In 2020 alone, Jasper National Park saw 1.6 million independent visitors and over 200,000 campers within its limits. The park is perfect for renting a nearby cabin to cozy up in or finding a spot to pitch your tent among the stars each night, so all you even have to think about is planning your perfect getaway.
If you don't know where to start, though, we're here to help. Read on for the perfect guide to help plan a trip to Jasper National Park.
No matter how long you plan on staying, you're going to find something to love in this expansive national park. It's the perfect place for a week of outdoor activities or a weekend shopping trip. There are also restaurants and resorts nearby when you don't feel like roughing it on the mountaintops.
The beauty of Jasper National Park is the sheer amount of options it has to offer each person that visits. It doesn't matter if you want to spend your days admiring from a balcony or a glacier — you can still have fun.
The park is known for its range of mountain peaks and its sweeping valleys. The highest peak is Mt. Columbia, sitting at almost 4,000 metres high, while the lowest valley is 985 metres above sea level, lying near the park's east gate.
These mountains are made up of different stones, though they're largely going to be sandstone, limestone, shale, or quartzite. The sandstone makes a pale grey colour on the front ranges, while the main ones are reddish/brown.
With the different terrain and abundance of freshwater features, you should keep an eye out for the park's wildlife during your adventures. You'll have the chance at catching a glimpse of caribou, elk, mountain goats, bears, and even wolves. (Make sure you check maps to find out where they roam!)
Getting to Jasper National Park
Jasper sees visitors from around the world, so transportation is pretty accessible. While a car is highly recommended for getting to the park, you can opt to take Via Rail from either Edmonton or Vancouver.
Jasper is located in the province of Alberta. If you're flying, you're likely to land at Edmonton International Airport (IEG) or Calgary International Airport (YYC).
There are three main modes of transportation: car, taxi, and shuttle.
All three are great ways to travel but remember that IEG is about 386 kilometres west of the park, and YYC is about 434 kilometres north, so ensuring you have enough for taxi fares is important.
Driving is going to be the easiest way to get to and around the park, and you can rent one in Downtown Jasper or from the airport as you fly in. To get there, you have two main options: Yellowhead Highway or Icefields Parkway.
The great thing? You don't need an international driving permit to drive in Canada.
Taxi options aren't limited in Jasper, and it's possible to even be picked up from remote locations inside the park. Wait times can be long, though, and fares can add up quickly.
Depending on where you're travelling from, shuttles are a great option. SunDog Tours offers a host of hiking and photography tours, while the Brewster Express offers transportation between Banff National Park and Jasper.
Things to Do in Jasper
Jasper is such a popular travel destination because there's so much to do. There are plenty of sights to see, and you can opt to see a lot of them on a tour, or you can take the self-guided route.
Here are a few of our favourites.
The Athabasca Glacier is the most popular glacier on the North American continent, and for good reason. It's part of the Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies.
Situated on top of a waterfall, you can walk on the glacier with the help of a tour guide (it can be dangerous without one, especially on the barriers). If you're not feeling as adventurous, you can sightsee from a distance or take a self-guided tour that takes you near the glacier, but not on to it.
The self-guided trail is free, and so is parking.
Maligne Canyon is the deepest in Jasper, dropping more than 50 metres at some points. The canyon's trail consists of six bridges to cross, with the first and second being the easiest and most accessible (the second bridge sits at the highest point) and the third offering waterfall views.
The entire trail is about 4.4 kilometres long and is fairly easy for hikers of all levels to trek if you have enough time. Admission to the canyon is also free (besides park entry), so you'll have plenty of access to photo opportunities if you want them!
Mount Edith Cavell
This mountain comes with a 3,300-metre peak and can be accessed by a narrow 14-kilometre road that brings you to its north face. You'll also be able to see the Cavell Meadows and Angel Glacier.
If you visit, make sure you stay on the designated paths. Vegetation grows slowly at this altitude, and any damage leaves a lasting effect.
Sitting at over 2,200 metres high, the Jasper SkyTram will take you on a guided 7-minute sweeping tour across Jasper National Park. You'll stop at the Upper Station, and be able to see mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, and downtown Jasper.
Reservations are required, so be sure to book in advance.
These falls are fed by the Athabasca Glacier and are about 49 kilometres apart (or a 35-minute drive).
There is an upper and lower part to the falls. The upper falls are easy to access from the viewpoint parking lot, but the lower falls are going to require a 1.3-kilometre hike through a lodgepole pine forest. The upper falls offer a view of the 18-metre dropoff, while the lower falls offer views of three falls spread across the Sunwapta River.
