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Are you planning a trip to Jasper National Park? I’ve got you covered with everything you’ll need to know to enjoy your time exploring the unique, natural beauty of this park.
Extending over 11.000 square kilometers, it’s the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and part of UNESCO’s Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. Jasper National Park is an incredible wilderness area in Alberta and a true paradise for anyone who loves spending time outdoors.
This guide is perfect for any first time visitors to Jasper National Park and will carry all of the information you’ll need to make your trip absolutely unforgettable. I’ll list my favorite hikes, the most beautiful lakes and the top activities to do in Jasper National Park.
Planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies can sometimes feel a little bit overwhelming but thanks to this article you’ll have all of the information that you’ll need at your fingertips.
10 Best Things To See And Do In Jasper National Park (Hikes, Photo Spots And More!)
Jasper National Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Canada and the small town of Jasper serves as the perfect base to venture from.
Jasper is a small town with only 5000 inhabitants and if it wasn’t for its excellent locations no one would have probably ever heard of it. But it was definitely one of my favorite places in the Canadian Rockies. During the day we could go on little or big adventures and in the evening we would wander the small streets, browse the shops and drink a beer on one of the many terraces.
There are honestly so many incredible things to do in Jasper National Park! You can rent a canoe and paddle on one of the many lakes or simply drive the Icefields Parkway, the quintessential road in Canada that will blow you away with its beauty!
So if you’re wondering what you can do in Jasper National Park, I’ve got you covered!
Where is Jasper National Park
Before reading about what to do in Jasper, let’s review where exactly it is. Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian province of Alberta in the southwest of the country.
And Jasper town is the gateway and starting point for all adventures in Jasper National Park and finds itself in the middle of two highway intersections.
On one end there’s the Yellowhead Highway which will take you across the country and leads to Mount Robson Provincial Park.
On the other end there’s the Icefields Parkway, the most beautiful road in Canada that leads from Banff to Jasper. The town of Jasper will either be your first or last stop on this must drive road, together with a lot of other incredible sights where you can stop. Often these sights are simply alongside the highway or only a very short hike away.
The townsite of Jasper sits in the Athabasca River Valley, pretty much on the border of British Columbia.
The closest large cities, Edmonton and Calgary, are 365 kilometers and 413 kilometers away, respectively.
Getting to Jasper
There are several ways to get to Jasper since it’s one of the top tourist destinations in the Canadian Rockies.
But because of its location you can be sure of one thing: it takes time to get to Jasper!
The most common way to travel to Jasper is to pick up a rental car at either Calgary or Edmonton and then go from there.
If you’re coming from Edmonton you can pretty much reach Jasper on one day without missing much. If Calgary is your starting point you will also drive through Banff National Park and the Icefields Parkway and you should definitely calculate in a couple of days to see the most beautiful places in Banff as well!
Another option is to rent a camper from Outdoorsy! This is what we did and we went with a van from Karma Campervans and they do have a depot in Calgary.
Best things to do in Jasper National Park
To visit Jasper National Park you need one very essential item and that is a Discovery Pass. This annual pass will give you access to all of the National Parks in Canada. I bought mine online a couple of weeks before our trip to Canada and it arrived by mail. You simply need to put it around your rearview mirror in the car and you’re good to go!
1. Admire the Tangle Creek Falls
The Tangle Creek Falls are a fun and quick stop along the Icefields Parkway on your way to Jasper. But this waterfall is also easy to miss. The parking lot across the road is pretty small but it’s definitely worth the stop cause the waterfall itself is located right next to the main road.
Tangle Creek Falls is 96 km south of Jasper along the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93.) The waterfall is so close to the road, that the car park has to be on the opposite side of the road. Just make sure you are very careful when you cross the highway. There is a bend just before the tangle creek, so speeding cars won’t be able to see you.
Tangle Creek Falls is a pretty impressive multi-tiered waterfall and has a 35 m drop split between multiple layers.
While you’re there, don’t forget to stop and stare in the opposite direction, as the views of the Stutfield Glacier are also fantastic.
2. Hike to the Sunwapta Falls
The Sunwapta Falls along the Icefields Parkway was one of my favorite stops on this scenic road. The Sunwapta Falls consists of upper and lower waterfalls that are fed by the Athabasca Glacier.
The Sunwapta Falls can be easily reached by taking an access road right of the Icefields Parkway. There’s a pretty big parking lot at the start of the trail head and the Sunwapta Falls consist of two waterfalls.
The upper waterfall is the easiest to access and there’s a bridge from where you can take some lovely photos.
We also hiked down to the lower falls and highly recommend it if you want a more quiet experience.
The waterfalls are at their most impressive in late Spring due to the massive ice melt-off that occurs.
But no matter which time you visit this place is absolutely stunning!
3. Wander around the Athabasca Falls
A great thing to do in Jasper pretty much every season is to check out the stunning Athabasca Falls. During spring the water will be raging but during the winter you’ll find a beautiful winter wonderland.
The Athabasca Falls are also conveniently located in Jasper National Park and there’s a pretty huge parking lot that goes with it.
There are several viewing platforms to admire the waterfalls from and to take in the river in all its glory.
4. Hike through the Valley of the Five Lakes
One of the most beautiful and rewarding hikes in Jasper National Park is the Valley of the Five Lakes hiking trail. This easy hike will take you along 5 pristine lakes, one even more beautiful than the other and can be enjoyed by the entire family.
