly suggested stops along the way are Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls.
The Columbia Icefield Skywalk is a bird’s eye view of the Sunwapta Valley. This 1km walkway leads visitors to a glass-floor observation platform overlooking a 280m drop.
If you are not afraid of heights then you will love the views from the glass-floor observation platform. If you are like me, you may walk really fast along the walkway without looking down or decide to watch from afar. Either way, you will have magnificent views.
Tips for Visiting Jasper National Park in the Summer
What to Pack For Jasper National Park in the Summer
I was so confused when packing for this trip. I kept checking the temperatures and it showed 25+ during the day and a low of 5-10 in the early morning and evening. This doesn’t take into account if you will be hiking at any elevation. The best advice I received about packing for this trip was to dress in layers.
I like to get up early to enjoy the sunrise and let me tell you, it was very chilly. I am really glad that I packed a light packable coat for the early mornings and evenings.
For example, when we got to the top of Whistlers Mountain it was windy and chilly but once we began hiking we started to shed layers.
I would recommend packing hiking shoes, athletic gear, and various layers such as a warmer layer for the mornings and evenings. I basically lived in my Lole athletic wear and Columbia hiking shoes during our entire trip.
I would also pack a reusable water bottle, a day backpack, sunscreen, and a hat.
If you plan to enjoy any sunrises, sunsets, or hike near any body of water then pack an insect repellent. Mosquitos love me. Even constantly spraying I got several mosquito bites.
If you love photography like then pack your camera. If you have interchangeable lenses I would recommend a wide lens. I only had my Sony 24-70mm lens and although I got great shots, I wish I had a wider lens. If you use a Sony full-frame camera, I would recommend the 16-34mm lens to capture more of the scene. If you plan on taking photos of wildlife then bring a telephoto lens.
Wildlife Safety in Jasper National Park
There is various wildlife in Jasper National Park such as elk, moose, caribou, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, wolves, and bears. If you plan on hiking make sure to take safety precautions before you head out. You don’t want to be unprepared if you run into a black bear or grizzly bear on your hike.
Although I was very excited to see wildlife in their natural habitat, I did want to only see them from the safety of my car. There is a risk of bear encounters on hikes in Jasper National Park.
I would not recommend hiking alone. This makes you an easy target. Hike in pairs, it is actually recommended to hike in a group of 4 or more and make noise during your hike. The last thing you want to do is startle a bear. Talking loudly or playing music. I actually saw a lot of people had bells hanging from their backpacks.
If you see a bear cub, do not, I repeat…..do not walk towards it. The mama bear is not far behind and she will see you as a threat.
It is recommended to carry bear spray when out on a hike and learn how to use it. Ask your hotel front desk if they have bear spray you can borrow during your outings.
Parks Canada recommends that while on the trail, hikers should:
- Make noise
- Look for fresh bear sign
- Travel in groups
- Keep your dog on a leash
- Carry bear spray and know how to use it
- If you encounter a bear, give it LOTS of space
- Follow trail closures and warnings.
Bear spray can be rented at a nominal cost from many outdoor equipment stores in Jasper. To find out more about bear safety, please visit Parks Canada.
Elk can be very dangerous, so Parks Canada recommends staying at least 30 meters away from them. In the spring, females will fiercely protect their young, while in the fall, male elk will aggressively display their dominance.
Top Things to do in Jasper Conclusion
I absolutely loved my visit to Jasper National Park. Canada truly is beautiful and I can’t believe I waited this long to visit. There are so many more amazing things to do in Jasper National Park that four days is just a taste of what the Canadian Rockies have to offer. I would love to return during the winter time to experience the magic of Jasper covered in snow. There are so many trails that I would love to explore. I will definitely be returning to Jasper National Park. Have you visited? Are there things that I missed that I will have to experience during my return?
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