If you’re keen on planning the ultimate Canada itinerary, enjoying all the best things to do in Jasper might prove to be one of the highlights of your trip.
Located in the Canadian Rockies in the province of Alberta, the small town of Jasper is famous as the base for exploring Jasper National Park, one of Canada’s most spellbinding natural destinations.
The top tourist attractions in Jasper National Park encompass everything from hiking trails piercing through the Canadian Rockies to some of Canada’s best wildlife-viewing including bighorn sheep, elk, and bears.
A little perplexed at what to do in Jasper National Park? Plan out your trip to this Rocky Mountain paradise with this guide to the best places to visit in Jasper, Canada…
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Top tourist attractions in Jasper
Jasper National Park
Jasper Town wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Jasper National Park. Sprawling out over 11,000 square kilometres, Jasper National Park is the biggest park in the Canadian Rockies.
Along with Banff, Yolo, Kootenay, and three Alberta provincial parks, Jasper National Park is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks.
Like its Albertan park brethren, Jasper National Park is world-renowned for its dense wilderness, precipitous mountain peaks, and breathtaking natural scenery.
While the outdoor activities here seem nearly endless, one of the most unique & best things to do in Jasper National Park is hopping on a wildlife-viewing tour. Plying through the park, you’ll encounter animals big & small including moose, bighorn sheep, bears, deer, elk, mountain goats, and wolves.
As some of these animals (like grizzly bears and wolves) can be dangerous in the wild, the safest way to experience the wildlife of Jasper is on a guided tour.
The second-largest lake in the Canadian Rockies, Maligne Lake is one of the absolute must-see sights in Jasper National Park and a highlight of any Western Canada road trip.
Like Lake Louise and Moraine Lake further south in Alberta, Maligne Lake offers up one of Canada’s most iconic outdoor scenes. In particular, the shimming azure waters set to the towering pines of Spirit Island with the Canadian Rockies as the backdrop adorns countless postcards (and even as a stock photo during a 2014 iPad launch campaign!)
Besides experiencing the lake up close on a kayaking or boat tour to Spirit Island, the area is also awash with superb hiking trails. Tackle a hike to Bald Hill and Opal Hill, or, if you’re feeling more spy, take on the 44-kilometre-long Skyline Trail between Maligne Lake and the Jasper townsite.
For the most breathtaking views of Jasper National Park, zip up the iconic Jasper SkyTram.
This popular aerial tramway scoots 2,263 metres up Whistlers Mountain, delivering epic 360-degree views over Jasper along the way. On the Jasper Skytram ride, you’ll also learn about the unique geography of Jasper National Park while marvelling at it firsthand.
Once atop the mountain, breathe in some fresh mountain air and incredible views along the boardwalks, or, if the conditions are right and your quads are warmed up, hike up to the peak of Whistlers Mountain.
The Jasper SkyTram runs between mid-March to late October or early November (depending on conditions).
As one of the largest non-polar icefields in the world, Columbia Icefield is one of the absolutely unmissable top things to see in Jasper. It’s located about an hour south of Jasper along the Icefields Parkway, considered one of the world’s most scenic drives.
The Columbia Icefield lies between both Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, feeding six glaciers including the most famous in Alberta, the Athabasca Glacier.
The best way to experience the Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier is to join in on an Ice Explorer tour followed by a walk on the incredible Columbia Icefield Skywalk. This one-kilometre-long walkway, perched 280 metres above the valley below, delivers breathtaking views of some of Canada’s most amazing natural scenery.
Originating from the Columbia, the Athabasca River is one of Alberta’s most majestic rivers. See the Athabasca River at its mightiest with a trip to Athabasca Falls.
While the 23-metre-high Athabasca Falls aren’t the highest waterfalls in Western Canada, they are certainly among the most magical in Jasper National Park.
They’re easily accessible, too. The Athabasca Falls are located just 30 minutes from Jasper on the Icefields Parkway (Alberta Highway 93).
Miette Hot Springs
If you’re looking to spend one day in Jasper relaxing, a soothing soak in Miette Hot Springs may be due.
Located an hour northeast of Jasper in the heart of Jasper National Park, these natural hot springs are the hottest in the Canadian Rockies, flowing in at 54°C (129°F) before cooling to a more comfortable 40°C (104°F) in the hot springs pool.