It’s a very popular hike in Jasper National park and the parking lot is located right next to the Icefields Parkway. It’s not the biggest parking lot so I do advise you to arrive at 9am the latest to make sure you can grab a spot!
Location – Jasper National Park
Distance – 4.7km
Elevation – 162 meters
Season – June to October
Difficulty – Easy
Duration – 1.5 hours
Driving time from Jasper – 10 minutes
5. Enjoy Maligne Lake
Maligne Lake is la glacial lake ocated in Jasper National Park and about 75 minutes driving from the town of Jasper itself.
From Jasper you need to take the scenic 48km long Maligne Lake Road which will take you straight to the lake.
Maligne Lake is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Jasper National park and is a beautiful sight during any season.
It’s well worth a visit for anyone visiting the Canadian Rockies and is a must-stop if you’re in Jasper for a few days.
6. Canoe to Spirit Island
Canoeing to Spirit Island on Maligne Lake is one of the best things to do in Jasper National Park. We started our adventure way before sunrise and it was one of my favorite travel moments ever!
The distance to Spirit Island is 14km one way and will take about 3.5 hours of canoeing to reach it.
There are several rental companies in Jasper but I highly recommend Pure Outdoors! Their shop is located in Jasper and they will transport your canoe to Maligne Lake for you. I called them the day before we needed the canoe and they still had one left!
I wrote a de tailed guide dedicated to this adventure that has all of the information you’ll need!
7. Catch the sunrise at Pyramid Lake
One of the best things to do in Jasper National Park is watch the sunrise over Pyramid Lake. It was one of my favorite mornings during our 2 week road trip through the Canadian Rockies.
The mist was rising up from the lake and the sun was hitting Pyamid mountain in the back.
There are several viewpoints around Pyramid Lake but my favorite was definitely from the wooden bridge going to Pyramid Island. There’s a small parking lot a few meters away but if you’re visiting for sunrise you won’t have any problem finding a spot.
8. Hike the Sulphur Skyline Trail
This is one of my favorite hiking trails in the Canadian Rockies cause it’s not every day that you can get 360° views with only hiking up that amount of elevation. And do you want to know the best part? After completing this hike you can take a dip in a hot spring!
Yes, you read that right! The trailhead for the Sulphur Skyline Trail is located at the parking lot for the famous Miette Hot Springs.
I really enjoyed this hike cause the elevation goes gradually and at the very end there’s a bit of a steep climb. But by then you are already above the tree line and you can enjoy the incredible views while hiking up.
I advise you to start this hike early in the day cause it’s a very popular trail. We even saw an entire school class making their way up while we were already heading back down.
Location – Jasper National Park
Distance – 7.9km
Elevation – 653 meters
Season – June to October
Difficulty – Moderate
Duration – 3.5 hours
Driving time from Jasper – 40 minutes
9. Grab a beer at Jasper Brewing Company
There’s nothing more fun than simply relaxing after a long day of exploring and adventuring. What I loved the most about the town of Jasper is how small it actually is. There are a couple of streets and the main street next to the train station is pretty much lined with bars.
One of our favorites was the Jasper Brewing Company because of the amount of sunshine it got during the day and their fine beer selection!
10. Hike through Maligne Canyon
Another popular and easy hiking trail in Jasper National Park is the Maligne Canyon Trail.
Maligne Canyon is the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park, with a depth of more than 50 meters at certain points. You can explore this incredible landmark by crossing 6 bridges built across various points of the canyon.
There are several parking lots from where you can start this loop. We started at the fifth bridge which was pretty cool cause that way we saved the best for last! At bridge number 3 you’ll find an impressive waterfall and towards bridge number 2 and 1 the canyon is at its deepest.
Location – Maligne Road
Distance – 3.7km
Elevation – 131 meters
Season – June to October
Difficulty – Easy
Duration – 1.5 hours
Driving time from Jasper – 15 minutes
The best time to visit Jasper National Park
I absolutely loved visiting Jasper National Park during late spring at the end of June. High season didn’t fully start up yet so places weren’t too crowded. The only downside to this is that some hikes may not yet be accessible.
When we visited the Canadian Rockies had suffered a very cold and rainy spring season which meant a lot of hikes were still closed off.
I would avoid July and August since it would be incredibly busy and you will have to book everything weeks in advance.
If June doesn’t work for you I would opt for September. The temperature will be a little more chilly but all of the snow will be gone and so will a lot of tourists.
Where to stay in Jasper National Park
The best place to base yourself when visiting Jasper National Park is the town of Jasper. below you’ll find my top picks for both hotels and campsites.
🏕 The best campsites in Jasper National Park
- Wapiti Camping: A very large campsite that is more open and has a view over the mountains. Checkin starts from 2pm and definitely ask if they have a spot that’s close to the showers otherwise you’ll have to walk pretty far to reach them.
- Snaring River Campground: A more secluded campsite without showers and only a primitive toilet. Located on the banks of the Snaring River and only 10 minutes driving from Jasper.
🏨 The best hotels in Jasper National Park
- Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge – “The Jasper Park Lodge is a beautiful resort surrounded by exceptional views of the majestic Rocky Mountains.
- Overlander Mountain Lodge – The Overlander lodge offers a spectacular location just outside of Jasper.
Charlotte Lint is the founder of Charlies Wanderings.
Charlotte has traveled all over the world and is based in Belgium where she also owns her very own dental practice.
She is an expert on writing efficient travel guides and finding unique places to stay.
Every month she helps over 134.000 people discover the most beautiful places in the world through her detailed travel guides.