Alberta’s Jasper National Park is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains World Heritage Site. It is the largest of Canada’s Rocky Mountain parks, covering 4,200 square miles/10,878 square kms. It adjoins Banff National Park to the south.
Visitors can sightsee this spectacular mountain scenery from Highway 93, which passes through Banff and Jasper. The stretch of highway between Jasper and Lake Louise is a 144 mile/232 km stretch known as the Icefields Parkway, famous for the many visible glaciers, turquoise lakes, waterfalls, and rocky spires. A few popular stops in Jasper:
Columbia Icefield This ice cap sprawls across 241 square miles/388 square km and is the source of many visible glaciers stretching toward the parkway near the border of Banff and Jasper national parks. Stop at the discovery center for interpretive displays, food services, and tickets for sno-coach tours that drive visitors onto the ice and ice walks led by certified mountain guides.
Skywalk The Columbia Icefield Skywalk is a curved walkway with a glass floor 918 feet/240 meters above the Sunwapta Valley floor.
Sunwapta Falls The upper falls, which drop about 59 feet/18 m, are easily accessible from a viewpoint at the parking lot. Hike 0.8 miles/1.3 km to get to the lower falls. These falls are most impressive in late spring or early summer when snowmelt is at its peak.
Athabasca Falls These falls are famous for the large volume of water that barrels down 75 feet/23 m near an easily accessible viewing area. The walk to the viewing area is relatively flat and about 0.25 miles/0.4 km.
Drive into Jasper National Park by taking the Yellowhead Highway west from Edmonton or east from the Central Access Route through Mount Robson Provincial Park. The Canadian Rockies Route follows BC Highways 95 and 93 north through Banff National Park and into Jasper.
All major roads in Jasper are paved and have paved shoulders, but some long, steep grades and tight bends occur.
Via Rail offers regular train service to Jasper from Edmonton and Vancouver.
Reservations and Fees
Admission to Canada’s national parks is free for youth 17 and under. Admission fees are charged for other park visitors at a daily rate. Visitors can also access the park with a Parks Canada Discovery Pass. There are additional fees for camping, fire permits, backcountry use, fishing, and other facility rental and program participation.
There is no charge for motorists passing through the park on Highway 16.
Explore the trails
Jasper is full of day hikes that range from a few hundred meters to 12-hour excursions. Many of the trails are multi-use and allow for biking, horseback riding, and dog walking.
In winter, Marmot Basin is a popular destination for downhill skiing and boarding. The park’s many waterfalls freeze in winter, creating a world-class ice climbing destination. In winter several resorts in Jasper maintain paths for ice skating.
Miette Hot Springs
These hot springs come out of the mountain at an impressive 129 degrees F/54 degrees C and are cooled to a comfortable 104/40 at the luxurious pool. The springs are 38 miles/61 km from the town of Jasper and are open seasonally from May until mid-October.
This scenic lake is only about 3 miles/5 km from the town of Jasper and is connected by several trails and bike paths in addition to the road. It sits at the base of Pyramid Mountain and is a popular spot for paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing.
Wildlife can often be spotted year-round in Jasper from roads and viewing areas through the park. Jasper National Park is home to 53 species of mammals, including elk, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, black bears, and wolves.
The Jasper SkyTram is about a 10 minute drive southwest from town and is open from late March through October. The tram lifts riders from the valley floor up to an elevation of about 7,425 feet/2,263 meters where a network of trails and viewpoints allow visitors to see Jasper National Park from an elevated vantage point.
A year-round international tourist destination, Jasper offers accommodations ranging from bungalows to luxury lodges like the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. A wide variety of places to eat and drink in town, including Jasper Brewing Co., the first brewery to open within a Canadian national park. There is also plenty of shopping in the compact, pedestrian-friendly town center.
Public parking for cars and RVs available along Connaught Drive. There is a dedicated RV/trailer parking lot on Hazel Avenue between Connaught Drive and Yellowhead Highway 16.
Jasper National Park campgrounds nearest to Jasper are located on Highway 93/ Icefields Parkway south of town: Whistlers (781 sites) is 1.5 miles/2.4 km; Wapiti (364 sites) is 2.6 miles/4.2 km; and Wabasso (231 sites) is 4.6 miles/7.4 km south on High- way 93, then 5.6 miles/9 km southwest on 93A. These are very popular campgrounds. Reserve ahead: phone 1-877-737-3783; https://reservation.pc.gc.ca. These campgrounds are usually open early May to late October. East of Jasper on Yellowhead 16 are Snaring River (62 sites), 8.5 miles/13.7 km, and Pocahontas (140 sites), 28 miles/45 km, on Miette Hot Springs Road.
Jasper National Park Information Center, housed in the historic 1914 building that originally housed park administration offices, offers maps, brochures, permits and visitor information plus a gift shop. Open year-round; phone 780-852-6176; email firstname.lastname@example.org.