Explore one of the most beautiful national parks in the entire world 🌎! Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, full of stunning blue lakes, and home to one of the largest Icefields. There are so many incredible things to do in Jasper National Park.
I have now been to Jasper twice and each time it completely blew me away 🤯! I’ve spent hours exploring in complete awe as we drove the Icefields Parkway and thrilled as I swam in vibrantly colored lakes. After this past visit to the park, I can truly say that I’m in love with it!
I have created a guide of the 10 best things to do in Jasper below as well as details you should know before your visit! This guide includes things that are only open during certain months, so keep that in mind. I hope you enjoy your time in the Canadian Rockies!
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Table of Contents
Things to Do in Jasper
1) Take a Tour to Spirit Island
Without a doubt, my favorite thing we did in the park was take the tour to Spirit Island 🏝.
Get out on a boat on the bright blue waters 💦 of Maligne Lake. Along the way, you’ll learn about the geography of the area as well as the important history of Spirit Island. We loved our tour guide and laughed a lot along the way. After about 30 minutes you’ll dock near the island itself.
Then, you can get off the boat and go for a little walk as well as take photos of the absolutely breathtaking landscape. This may be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been!
Note: You don’t actually go on Spirit Island itself, this island is sacred to the First Nations Stoney People.
This tour leaves from the Maligne Lake Boathouse and is 90 minutes or 2 hours if you get the extended tour. It starts at around $70 CAD and you can book it in advance. Maligne Lake Road is known for having tons of wildlife 🦌 so keep your eyes peeled as you drive there!
2) Drive the Icefields Parkway
If you only do one thing in Jasper National Park, then this should be it.
The Icefields Parkway is often called the prettiest drive in all of North America and for good reason. This drive 🚗 that connects Banff National Park to Jasper National Park cuts through the heart of the Rocky Mountains, passes bright blue lakes, and goes over the Columbia Icefield. It is truly a bucket list drive!
This 144 mile drive takes you from Lake Louise all the way to the town of Jasper. If you did the drive without stopping it would take about 2.5 hours. However, there are so many things to see that I would give yourself anywhere from 8-12 hours!! I’ve done it twice and still feel like there are things I need to see.
Must Stops on the Icefields Parkway:
- Peyto Lake (Banff)
- Bow Lake (Banff)
- Athabasca Glacier
- Sunwapta Falls
- Athabasca Falls
3) Hike Valley of the Five Lakes
I loved this hike so much, that I did it two days in a row! This family friendly path takes you around to 5 lakes in 3 miles. Each lake is its own unique color 🤩, which is a delight for the eyes. The lakes are stunning and on a nice day it’s a great place to go for a dip!
You can get to this trail right off of the Icefields Parkway. It’s only a few miles from Jasper, so it’s easily accessible. The parking lot does fill up at times because it’s so popular. I recommend making a day of it and hanging out 😎 by one of the lakes to catch some rays.
If you’re lucky you may spot a river otter!
Quick Hike Info:
Length: 3 miles
Elevation: 500 feet
Time: 1-3 hours (or more if you want to hang at a lake!)
4) Explore the Columbia Icefield
One of the ultimate things to do in in Jasper National Park is to explore the Columbia Icefield 🧊🧊. This Icefield is the largest in the Rocky Mountains and when you get there you will be in awe. There are multiple glaciers that hang in the mountains along the way.
However, the highlight of your visit is Athabasca Glacier. You can choose to hike up to the toe and see the markers of where it used to be and has receded to now. It is a short hike of just one mile, however, it is steep and slippery so wear shoes with good traction.
Other ways to explore the Icefield include going on the Columbia Icefield Adventure Tour, learning more at the Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre, or going on the Columbia Icefield Skywalk. You can book the tours ahead of time or at the Discovery Centre located right on the Icefields Parkway 📍!