Beside Miette Hot Springs itself, the area is full of great activities including hiking trails (such as the popular Sulphur Skyline Trail) that’ll take you into some of Jasper’s wilder surroundings. The drive from Jasper through the Fiddle Valley also offers some fantastic sightseeing opportunities.
Dark Sky Preserve
One of the most interesting features of Jasper National Park is that it’s designated as a Dark Sky Preserve. It’s actually the second-largest one in the world!
Not matter what time of year you visit Jasper National Park, the star-gazing opportunities are some of the best in the world. The ultra-dark sky springs to life billions of stars in the Milky Way that shine brighter than you’ve ever imagined. Timing your visit right, you might also get the chance to see the Northern Lights are their finest!
If you’re visiting Jasper in fall, set aside some time to check out the Jasper Dark Sky Festival. The festival features a number of events including informative workshops for budding astrophotographers.
Of all of the top activities in Jasper National Park, perhaps none is more memorable than Maligne Canyon. In the cool winter months, in particular, the canyon possesses a rare ethereal beauty thanks to the frozen waterfalls and ice caves hidden in its midst.
The safest way to experience the canyon is on a guided Maligne Canyon Ice Walk Tour. The moderately-challenging three-kilometre walk lasts about 3 hours and pierces in to the heart of the canyon where you’ll get to see the majestic ice formations in their full unadulterated glory.
During winter, one of the most popular activities in Jasper is skiing, and there’s no better place to do it than Marmot Basin.
At an elevation of 1,698 metres, Marmot Basin is the highest ski resort in Canada and one of the country’s favourites. Not only is there plenty of that oh-so-sweet powdery natural snow here, the resort is easily accessible. It’s located just 30 minutes from Jasper Town.
Marmot Basin stretches out 1,702 acres over five different mountain face. There are seven ski lifts here to whisk skiers & snowboarded off to pistes that cover everything from beginning to expert.
The ski season at Marmot Basin is longer than at most ski resorts in Canada, spanning from mid-November to early May.
Situated on the iconic Icefields Parkway, Sunwapta Falls are among the most impressive in the area. The series of three waterfalls, coursing down the Sunwapta River, break down into upper and lower section, falling over 22 metres.
The most spellbinding section of Sunwapta Falls is the upper falls. Easily accessed from the main parking lot, the upper falls drop down over 18 metres into the lower section.
To see Sunwapta Falls at its best, visit in late spring and early summer when the post-winter melt Athabasca Glacier is at its absolute peak and the falls are at their mightiest.
Old Fort Point Loop
While relatively short & sweet, the Old Fort Point Loop is one of the best hiking trails in Jasper National Park and one of the must-do activities for active visitors.
The 3.5-kilometre hike isn’t always easy. Prepare to power up some challenging steep terrain on your way to Old Fort Point, a hill perched 130 metres above the Athabasca River.
The hill is named after an old trader’s cabin, built on the bedrock here in 1811. Although the cabin is no longer here, this Canadian National Historic Site still delights visitors with its sweeping views over the mountainside including Mount Edith Cavell, Victoria Cross Range, Pyramid Mountain, and Lac Beauvert.
Atop the Old Fort Point Loop, you’ll usually see a flock of bighorn sheep chillin’. Be careful to also keep on the lookout for black bears roaming the lower sections of the trail.
Where to stay in Jasper for sightseeing
Thanks to its immense popularity with Canadians & international visitors alike, choosing where to stay in Jasper isn’t always easy. Most of the accommodations scene in Jasper National Park centres around the town of Jasper. There’s a good selection here for all budgets, but be sure to book ahead, especially during the summer tourist season or ski season.
- Bear Hill Lodge: Located just 10 minutes from the centre of town by foot, this lovely lodge offers rooms with a rustic country feel for an inviting and relaxing stay in the woods.
- Pyramid Lake Resort: Perched on the shores of Pyramid Lake, this lakeside mountain resort offers a superb array of activities & amenities for guests. Along with gorgeous views of the lake and the Canadian Rockies, the resort features a private beach and a hot tub for your relaxation pleasure.
- Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge: While it might not be quite as iconic as its sister properties in Lake Louise or Banff, this luxury resort pulls out all the stops to ensure your stay is nothing short of epic. The hotel is situated on the shores of Beauvert Lake and features 8 on-site restaurants, a spa, and an award-winning golf course.