Gracious and Fiery Jasper
Jasper town is located in Canada's Alberta province only 4 hours and 45 minutes from Calgary Downtown. This town is surrounded by the alpine forest and is the commercial center to the Jasper National Park, established in 1907 it was declared National Park in 1930. Jasper town has gained its popularity because of the magnificent Rocky Mountains and lakes it is surrounded by. Just like Banff, Jasper is also a very popular tourist destination in Western Canada. Jasper is a very small town with a population of 4590, yet it hosts tourists from all over the world approximately about 2.4 million visitors visit this national park each year. Visitors instantly fall in love with this beautiful village that is designed keeping its charming surrounding in mind. The architecture of this town is very warm and rustic style. There are many historic buildings in downtown of Jasper that depict the architecture of this town, it’s best to explore downtown Jasper on foot. Grab a cup of warm coffee and enjoy the views while you explore this cute yet very pastoral downtown with modern touches. Because of its popularity and beauty it can be very expensive to live in Jasper town, so the best option to stay is in Hinton, which is only an hour drive from Jasper. During my visit to Jasper I stayed in Hinton which I think was a good decision as the money saved in my accommodation was spend towards exploring the town and national park. Best Western Hinton, Econo Lodge & Suites or Days Inn By Wyndham Hinton are some of the options you can look into they are budget friendly and offer decent rooms. Hinton also offers Air BnB option as well and RV rental. Summers are very busy in Jasper so it’s advised to plan your trip in advance to make sure you get good deals on accommodation. You can choose to stay on budget and utilize your money more towards site seeing and outdoor excursions.
Spotting Wildlife is always fun
What is the Drive like?
Drive from Calgary to Jasper is considered to be one of the most stunning drives in Canada. Jasper national park is huge and has so much to see and cover, this National Park holds lakes, springs, river, waterfalls and mountains. Driving through the park I felt like I was on the sets of Twilight movie. It is huge filled with lush green alpine mountains and dense forest, the drive from Calgary to Jasper is just breath taking. As soon as you enter the Glacier National Park you can feel the breeze its clam and serene. Glacier National Park is one of the National Parks of Canada and is on the way when driving from Calgary to Jasper. The dense forest and the wildlife that often grazes on the side of the highway are exciting to watch. Every bit of the drive is spectacular, my eyes were constantly peeled towards the window and I was excited for what was coming next as we were driving towards Jasper. You see beautiful streams and lakes that are turquoise in color and the fact that you never for a second get tired from the drive. You are curious of what views will you see next and trust me, will not get disappointed to what you see every mile you drive it just gets better and better.
Where is Athabasca Glacier and what is it?
You will also witness the huge Athabasca Glacier in the Columbian Ice Fields from the high towards Jasper. Athabasca Glacier is one the most popular tourists destination, this Glacier currently looses depth of 5 meters in a year and has lost half of its volume over 125 years.
Where to stop and what to explore in Columbian Icefield?
If you are adventurous and want to try something thrilling, make sure to take the bus tour that actually drives all the way up to the glacier. It is quite interesting to watch the bus drive on the icy glacier, you can get out and walk on the glacier, make sure to take safety precautions as it can be very slippery. You can book the bus tour from Columbian Ice Field Discovery Centre, good place to take washroom break as well. They operate different tours and shuttle runs every 30 minutes subject to change. This also includes the tour of the Columbian Icefield Skywalk, which is another thrilling experience, This Sky walk is basically a glass bridge hanging from the cliff and while you want to resist from looking down, it is quite exciting to peek through the glass and look down the valley.
You will notice many people avoid looking down the glass and even get scared walking on it. Fun fact per square inch of the glass can hold over 1000 pounds WoW!! Make sure to take a pause and look around the valley these mountains home to many different species of wildlife like big horn sheep, mountain goats and bald eagle and more. Walk to the edge and if you are lucky you will spot mountain goats grazing confidently on the mountain peaks. I spotted a herd of big horn sheep and was absolutely excited to watch them in their natural habitat. So when driving to Jasper from Calgary make sure to stop for this fun filled excursion, if you decide to do both activities it usually take 3 hours to complete both. If you just want to do the Skywalk then you need to spare 45 minutes out of your trip time.
As you get closer to Jasper town make sure to look out for the beautiful Athabasca River on your left, you will thoroughly enjoy the view of the glorious river flowing through the mountains creating picture perfect view for the visitors.
What to see in Jasper National Park?
Jasper National is the largest National Park of Canada and possesses tons of splendid views, waterfalls, lakes and mountains. Some of the popular lakes that are must visit in Jasper National Park are, Patricia Lake, Pyramid Lake, Horseshoe Lake, Cavell Lake, Maligne Lake. Popular destinations that are must visit in the National Park are Jasper Sky Tramp, Maligne Canyon, Athabasca Falls, , Maligne Lake boat tour, Jasper Downtown, Miette Hot Springs.