5) Trek to Views of Glaciers
There are multiple hikes 🥾 in the Columbia Icefield that will provide stunning views of impressive glaciers. Choose to get on the trails and avoid some of the crowds in the area to get amazing views of these glaciers. Choose from Wilcox Pass or the Parker Ridge Trail for stellar glacier views 👀.
Athabasca is an enormous glacier that is one of the most famous sights in Jasper National Park. Because of its location, you can easily see it from the highway or get a wonderful view of it from Wilcox Pass. This trail is great because you can make it shorter and turn around once you get to the iconic Canadian red trails.
Quick Hike Info:
Length: 5.8 miles or 2 miles if you stop at the chairs and turn around
Elevation: 1700 feet or 600 feet
Time: 1-4 hours (depending where you stop)
Or, you can choose to hike to Saskatchewan Glacier on the Parker Ridge Trail. This hike is 4 miles and is one of the best in the entire park! People say that its beauty is stunning as you make your way over the ridge toward the Glacier. It’s a hike that you will never forget!
Quick Hike Info:
Length: 4 miles
Elevation: 1100 Feet
Time: 2-3 hours (or extend the hike further)
6) Walk through Maligne Canyon
Maligne Canyon is a deep canyon, where water twists and turns through the canyon walls creating an epic scene 😮. Visit this canyon to see the waterfalls that cascade over the cliffs and carve the rocks beneath them.
You can choose to walk to the main area of the falls and gaze out over the canyon or turn it into a longer hike. You can complete the Maligne Canyon Loop trail that will take you through the forest, over bridges, and by scenic areas of the canyon.
7) Paddle on Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake sits just outside of the town of Jasper and is one of the best lakes to visit. Sitting just below Pyramid Mountain, this kidney shaped lake is one of visitor’s favorites! Spend a day renting a kayak 🚣🏻, sitting by the shores, or taking out your own paddle board.
We stayed at Pyramid Lake Lodge and I highly recommend it if you need a place to stay in Jasper. They have free yoga 🧘♀️ on the docks, a great hot tub, offer an hour of paddling per guest, and have free s’mores whenever you want them!
From Pyramid Lake, you can also take a short drive to visit Patricia Lake, which is another fantastic lake in the area!
8) Look for Wildlife
My favorite part of exploring Jasper National Park is how much wildlife there is in its bounds. You’ll likely see bears, elk, or sheep 🐏 as you drive through the Icefields Parkway and you’ll see even more once you get further into the park!
Jasper has more wide expanses of wilderness than Banff does, which means more wildlife. So, if you go on the trails pack bear spray and make lots of noise 🗣. You can go on a wildlife tour or just drive through the park. The best place to see wildlife is along Maligne Lake Road & in the Maligne Lake area!
Animals in the Park
- Black Bears
- Grizzly Bears
- Bighorn Sheep
- Mountain Goat
9) Chase Waterfalls
With incredible amounts of snow melting from the mountains comes roaring waterfalls 💧💧 down below! If you are a waterfall lover, then you definitely have to stop at some of these incredibly large falls throughout the park.
Most of these falls can be accessed by a short walk off the roadside, which makes them very accessible. The amount of water that flows in the late spring and early summer will blow you away!
Waterfalls in Jasper:
- Sunwapta Falls
- Athabasca Falls
- Tangle Creek Falls
- Stanley Falls (1 mile on the Beauty Creek hike and one of my favorites!!)
- Punchbowl Falls
- Geraldine Falls
10) Soak in Miette Hot Springs
This is the one thing on the list that I haven’t done yet! But, I’ve heard such amazing things about Miette Hot Springs ♨️ that I had to include them. Here, you’ll find the hottest hot springs in the Canadian Rockies!
These springs have a very large pool area to soak in and are family friendly. The fee to enter is $16.50 CAD per person and $14.25 for children. It’s something that you definitely don’t want to miss. I regret that I did.
