Jasper NP is a treasure trove for any and all nature lovers, hikers, bikers or anyone who simply wants to detox and feel inspired by nature in all its glory. Jasper National Park covers 11,000 square kilometers, or over 4,200 square miles. Within the park are many amazing natural formations, lakes, falls, and almost endless hiking options. The amount of wildlife roaming everywhere is pretty amazing and spotting mountain goats, elk, deer, eagles, hawks, and the occasional wolf or a bear is a breeze.
How much park you want to cover of course depends on how much time and money you are willing and able to invest into your trip.
For a weekend getaway, stick to the highlights or the BEST OF the park, which are close to the town of Jasper and easily accessible.
THE BEST OF JASPER
Easily accessible, it is next to a busy road, with a large parking lot, paved sidewalks, and large viewing areas. This is an extremely popular tourist destination, so either come in early or a bit late – during the day the parking gets a bit trickier and picture taking can be a bit of a hassle.
Really beautiful waterfalls that are also easily accessible via car.
Incredibly photogenic and probably one of the most Instagramable locations within the park (other than Spirit Island, of course). They are also pretty easy to reach with car.
PATRICIA LAKE & PYRAMID LAKE
One of the most stunning lakes I have ever seen. Especially on a calm and sunny day, when the water is like a glass and the water’s hues are from deep sea green to bright turquoise blue.
THE TOWN OF JASPER
The town is very mellow and relaxing, with plenty of parking, cute local stores, unique gift shops, cafes, and restaurants. In my opinion it’s much better laid out than Banff, also not as pricey, even though it’s similarly popular by locals and tourist from all over the globe.
PAPA GEORGE’S RESTAURANT
Serves good meals, delicious treats, and wonderful hot tea and coffee in a delightfully mellow atmosphere.
Try their delicious breakfast special , Eggs Benedict, colorful griddle or come here for late lunch after a day of hiking and sample their amazing Canadian special Poutine (a cheesy deliciousness comprised of golden french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. YUM!!).
Website: Papa George’s Restaurant
LONGER STAYS AND HIGHER BUDGET
If you are staying in or around Jasper longer and your budget is adjusted for spending a bit more:
MALIGNE LAKE & SPIRIT ISLAND
Spirit Island is only accessible by boat. You can reach it by yourself with your rented kayak or canoe. For a less strenuous and a bit more comfortable option, there are boat tours to take you there. The boat trip takes between 1 to 2 hours and prices start at $70 per person. You can also buy a dinner cruise or a cruise/gondola package. The possibilities are really just up to your budget.
JASPER SKYTRAM (GONDOLA)
I haven’t been to either the Banff or the Jasper gondola and the reason it’s their pricing. I am used to European (especially Austrian) pricing, where you can ride gondola to the top of a mountain for a very reasonable price – something like $20 per person. It’s usually even cheaper for seniors and most times the gondola ticket is included in their “tourist package”, where you purchase the tourist public transportation ticket for a week and get all sorts of neat perks included with it.
Yes, I know, Canada is not Europe, but to me the value of $55 or more per person for a 10 to 15 minute ride is just not there.
You can also take the ‘slow way up’ and hike the mountain on your time and dime.
Of course, the views from a tall mountain are usually incredibly breathtaking, especially on a clear and sunny day.
COLUMBIA ICEFIELDS DISCOVERY CENTRE
This is a perfect starting point for all your glacier and icefield adventures. They give you all the information you need to hike alone or go on a once in a lifetime glacier tour. There is a museum, a shop, and a café as well.
It is quite the drive – from the town of Jasper it’s roughly 105 kilometers (or about 65 miles) one way, so plan accordingly. I would recommend to plan a whole day around this trip and to start early for less traffic and the amount of tourists.
COLUMBIA ICE FIELD SKYWALK
Reminiscent of the Grand Canyon West Rim skywalk, to me it’s just an overpriced tourist trap. The pricing is $30 CAD per person. There are plenty of breathtaking views along the Icefield Parkway road without the necessity to spend the extra money.
Where to stay
We planned our Jasper weekend getaway like we plan most of our trips – sort of spur of the moment when we knew the weather was going to be beautiful that weekend and off we went. Of course, this type of travel is really silly for the high summer season month of August, but we went anyways.
And, of course there was no availability anywhere within the park, so we opted to stay in the closest town outside of Jasper NP, in the town of Hinton. There are quite a few lodging options within the town, most of them budget hotels like EconoLodge, Ramada, or Best Western.
There are, of course, numerous hotels and cabins within the park itself. Research and book early for best deals and the best availability.
I fell in love with this property. It sits at the edge of the park and its absolutely enchanting. The log cabins are well equipped with everything you want and need for a comfortable stay and some come with extra amenities like a kitchen, living room with fireplace, jacuzzi, etc. I was definitely super sad that there was no availability when we arrived, but it was our fault for not researching ahead.
Website: Pocahontas Cabins
Of course, there are plenty of hotels, campgrounds, and lodges in and around the town of Jasper, with a perfect location as a starting point to all your park adventures.
I also liked touring Becker’s Chalets, which are spacious wooden log cabins that are comfy and cozy with lots of amenities, like a kitchenette, and a fireplace.
Website: Becker’s Chalets
Have you been to Jasper and if yes, what was your experience? Let me know below in the comments.
Wish you safe and epic travels!