Jasper Sky Tramp: This is a very exciting outdoor activity to do in Jasper. This Sky Tramp takes you all the way to the peak of the mountain from where you can hike to the magnificent peak of the Whistler Mountain Range. The aerial view of Jasper town from the top of the mountain is just fabulous. If you decide not to do the hike then walk around the mountain where the tramp drops you and enjoy the 360 view of the neighboring Whistler Mountains and if you are lucky you will spot Kichi the Red Panda from Jungle Book, you guys remember him?? They are super cute but shy animals so if you spot one enjoy the view quietly, take lots of photos to capture the moment. Look down and you will see the beautiful Jasper surrounded with lakes the view of the town is just splendid. If you want to enjoy a meal watching the serene view make sure to stop at the Summit Restaurant that offers great view and amazing food. By the way this Sky Tram is highest and longest guided aerial tramway in Canada, the journey completes in 7.5 minutes, I got many goose bumps and butterflies as we got closer and closer to the top of the mountain. Make sure to take lots of photos from the tram.
Maligne Canyon: This is a very popular tourist attraction, great sightseeing destination. The canyon is filled with waterfalls, underground streams and lots of different species of wildlife and birds to view. There are total six bridges to cover usually people don't go all the way up to the sixth bridge as the hike is very steep and difficult. There are also chances of bear encounter in the area, however many visitors cover all the six bridges make the decision as per your time and preference you certainly won't get disappointed. If you go till the 5th bridge the hike is around 2 and half hours round trip. There is lot of information for you to read about the formation of the Canyon and the habitat of the plants and wildlife living in the area, great info for knowledge. Make sure to keep your camera handy to capture the moments as there are many stunning views as you explore the Canyon. Oh ! and yes there is ample of parking space make sure to go early on weekends as this is a popular destination and sometimes parking is full.
Athabasca Falls: Magnanimous milky fall popular for its force of flowing from the upper Athabasca River is another popular tourist destination. The fall is huge and flows down in full force that you can even feel the mist on your face even when standing far. This place is very well developed with fence and secured to view the falls from distance yet feel so close to it, make sure to stay at a distance while appreciating the beauty falls safety always comes first.
The water flows down into narrow canyons that opens in the lower Athabasca river hike all the way down to the lower river area and enjoy the beautiful view of the calm river flowing through the mountains. It is interesting to watch how the water falls with full power down into the canyon and as it reaches the lower river it gets calm and serene, great place to sit down and relax. Again there is lot of parking available and it is a very short walk from parking lot to the falls very easily accessible, so make sure to take a quick stop and enjoy the view of the miraculous Athabasca Falls.
Maligne Lake: Maligne Lake is one of the most popular lakes of Jasper National Park. The lake has gained fame because of its beautiful water that is sapphire in color and surrounded by mountain ranges adding even more value to the beauty of this lake. Maligne Lake is only 44 km from Jasper Town; the 21 picturesque drive is worth the visit. There are guided boat tours that operate from Maligne Lake to Spirit Island which is apparently famous Island amongst visitors and is only accessible by boat. Maligne Lake area also offers many day hikes for hikers, make sure to consider Opal Hills and Bald Hills loops. The Maligne Lake Boat House also offers boats on rent from $60 per hour, great experience to explore the lake and click some photos of the scene scenery while you cruise through the clam water.
Downtown Jasper: Jasper town is located in the heart of Jasper National Park, making it very busy all year round although walking through the town you won't feel the hustle and bustle of tourism. The town is beautifully planned and designed with many historic buildings adding to the beauty of this town. The mountain range standing strong surrounds Jasper giving this downtown the best panoramic view. Downtown has many locally owned gift shops and boutiques, make sure to visit Bombshell Boutique this store has many options to offer in jewellery and clothing many labels are locally owned in Alberta. Great shop to take souvenirs, there are many other cute stores that offer lots of souvenir options. Jasper Curry Place is a famous Indian Restaurant that offers great variety of Indian cuisine. The Raven Bistro is a popular dinning option if looking for fusion, they offer Mediterranean cuisine with local twist, the menu is very interesting and mouth-watering. Downtown also offers local traditional bakeries for those looking for some sweet treats. A small yet very attractive downtown that is full of endearing buildings and shops will certainly impress you and make your trip memorable.
What are winters like in Jasper?
Apart from summer this place is also popular during winter time for its winter activities. Many tourists from all over the world look forward to Canadian winters to enjoy Ski. Jasper offers many daring and fun filled winter activities for its guests some of which are Ice Climbing on the frozen falls, Dog Sledge rides, Skiing and Snow Boarding, Maligne Canyon Ice Walk, Ice Skating and winter wild life viewing wow so much to do even in the colder months. I have to say Jasper is very popular for wild life viewing and most of the time visitors come across wild life in their natural habitat. Jasper is home to Elk, Moose, Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, Grizzly Bears and Black & Brown bears. During my trip I saw black mama bear with her cub, moose, mountain goats and Grizzly bear. I was so pleased and felt very lucky to see these animals in their natural habitat. With so much to offer all year round you would never get bored or worn-out on your vacation every morning is new and exciting.
After reading about Jasper I am pretty sure you are already planning a trip to this stunning town that offers both nature and town adventures for everyone. Jasper has so much to offer sky is the limit for this town and national park. Grab your laptop book your trip and head to Jasper and most important part do not forget your camera.
PS: Make sure to fill up gas before you enter Glacier National Park when driving from Calgary. After Banff there are not many Gas Stations on the way to Jasper from Calgary so to be on safer side it's wise to fill up your tank and be prepared.