Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park is in the Alberta Rockies region of Alberta, Canada. It has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is the largest of Canada's Rocky Mountain Parks, spanning 10,878 square kilometres (4200 square miles) of broad valleys, rugged mountains, glaciers, forests, alpine meadows and wild rivers along the eastern slopes of the Rockies in western Alberta. There are more than 1200 kilometres (660 miles) of hiking trails (both overnight and day trips), and a number of spectacular mountain drives.
Comprising of delicate and carefully protected ecosystems, Jasper's scenery is non-the-less rugged and mountainous. In this special corner of Canada you can thrill to the thunder of Sunwapta Falls, enjoy the serene beauty of Mount Edith Cavell, connect with nature along 1,000-plus kilometres of trails, experience Athabasca Glacier up close or just resign yourself to a relaxing soak in Miette Hot Springs.
Highway 16 (Yellowhead) bisects the park east-west. Hinton is 69 kilometers and Edmonton is 350 kilometers to the east. Valemount is 110 kilometers to the west. The only other way into the park is from Lake Louise in the south via the Icefields Parkway.
The closest International Airports are in Edmonton (IATA: YEG), 350 kilometers east of the park and Calgary 350 km south of the park. Edmonton is generally a quicker drive but Calgary is a more scenic route and has more international connections.
All visitors stopping in the park (even just for gas) require a park permit. If you are driving through non-stop, the pass is not required. Day passes and annual passes are available.
All Canadian National Parks require visitors to pay an entry fee. Your citizenship or place of residence does not change what you pay; Canadian residents and international visitors pay the same fees. The national parks in Alberta and BC are fairly close to each other and it is possible to visit several of them in a single day. If you pay an entry fee in one mountain park (e.g. Banff National Park), and visit another on the same day (e.g. Yoho National Park), you will not have to pay a second time. Your paid entry fee is valid until 4PM the following day.
The fees that visitors pay do not go to general government revenues; they are used to enhance and maintain the parks and visitor services.
As of March 2014, the entry fees were as follows:
- $9.80 per day for an adult (aged 17-64)
- $8.30 per day for a senior (aged 65+)
- $4.90 per day for a youth (aged 6-16)
If you are entering the park as a group of 2-7 people travelling in a single vehicle, you can pay the group fee of $19.60 per day. (This is the same fee as paying for two adults.)
If you will be visiting Canadian National Parks for 7 days or more, you may save money by purchasing an annual Discovery Pass:
- $67.70 for an adult
- $57.90 for a senior
- $33.30 for a youth
- $136.40 for a family/group
A Discovery Pass also includes admission to national historic sites operated by Parks Canada, such as the Banff Park Museum, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Bar U Ranch, Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site, Fort Langley National Historic Site, and more. Note that Parks Canada does not operate all of Canada's national historic sites.
Additional variable fees are required for camping and backcountry exploration. See the official Parks Canada website for a complete current schedule.
A Park Pass is also required for anyone travelling the Icefields Parkway (#93) between Lake Louise and Jasper.
Car is the only way to really cover the distances involved, although you do see the odd intrepid cyclist. The only fuel stations in the park are in Jasper town.
The best way to see the area is by foot. Head a few hundred metres from a car park and you are in wilderness and does not take much longer to get away from the people.
- Whistler's Mountain (Just outside of Jasper). Take the Jasper Tramway half way up the mountain. From there it is a relatively short but very steep walk to the peak. On a clear day some superb views of the mountains ranges of the area and back into the valley below. May people get a false sense of security in the summer walking from the cable-car but be aware the weather can change quickly and you can find yourself in clouds or a small whirlwind.
- Maligne Lake. regular boat trips to see the wonder of a lake with water two different colours in different parts. Spirit Island, made famous by a photography competition, is in the middle of Maligne Lake. The only way to see the island is to take the boat cruise (1.5 hours round trip). Below the car park and gift shop area it can be crowded with visitors in the summer, just south past the buildings is a raised view point providing excellent view of the lake. A little walk along the the northern shore passed the boat house takes you to a trail with less people. Follows the lake shore for a while before heading inland and looping back to the car park. Provides chance to experience the local flora and fauna as well as see a glacial kettle.
- Maligne Canyon. Impressive deep cut canyon with waterfalls and interesting carved rock formations. Steep but good footpath along top of canyon, one side fenced other open. The river, up near Maligne Lake, flows in a mighty torrent. When it enters Medicine Lake (named in reference to bad medicine) it does so with great volumes. It does not, however, appear to flow out. Indeed, through the summer months Medicine Lake disappears until, in mid autumn all that is left is a thin channel that itself disappears into the shoreline. In Winter, walk on the canyon bottom to see masses of blue ice where waterfalls flow in the summertime!
- Medicine Lake (On the road to Maligne Lake). Not strictly speaking a lake but the point where water backups from the Maligne River before disappearing underground through sink holes. There is no river running out of the lake, the depth depending on the inflow rate from ice melt. Pull off at western end of the lake provides a spectacular view of the valley and hills.
- Beaver Lake (From Beaver Creek picnic area at the western end of Medicine Lake). A 1.5 km hike along a broad slightly climbing trail through bush and woodland brings you to a beautifully clear lake teaming with fish between the Colin and Queen Elizabeth Ranges. For the more intrepid continue along the Jaques Lake Trail South Boundary Trail. Be aware that although you will not see many people along this trail, there is a good chance of meeting bears.
- Athabasca Falls. An impressive waterfall. The Athabasca River thunders through a narrow gorge where the walls have been smoothed and potholes are created by the sheer force of the rushing water carrying sand and rock. Parking and toilet facilities. Paved trail and picnic sites available.