Jasper National Park Details
Things to Know About Jasper National Park
💵 Jasper National Park has an entrance fee that you must pay to explore the park. You can either get daily passes which start at $10 for adults or get an annual group pass which is $145 CAD. If you’re going to multiple parks in the area, it probably makes sense to get an annual pass.
☀️ Weather changes quickly in Jasper National Park. Make sure that you stay updated and that you take the proper precautions. If there are signs of bad weather, then stay in the lower elevations and far from large bodies of water.
⛺️ There are plenty of camping options throughout Jasper National Park. However, this is one of the most popular parks to visit. In the summer, the campgrounds are usually full so try to make a reservation in advance.
🐻 The Canadian Rockies are bear country, so you will need bear spray. In July and August it’s recommended that you hike in groups of 4 and always make loud noises. Use the rule of thumb when viewing wildlife, so that you stay the correct distance away.
🦮 Pets are allowed in most of the park, but they must stay leashed. They are only not allowed on trails that are home to caribou habitats.
⚠️ The Icefields Parkway is open year round, but it can close based on avalanches. Always stay updated on road conditions here.
🍃 Remember to follow the Leave No Trace Principles. As always, you want to leave nature looking better than you found it.
Best Time to Go to Jasper National Park
Jasper is absolutely stunning during all times of year. But, if you want to experience everything in the park then the best time to go is definitely in the summer months of July and August. However, if you’d rather avoid crowds than you’ll still find plenty to do year round.
Fall in the Canadian Rockies is absolutely stunning. Larches fill many of the mountains and bright yellows, oranges, and reds provide a kaleidoscope of colors. If you love Fall, then this is one of the best destinations to choose! Just know that there is a chance of snow in the mountains.
Winter will provide you with a dreamy landscape of the area, but is also a great time to go skiing! Skiers love Jasper and spend the winter shredding the slopes at the Marmor Basin Ski Resort.
In Spring, the mountains are just beginning to thaw. So, you may still find lots of snow on trails and cold temperatures. However, crowds are thin, animals are coming out, and its a great place to see the park with peace and quiet.
But summer is where the park truly comes alive! The lakes have thawed and are stunning blues and greens, the animals are out and about, and trails are snow free. It’s one of the absolute best summer destinations!
Where to Stay in Jasper National Park
Luckily, there are tons of accommodation options in Jasper town 🛏 and in Jasper National Park itself. You can choose to go camping or stay in a nice hotel.
If you want to stay in one of the campgrounds 🏕 in the park you must make a reservation early to grab a spot! For those who miss out, you can find some campgrounds outside of the park or choose to stay in hotels. We loved staying in Pyramid Lake Lodge and I highly recommend it.
Book a Jasper Hotel:
How to Get To Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park is fairly far from major cities, so you will want to plan your travels in advance. There are two main ways to get to Jasper ✈️.
You can either fly into Calgary and drive 4 hours by Banff and through the Icefields Parkway. Or, you can fly into Edmonton and drive 4 hours from there to the town of Jasper and the start of Jasper National Park. Both drives are fairly scenic. If you don’t want to rent a car you can look into the Brewster Express which offers rides from the airports to the parks.
What to Pack
Like most mountainous areas, Jasper National Park’s weather changes very quickly. One minute it can be hot and sunny and the next moment it may start raining 🌧 or even snowing. So, my biggest tip is to bring layers and prepare for all temperatures. Also, bear spray is a must when you are in Grizzly country. Read my complete packing list below.
Jasper Packing List
- Comfortable Hiking Boots
- Small Pack
- Hiking Poles
- First Aid Kit
- Bear Spray
- Bug Spray
- Hat to block sun
- Rain jacket or light winter jacket
- Satellite phone
- Canada Parks Pass
You could spend months exploring Jasper National Park and there would still be so much left to be seen! It’s no wonder so many outdoorsy individuals move here to spend time in the mountains. Hopefully, you’ll find this guide helpful to maximize your time and create the best Jasper National Park itinerary!
Let me know in the comments if you found this guide to Jasper National Park helpful!
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