Best Things To Do in Jasper National Park
Year-round food and revelry bookend days of excitement and adventure in this massive park, which sits nestled in the Canadian Rockies. While the geographic attractions that draw visitors to Jasper National Park will always remain, how travelers can experience the park changes every season. During the summer, visitors can kayak around Maligne Lake or whitewater raft down the park's winding rivers. Meanwhile, winter ushers in a slew of cold-weather activities like snowshoeing near the Athabasca Glacier and skiing at Marmot Basin.
Updated March 26, 2019
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The second-largest glacier-fed lake in the world, Maligne Lake enchants travelers with its brilliant turquoise waters and stunning skylines. Anyone who wants to trek to Maligne Lake should take the time to visit the lake's Spirit Island as well, which is one of the most famous views of the Canadian Rockies in the world. The lake sits east of the Icefields Parkway in the southern portion of the park, and travelers can access the area with their own car, in an excursion bus or even as part of a motorcycle tour. (To book a motorcycle tour, check out the Jasper Motorcycle Tours website.) Once at the lake, visitors can take advantage of a variety of tours and excursions, or just explore the area independently.
Past visitors recommended bringing a camera to capture photos of the beautiful scenery – many note there are numerous photo opportunities. However, recent travelers also warned that both the cruise and nonmotorized watercraft rentals come at a steep price.
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In a little more than seven minutes, travelers can glide up nearly 7,500 feet to the side of The Whistlers mountain summit in Jasper National Park. After riding the longest and highest guided aerial tramway in Canada, those who make the trek will experience views of six mountain ranges, colorful rivers and lakes, and the town of Jasper. Each car on the Jasper SkyTram can accommodate 26 people, plus one flight attendant. Flight attendants are essentially tram tour guides, who can point out points of interest and answer any questions.
Past travelers suggested planning your trip on a clear, sunny day to make the most of the views. They also recommended wearing hiking shoes to complete the 1.5-mile hike to the peak of the mountain, where visitors can admire even more stunning panoramas.
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Rapidly receding, the Athabasca Glacier draws visitors from around the world. The glacier is part of the massive Columbia Icefield, which divides southern Jasper and northern Banff, and is easily visible from Icefields Parkway. Hiking trails and guided tours allow visitors to get near the edge of the glacier. While travelers can hike out onto the glacier, officials do not recommend making the trek because tourists have died due to hidden crevasses in the past.
If you do want to explore the glacier's surface, or are simply looking for an excellent tour, recent visitors suggested taking an Ice Explorer tour onto the Athabasca Glacier. Past travelers raved about the entertaining tour guides and the opportunities to safely explore the ice. Each trip last between two and three hours (including 20 minutes on the ice), and all excursions include access to the Glacier Skywalk.
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A narrow chasm located about 7 miles north of downtown Jasper, Maligne Canyon winds slightly less than a mile through Jasper National Park. The stunning canyon reaches a depth of more than 150 feet, while some sections are as narrow as 7 feet. In addition to the unique geological aspects of the area, the canyon is surprisingly green, with an immense amount of plant life.
Recent travelers appreciated the two hiking trails that weave through the area. The shorter loop crosses the canyon via four bridges, while the longer option traces the gorge and features two additional bridges along the way. Plus, the longer path is slightly less crowded. Past hikers also noted the parking lot at the trailhead can get crowded and suggest arriving early.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Jasper National ParkBeaches, Hiking, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Hiking, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Situated across the Athabasca River and just north of downtown Jasper, lakes Annette and Edith are great spots for a leisurely jaunt or a full-fledged adventure. Travelers can spend a day picnicking and grilling, relaxing in the park's signature red Adirondack chairs and hiking the various trails.
Recent travelers were surprised by the lakes' cerulean water. They recommended packing a camera for snapping photos along the area's primary hiking trail, the Annette Loop, which is paved and an excellent option for novice hikers.
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Athabasca Falls offers incredible views from an easily accessible location, adjacent to the Icefields Parkway and about 20 miles south of downtown Jasper. There is parking a short walk away from the falls, so this is an easy option for travelers searching for a stress-free excursion. While the water may not actually fall too far (about 75 feet) the falls are known for their torrential flow. Photographers particularly appreciate the falls for the array of viewing areas and surrounding trails.
Recent visitors described the Athabasca Falls as a must-see spot in Jasper National Park. They also note that you don't need to spend a full day here, but they suggest spending the time to view the falls from all of the available vantage points. Others recommended wearing sturdy shoes as the paths and stairs can often get slippery with all the spray from the falls. The falls are free to visit. For more information on the history of the falls, visit the Parks Canada website.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Jasper National ParkRecreation, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRecreation, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Rafting trips are a great way to see some of the more remote areas of Jasper National Park and they are excellent excursions for adrenaline junkies. Most of the rafting companies stick to the relatively calm Athabasca River, which runs through the southwest portion of the park and is a popular choice for families. The Athabasca River still boasts Class II rapids though, so travelers will still want to use the issued wetsuits to stay warm in inclement weather. For more of a challenge, adventurers should consider the Fraser or Sunwapta rivers, which include Class III rapids.
Past travelers almost universally leave glowing reviews of whitewater rafting in Jasper, particularly praising the opportunities to take in the beautiful scenery. They also generally appreciate the family-friendly nature of the rafting experience.
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Are you afraid of heights? If so, you'll probably want to skip the Glacier Skywalk. Everyone else should consider trekking out over the U-shaped walkway, which extends over the Sunwapta Valley. The architectural marvel allows travelers to safely venture out over the natural edge off of a 918-foot cliff, while the glass-floored walkway lets tourists take in a unique view of the area's natural setting.
Recent visitors generally praised the Glacier Skywalk for the novelty of its glass floor and the panoramas available from its observations platform. Still, many recent travelers said the views are not worth the steep price required to access the skywalk, especially because similar vantage points are available nearby. One perk of paying: Audio tours are available for no additional fee, and past tourists said they found them to be informational.
- #9View all Photos#9 in Jasper National ParkSkiingTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDSkiingTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Marmot Basin has transformed from a small cross-country skiing stopover in the 1920s to a full-blown mountain for skiers and snowboarders with 91 runs and seven chairlifts. Most of the runs are classified as either intermediate, advanced or expert, but 30 percent are suitable for novice skiers. The mountain also includes a small terrain park, as well as an expansive backcountry, for the most adventurous skiers. Additional on-site amenities include three eateries for after you've worked up an appetite, plus a store in case you need last-minute gear.
Past visitors appreciated the variety of runs, which appeal to skiers with different levels of experience. A number of them also suggest trying to find a discount to offset the pricey lift passes, as the mountain offers different deals based on the season and through its Marmot Escape Card program. The Marmot Escape Card costs a one-time fee of CA$79 and includes perks like half-price full-day lift tickets and 20 percent off youth tickets, as well as discounts on food, spa visits, accommodations and the Jasper SkyTram.
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As the hottest mineral springs in the Canadian Rockies, Miette Hot Springs provides an excellent alternative to the otherwise physically demanding things to do in Jasper National Park. Water flows from the mountain at a piping 129 degrees Fahrenheit before being cooled to the much more manageable range of 98 to 104 degrees. When you're not soaking, you can take a walk along the easy Source of Springs trail or challenge yourself with the roughly 5-mile Sulphur Skyline trail. Also on-site: a gift shop and the Fiddle Valley Café, which serves a variety of meal options.
Previous tourists praised the abundance of soaking pools and beautiful scenery. However, the changing rooms received mixed reviews in regards to their cleanliness.
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