- Angel Glacier. Glacier on the north face of Mount Edith Cavell. Easy hike along Cavell Meadow trail from the car park to see some spectacular colours of ice and rock.
- Goat lick (Near Mount Kerkeslin view parking). Chance of seeing mountain goats at the side of the road
- Sunwapta Falls. Small waterfall but worth a brief visit. Only a short walk from the car park
- Tangle falls. Picturesque waterfall except is right on the side of the road.
- Columbia Icefield. One of the largest and most accessible glaciers in the Rockies.
- Miette Hot Springs, Miette Road, Jasper National Park, ☎ +1 780-866-3939. An place to relax after a day of hiking, the hottest mineral springs in the Rockies flow from the mountain at 54ºC. The water is cooled to a comfortable 40ºC as it enters the pools. Two hot pools and two cool pools, café, souvenir shop, a picnic ground and interpretive exhibits. Suits, towels and lockers for rent. Open May to mid-October. Located between Jasper and Hinton.
- The town of Jasper has a good selection of places to eat.
- There is a cafeteria at Columbia Icefield
- Maligne Lake. Basic cafeteria
- Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge (On the Icefields Parkway halfway between Jasper and the Columbia Icefield), ☎ +1 780-852-4852. Restaurant and cafeteria options.
For lodging right in Jasper, please see the Jasper article.
- HI-Maligne Canyon, Maligne Lake Rd (turn south off highway 16 just east of the townsite), ☎ +1 778 328-2220, toll-free: +1 866 762-4122. Check-in: 5PM-10PM, check-out: 10AM. Closed Wednesdays Oct-Apr, open all other times. This small, 24 bed hostel, is an excellent place to get away from things for a while. Though it lacks running water, you'll not miss anything else. There's a good sized kitchen, a supply of drinking water, and a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. $20-$26/person for HI members, $24-$30/person for non-members.
- HI-Mount Edith Cavell, Mt Edith Cavell Rd (26km south of Jasper townsite off highway 93A, 12km up Cavell Rd), ☎ +1 778 328-2220. Check-in: 5PM-10PM, check-out: 10AM. The 3,363-metre peak of Mt. Edith Cavell towers over this little wilderness hostel set in a narrow valley. An ideal base from which to explore Angel Glacier, Cavell Meadows or the Tonquin Valley. The views are amazing! There is no running water and no electricity. Full kitchen facilities with propane gas. Wood heating in the dorms, so in winter be prepared to stoke the fire 2 or 3 times a night. Toilets are outside. In summer (May to Oct) a manager lives on-site. The road closes in winter, ski-in only, a key can be picked up from HI-Jasper or HI-Lake Louise. $20-$26/person for HI members, $24-$30/person for non-members. Bookings recommended in summer months.
- HI-Athabasca Falls, Highway 93 (32km south of Jasper townsite, 1km south of Athabasca Waterfall), ☎ +1 778 328-2220. Check-in: 5PM-10PM, check-out: 10AM. Rustic hostel with no running water, there is power however. Boasting a fantastic large wood-paneled common room/kitchen with wood heater, this spacious hostel is ideal for groups. Located next to the powerful waterfalls of the same name. A great base for hikers: the Fryatt Valley, Geraldine Lakes, and Athabasca Pass are nearby. Chill out at the fire-pit any time of year. 'Cowboy' showers are available for those not willing to wash in the cold creek. Sleeping is in two dorms. Some private rooms are available. $20-$26/person for HI members, $24-$30/person for non-members. This place fills up quick, bookings recommended in summer months.
- HI-Beauty Creek, Highway 93 (75km south of Jasper townsite, 17km north of Columbia Icefields), toll-free: +1 866 762-4122. Check-in: 5PM-10PM, check-out: 10AM. This small rustic hostel is a favourite stop for cyclists between Jasper and Banff. Located adjacent the gentle waters of the Sunwapta River, the location is spectacular! Sleeping is in two dorms, nestled either side of the small kitchen and semi-outside common room. There is no running water and no electricity. Full kitchen facilities and refrigerator with propane gas. Toilets are outside. In summer (May to Oct) a manager lives on-site. Closed in winter. Expect snow any time of year here $20-$26/person for HI members, $24-$30/person for non-members. Bookings recommended in summer months..
- Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, 1 Old Lodge Road (Follow the signs on Highway 16. Turn left (if coming from the east) or right (if coming from the west) onto the black steel bridge over Athabasca River and follow the road), ☎ +1 780 852-3301. Full service hotel outside of Jasper Township. Has a world-class golf course on site, also a world-class restaurant. Expect to pay world-class prices.
- Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge (On the Icefields Parkway halfway between Jasper and the Columbia Icefield), ☎ +1 780-852-4852. Quality lodges, restaurant.
There are 10 designated camping sites throughout the park. There is an interactive map available online with information and fees. It is illegal to camp outside of designated areas without a special backcountry pass.
- Whistlers, 3.5km south of Jasper.
- Wapiti, 5.4km south of Jasper. This is the only campground open in winter.
- Wabasso, 16km south of Jasper.
- Pocahontas, 45km east of Jasper.
- Snaring River, 13km east of Jasper.
- Mount Kerkeslin, 36km south of Jasper.
- Honeymoon Lake, 52km south of Jasper.
- Jonas Creek, 78km south of Jasper.
- Columbia Icefield, 106km south of Jasper.
- Wilcox Creek, 107km south of Jasper.
|Routes through Jasper NP|
|END ←||N S||→ Lake Louise (in Banff NP) → Cranbrook|