Jasper National Park is an overwhelmingly beautiful natural wonder. It’s 11,000 square kilometres of scenic hiking trails, deep cerulean lakes, and towering mountain peaks. In addition, Jasper is also the world’s second largest dark sky preserve!
It experiences 365 days of unreal dark skies, to make even the most discerning of stargazers happy. Each and every year entire month of October is dedicated to celebrating Jasper’s dark skies. A few of the best spots to stargaze in the park include Maligne Lake, Old Fort Point, Pyramid Island, and even Athabasca Glacier. Not many people can say they spent a night under the stars on a glacier.
- Don’t forget to bring your camera! If you’re going to Jasper for some epic Dark Sky viewing, a Digital SLR camera is best. It’s recommended that you also bring a tripod.
- There are loads of campgrounds around the park. Feel free to camp in your RV or pitch a tent.
- Dress appropriately! The weather can change throughout the day so come prepared!
- Be aware of the wildlife. The park is teeming with bighorn sheep, black bears, mountain goats, deer and grizzlies.
- Rent a canoe or kayak and get lost on one of the many amazing lakes, or spend the day hiking through fields of wildflowers and have a picnic in an alpine meadow.
The Jasper SkyTram is a rad way to experience the enormity of the park, from the comfort of a seat! The flight is just seven minutes long, but you’re joined by flight attendants who know basically everything about the park and are happy to answer any questions you may have. You’ll get off at an elevation of over 2,200 meters and on a clear day, you can see all the way to Mount Robson.
You can’t visit Jasper National Park without going to the Athabasca Glacier. Considered “one of the six toes” of the Columbia Icefield, the glacier is actually disappearing. Every year nearly 5 metres of glacier recedes. So, what are you waiting for! We highly recommend only venturing out onto the glacier with a legitimate tour company, as there are many crevasses that tourists have fallen into over the years.
The Columbia Icefield is just one of those places you HAVE to go to at least once in your lifetime. First, you’ll board an all-terrain vehicle, the Ice Explorer, which will take you to the Athabasca Glacier. During this trip, your driver will teach you all about glaciers and how they shape the environment around them. Then once you arrive at the glacier you’ll have the opportunity to walk around and take loads of photos, to make all your friends jealous. At the end of the trip, you can experience the Glacier Skywalk. TIPS: Wear warm clothes and shoes with a good grip!
Can you handle walking on a glass-floor observation platform that’s 280 metres (918 feet) above Sunwapta Valley? If you say yes, then you’re in for the experience of a lifetime. The Glacier Skywalk is an awe-inspiring walk on the edge. Literally, the skywalk is located on a cliff-edge. And the view is out-of-this-world. You’ll be able to soak in the snow-capped peaks of surrounding mountains, lush waterfalls, wildlife, and glacial valleys of one of the world’s “most unique ecosystems.”
Once you see Maligne Lake in real life, you’ll understand why it’s such a special place. As the world’s second largest glacier-fed lake, it’s really something else. The waters themselves are renowned for their azure hue, which though actually super cold, are perfect for canoeing and boat tours. TIP: Definitely plan to hit up Spirit Island. There are also some great hiking opportunities at Bald and Opal Hills, or you could undertake the 44km-long Skyline Trail, which takes you from Maligne Lake all the way to the charming, mountain town of Jasper.
The Athabasca River is home to tons of absolutely gorgeous natural wonders, and Athabasca Falls is one of the crown jewels of Jasper National Park. It’s close to the town of Jasper, and just a little way from the Icefields Parkway. The falls may not be the tallest waterfall around, but they are the most powerful! Tons of water gushes into a limestone gorge that looks like it belongs in Lord of the Rings. There are viewing platforms from where you can safely gawk and take pictures, as well as a parking lot that’s pretty close to the falls. If you’re feeling adventurous you could even go white water rafting down the river.
At the confluence of the Astoria River and Athabasca River valleys is Mount Edith Cavell. Named after an English nurse who was executed by the Germans in WWI for aiding in the rescue of Allied soldiers, the mountain offers a beautiful view of the park. Just park at the lot on Mount Edith Cavell Road and take the short hike to Cavell Meadows. Here you can enjoy the Angel Glacier, which hangs over the north face of the mountain. There’s also a hostel near the mountain.
A trip to Jasper National Park just isn’t complete without a soak in Miette Hot Springs. Prepare to experience the “hottest mineral springs in the Canadian Rockies.” There are three spring outlets which pour over 1500 litres a minute of high mineral concentrations. There’s also a cafe onsite, the Fiddle Valley Cafe, in case you want some nibbles.
When you’re ready to call it a day head to the Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge just south of downtown Jasper. Just off the Icefields Parkway, and located right in the park, this is the perfect headquarters for your Rocky Mountain adventure. The staff here will even help you to book activities, and figure out where to go and when. Be sure to ask them for some insider tips! The rooms are cabin style and very comfortable, but be aware that internet is very spotty here, and they warn guests that they aren’t able to offer high-speed access. So, no Netflix and chill, I’m afraid.
Another option for lodging is the Tekarra Lodge, also located literally in the middle of the park. Here you can enjoy a cozy cabin, with your own kitchen and fireplace. Expect to see plenty of wildlife from your window. There’s also a restaurant on site which has been visited by celebrities like John Travolta and Miss Marilyn Monroe herself!