Travel Guide to Jasper National Park

Updated on Apr 30, 2024 | Canada Visa Online

Jasper is the largest park in the Canadian Rockies, and it has a variety of wildlife, wild views, and adventures to prove it. Glacier walks and mountain hikes, scenic cruises, and epic road trips are all available there.

Elk still roam through the streets of Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, while bears are frequently seen along the highway — and the people prefer it that way. In this community, many prefer cabins over condos and think that the 5 million stars in the night sky are more impressive than the 5-star ratings.

Alberta, Canada's Alberta Rockies region is home to Jasper National Park. UNESCO has designated it as a World Heritage Site. The park, located on the eastern slopes of the Rockies in western Alberta, is the largest of Canada's Rocky Mountain Parks, comprising 10,878 km (4200 square miles) of wide valleys, craggy mountains, glaciers, forests, alpine meadows, and wild rivers. There are numerous breathtaking mountain drives, as well as more than 1200 km (660 miles) of hiking paths (both overnight and day trips).

Despite being made up of delicate ecosystems that are carefully guarded, Jasper's landscape is rocky and mountainous. In this unique region of Canada, you can experience the thunder of Sunwapta Falls, the quiet beauty of Mount Edith Cavell, more than 1,000 km of hiking routes, up-close encounters with the Athabasca Glacier, or a tranquil dip in Miette Hot Springs.

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How to Reach?

The park is divided east-west by Highway 16 (also known as Yellowhead Highway). Edmonton is 350 miles (220 km) to the east of Hinton, which is 69 km (43 mi) away. 110 kilometers (68 mi) to the west is Valemount. The only alternative entrance to the park is via the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise in the south.

The park's southern entrance is at 1 Sunwapta Pass, next to the Columbia Icefield and slightly north of Banff National Park, and the park's eastern entrance is 20 minutes to the southwest of Hinton. Within the park is the community of Jasper. At 3 Yellowhead Pass, the other park entrance is located to the west.

Via Rail 

There are numerous commercial rail services between Vancouver and Edmonton. Additionally, a private tourist railway called the Rocky Mountaineer travels between Jasper and Calgary. Jasper and Banff cannot be reached by train on a direct route.

Via plane

The closest international airports are located in Edmonton (YEG IATA), which is located 350 kilometers (220 miles) east of the park and 430 kilometers (270 kilometers) from Jasper townsite, and Calgary (YYC IATA), which is located 350 kilometers (220 miles) southeast of the park. Although Calgary is a more scenic route and has more international connections, Edmonton is typically a quicker trip.

Permits and fees

A park permit is required for all visitors stopping in the park, even merely to get gas. The pass is not necessary if you are driving continuously through. There are day passes and yearly passes available.

Entrance fees are required for all national parks in Canada. Both domestic and foreign tourists must pay the same fees.

Given their proximity to one another, Alberta and British Columbia's national parks can all be visited in a single day. You won't have to pay again if you visit one mountain park (such as Yoho National Park) on the same day that you pay an entrance fee at another (such as Banff National Park). The entrance fee you have paid is valid until 4 PM the following day.

Visitors' fees are used to improve and maintain the parks and visitor services, not to fund general government operations.

The entry costs for 2022 are:

  • $10.50 for an adult each day (aged 17-64)
  • $9.00 daily for seniors (65 and older)
  • Free for youth and children (aged 0-16)

You can pay the group entrance charge of $21.00 per day if you are entering the park in a single vehicle with 2 – 7 other persons. (This cost equates to two adults' admission.)

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Hotel Fairmont Jasper Park

Jasper, Alberta, T0E 1E0, Canada, 1 Old Lodge Road

The iconic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge may have been North America's first "glamping" destination when it first opened in 1915 as Tent City, a collection of opulent canvas tents along Lac Beauvert with views of Whistler's Peak and Pyramid Mountain. 

The location quickly gained popularity, and in 1922 the main lodge and several opulent log cabins were built on 700 acres in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Jasper National Park.