Jasper Hotels - Best Ones to Stay At
The unique thing about Jasper is the number of hotels close to the park. They're perfect for providing a balance between nature and comfort, and we're going to tell you about three of our favourites.
Pyramid Lake Resort
With five different room styles (including a loft), free breakfast, and enough activities to keep you entertained for an entire trip, you really can't go wrong with Pyramid Lake Resort.
Whether you're looking for ice skating, sleigh rides, or skiing, this resort has it all. The best part, though, is it's only a 13-minute drive from Jasper. You don't have to leave the resort, but you'll want to.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
This resort comes equipped with a spa, an 18-hole golf course, and paddleboat rentals. Each room is meant to feel like a cozy cabin getaway steps from unique walking trails or access to horseback riding!
At Chateau Jasper, you can book a studio, guest room, or suite and still stay on budget. This hotel is close to a lot of different activities, and it offers amenities like heated underground parking and free breakfast each morning.
If you're going to Jasper to enjoy the outdoors, then camping might be what you're looking for. You'll have easy access to trails and the chance to experience more wildlife. Some sites are requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test before entry, though, so be sure to check before you leave.
Best Campsites in Jasper
What campgrounds should you check out, though? Here's a rundown of three of our favourites.
Whistlers just underwent renovations, meaning wider roads, new restrooms and washrooms, and improved campsites complete with new picnic tables, firepits, and the same views visitors have always loved.
This campsite is also RV accessible, with water, sewer, and electrical systems.
During renovations, however, dead or dying trees were removed, meaning that campgrounds might not have as much cover as they once did (bring a canopy with you). There might also be spots where new grass is growing, so be sure to stay off when you can.
Wapiti is situated right across from Whistlers along the Athabasca River. There are over 360 sites available in the summer, but only 93 in the winter. No matter when you go, you'll have year-round access to hot showers, electricity, and fire pits.
This campground is also RV accessible and comes with electric, sewer, and water hookups like Whistlers' sites.
You'll need to load up on drinking water beforehand if you're camping in an RV, as the taps aren't accessible to large vehicles. Tenters can access freshwater taps outside the washroom and kitchen shelters at any time.
Wabasso also offers camping for tents and small RVs (less than 27-feet) and is advertised as a relatively quiet campground, tucked away along the Athabasca River. While the site has perfect access for day trips to busy spots like Moab Lake and Athabasca Falls, you can retreat to your campsite to enjoy the sounds of the river flowing peacefully next to you each night.
You'll also have access to heated bathrooms with lights, flushing toilets, and hot or cold running water. RVs also have access to sewage hookups.
The one thing to know about Wabasso: you're going to be on bear-inhabited land, so be sure to store away food and food-related items when they're not being used!
Best Time to Go Camping
The summer months of June through August are going to be the busiest, but they're also going to be the warmest. September through May are going to be cooler, but there's going to be a lot more camping availability — meaning great access to trails and other sights.
The best time for you ultimately depends on whether you'd rather stay warm or avoid all the crowds. For more information, and to stay up-to-date on camping information, you can visit this website.
Best Times to Visit Jasper National Park
The golden months to visit Jasper are March through May, and September through November. September is going to offer you the perks that come with summer, but with fewer crowds and more room to enjoy yourself.
If you don't mind crowds, though, June through August is going to offer the best conditions for water activities and warmer hikes and camping. Temperatures range from 7-degrees to 20-degrees Celsius during these months.
While March through May is going to be cooler — ranging from -12-degrees to 16-degrees Celsius — it's going to bring a nice range of lingering winter activities while you watch the park transform for summer and begin to warm.
Jasper National Park FAQs
After reading this guide, you might still have some lingering questions. Here are answers to a few of the most common ones.
These numbers are subject to change (check here before you go), but for 2021, a family or group of up to 7 people, you're going to pay $20. Individually, adults pay $10.50, seniors (over 64) pay $8.40, and youth (under 17) get in for free.
Both Jasper and Banff are popular national parks in Canada, and there are even shuttles offered between the parks. They're about 288 kilometres apart.
Plan Your Trip to Jasper Today!
Now that travel is a possibility again, you must be eager to get on the road. Jasper National Park is perfect for your first trip back, and we hope our guide can help you plan the perfect getaway among the mountaintops.
One thing you should never forget to pack, though, is travel insurance. Luckily, Insurdinary is here to help. Check out our website for a free quote today.