The property is covered in Douglas fir and pine trees, and elk herds can be seen munching on the grass and dashing through the trees, as well as the occasional bear. The 442 lodging options include intimate nooks in the main building, Junior Suites with fireplaces, and Signature Cabins for the whole family, all of which have views of the lake or the forest and mountains and were completely restored between 2015 and 2017. The recently added Estate Cabins have a private gated entry for a more domestic feel and are close to the golf course. The rooms and suites are clean-lined and furnished with crisp white linen and light wood accents, while the cabins feature traditional lodge interior design with wood beams and a combination of earthy and granite tones.

Play a few rounds of golf on the 18-hole course created by Stanley Thompson, which is consistently rated as one of Canada's best, go for a stroll through the countryside or a trip up a mountain, or rest in one of the spa's 10 rooms, which includes a sauna, steam room, and panoramic relaxation area. Thanks to collaborations with nearby farms, the restaurants highlight regional tastes and seasonal local produce. Don't miss a sunset cocktail at The Emerald Lounge & Patio, which looks out over the lake, Whistler's Range, and the east face of Mount Edith Cavell. The Lodge is a well-liked location for destination weddings due to the picturesque vistas and family-friendly lodging.

Canada's Angel Glacier

Jasper, Alberta, T0E 1E0

The gem of Jasper National Forest, Mount Edith Cavell's north face's Angel Glacier is a vanishing glacier remnant. (The glacier's name alludes to its ice's white "wings"). If you go to the bottom, you'll find Cavell Pond, a tiny, jade-colored glacial pool where icebergs bob serenely in the water while keeping quiet about the events they've seen over thousands of years.

 The walk from the parking lot is extremely interesting because it follows a paved trail through a lunar, rocky moraine. Given the speed at which the world's glaciers are melting, this is an experience to be cherished because there might not be an angel to view anytime soon.

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Wilcox Pass

Icefields Parkway

My favorite day walk in the Canadian Rockies is now Wilcox Pass, despite being driven away by blustery winds and an approaching storm. 

This eight-kilometer track begins just north of the boundary of Banff National Park and meanders through the forest before swiftly rising above the tree line to provide some magnificent views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers.

Jasper Brewing Company

624 Connaught Dr, Jasper, AB T0E 1E0, Canada

The Jasper Brewing Company, which debuted in 2005, was the country's first brewery inside a national park. It is now a frequented hangout for locals. 

Make sure you order a brewery tour in addition to a fresh pint because seven different beers, including the Rockhopper IPA and Honey Bear Ale, are produced on the premises. The meal menu features standard pub fare with a unique twist to enhance the flavors of the beer. The brewpub, which is split into a restaurant and a pub and is open every day from 11:30 am to 1:00 am, is also kid-friendly. Beer starts at $5.50.

Icefields Parkway

AB-93, Alberta, Canada

Icefields Parkway

The Icefield Parkway is more than just an Albertan road that connects Lake Louise and Jasper. A 230-kilometer drive takes you into the Canadian Rockies, past a number of emerald-green alpine lakes that are nourished by adjacent glaciers. 

The entire route passes through the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and links the national parks of Jasper and Banff. Athabasca Falls is the first must-see sight as you travel south from Jasper. Following that, a series of views, including the Endless Chain, Sunwapta Falls, Athabasca Glacier, Waterfowl Lake, and Bow Summit, appear one after the other. However, that is not Icefield’s only most spectacular feature; there are countless other beautiful sights. The journey may continue for several days or as little as three hours. 

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Jasper Dark Sky Preserve

Jasper, AB T0E 1E0, Canada

Jasper Dark Sky Preserve

At night, the sky above Jasper National Park comes to life. The national park is one of the top locations in the world for stargazing and is recognized as a Dark Sky Preserve. 

The vast amount of iridescent light that is prevalent in populous regions is what causes light pollution, which is that orange color that is frequently visible over cities. Only 5,000 people live in Jasper, which occupies an area of 10,000 square kilometers and is practically free of light pollution. As a result, the sky is darker — the region around Columbia Icefield is among the darkest in North America — making it possible to see more stars in full clarity than almost anywhere else. 

The greatest time to learn about the stars is during Jasper's annual Black Sky Festival, which takes place at the end of October, even though it is optimal to view the dark skies in fall and winter, from September to March. What's best? It is totally free.

Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre

AB-93, Jasper, AB T1L 1J3, Canada

The Glacier Skywalk, one of several elements at the Glacier Discovery Center, opened earlier this year as the newest attraction in Jasper National Park.

 Take a short bus journey to the Skywalk after parking at the center. The surrounding environment is described in a free audio tour, which is a great addition to the stroll by the wildlife displays on the approach to the platform. Take a step out onto the 1.5-inch thick glass that hovers above the Sunwapta Valley below once you have at last arrived at the engineering marvel, which is being built with much anticipation. The Athabasca Glacier can be seen when looking down the valley, though you'll need to move down the road to get a decent view of the entire thing.

You can see waterfalls, an unending supply of trees, and perhaps even one or two mountain goats from the Skywalk. Early morning visits offer fewer crowds and more freedom to thoroughly explore the Skywalk. What makes the attraction the best? Even if you are too afraid to extend yourself very far on the glass, the view is still breathtaking. 

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Whistler's Mountain

Halfway up the mountain, use the Jasper Tramway. From there, it is only a short but extremely arduous hike to the peak. 

On a clear day, there are some fantastic views of the local mountain ranges and down into the valley. Walking from the cable car in the summer can give some people a false sense of security, but you should be aware that the weather can change suddenly, and you might find yourself in the clouds or in a small whirlwind. 

Maligne Lake

The magnificence of a lake with water that is two different colors in various areas can be seen on many boat rides. 

Maligne Lake's Spirit Island, which became well-known due to a photography contest, is located in the center. Taking a boat excursion is the only way to visit the island (1.5 hours round trip).

In the summer, it can be congested with people below the parking lot and gift shop area. To the south, past the buildings, there is an elevated viewpoint offering a beautiful view of the lake. A trail with fewer people can be reached by taking a short stroll down the northern shore beyond the boat building. It initially travels along the lake's edge before turning inland and making a loopback to the parking area. 

It offers an opportunity to view a glacial kettle and get a glimpse of the local flora and animals. 

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 Maligne Canyon

Get ready to witness a stunningly deep canyon with waterfalls and unique rock formations. 

The footpath that runs along the top of the canyon is steep but good, with one side being walled and the other being open. The river is flowing in a powerful torrent upstream from Maligne Lake. It flows heavily into Medicine Lake, which was given that name as a pun on terrible medicine. But it does not seem to trickle out. In fact, over the summer, Medicine Lake vanishes until, in the middle of the fall, all that is left is a tiny canal, which then vanishes into the beach.

Where waterfalls flow in the summer, you may stroll on the canyon floor in the winter to witness piles of blue ice! Maligne Canyon.

Medicine Lake 

On the road to Maligne Lake

 Although not technically a lake, this area is where water backs up from the Maligne River before sinking into the ground through sinkholes. There is no river that empties into the lake; the depth is determined by the rate of ice melt influx. A pull-off at the lake's western edge offers a breathtaking vista of the valley and hills. 

Five Beaver Lake 

Five Beaver Lake

You can reach a gorgeously clean lake teeming with fish after a 1.5-km stroll over a broad, slightly ascending track through shrub and woodland between the Colin and Queen Elizabeth Ranges. The Jacques Lake Trail South of Boundary Trail can be continued by those who are more daring. Although there won't be many people on this trail, there's a good chance you'll run into bears.

The hottest mineral springs in the Rockies pour from the mountain at 54 C, making them a great spot to unwind after a long day of climbing. As it enters the pools, the water is cooled to a comfortable 40 C.

Two hot pools, two cold pools, a café, a gift store, a picnic area, and informative displays are all present. Towels, suits, and lockers can all be rented. Between Jasper and Hinton, it is open from May until mid-October.

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