Jasper National Park
Comprising of delicate and carefully protected ecosystems, Jasper's scenery is nonetheless rugged and mountainous. In this special corner of Canada you can thrill to the thunder of Sunwapta Falls, enjoy the serene beauty of Mount Edith Cavell, connect with nature along more than 1,000 km of trails, experience Athabasca Glacier up close, or resign yourself to a relaxing soak in Miette Hot Springs.
By carHighway 16 (Yellowhead) bisects the park east-west. Hinton is 69 km and Edmonton is 350 km to the east. Valemount is 110 km to the west. The only other way into the park is from Lake Louise in the south via the Icefields Parkway.
By trainVia Rail provides commercial rail travel from Edmonton and Vancouver. There is also the private Rocky Mountaineer tourist train.
By planeThe closest International Airports are in Edmonton (YEG), 350 kilometers east of the park and Calgary 350 km south of the park. Edmonton is generally a quicker drive but Calgary is a more scenic route and has more international connections.
Fees and permits
All Canadian National Parks require visitors to pay an entry fee. Canadian residents and international visitors pay the same fees. The national parks in Alberta and BC are fairly close to each other and it is possible to visit several of them in a single day. If you pay an entry fee in one mountain park (e.g. Banff National Park), and visit another on the same day (e.g. Yoho National Park), you will not have to pay a second time. Your paid entry fee is valid until 4PM the following day.
The fees that visitors pay do not go to general government revenues; they are used to enhance and maintain the parks and visitor services.
For 2018, the entry fees are:
- $9.80 per day for an adult (aged 17-64)
- $8.30 per day for a senior (aged 65+)
- free for children and youth (aged 0-16)
If you are entering the park as a group of 2-7 people travelling in a single vehicle, you can pay the group fee of $19.60 per day. (This is the same fee as paying for two adults.)
If you will be visiting Canadian National Parks for 7 days or more, you may save money by purchasing an annual Discovery Pass:
- $67.70 for an adult
- $57.90 for a senior
- $136.40 for a family/group
A Discovery Pass includes admission to national historic sites operated by Parks Canada, such as the Banff Park Museum, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Bar U Ranch, Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site, and Fort Langley National Historic Site. Parks Canada does not operate all of Canada's national historic sites.
Additional variable fees are required for camping and backcountry exploration. See the official Parks Canada website for a complete current schedule.
A Park Pass is also required for anyone travelling the Icefields Parkway (#93) between Lake Louise and Jasper.
The best way to see the area is by foot. Head a few hundred metres from a car park and you are in wilderness and does not take much longer to get away from the people.
Whistler's MountainTake the Jasper Tramway half way up the mountain. From there it is a relatively short but very steep walk to the peak. On a clear day there are some superb views of the mountains ranges of the area and back into the valley below. May people get a false sense of security in the summer walking from the cable-car but be aware the weather can change quickly and you can find yourself in clouds or a small whirlwind.
Maligne LakeRegular boat trips to see the wonder of a lake with water two different colours in different parts. Spirit Island, made famous by a photography competition, is in the middle of Maligne Lake. The only way to see the island is to take the boat cruise (1.5 hours round trip). Below the car park and gift shop area it can be crowded with visitors in the summer, just south past the buildings is a raised view point providing an excellent view of the lake. A little walk along the northern shore passed the boat house takes you to a trail with fewer people. It follows the lake shore for a while before heading inland and looping back to the car park. It provides a chance to experience the local flora and fauna as well as see a glacial kettle.
Maligne CanyonImpressive deep cut canyon with waterfalls and interesting carved rock formations. Steep but good footpath along the top of the canyon, one side being fenced while the other is open. The river, up near Maligne Lake, flows in a mighty torrent. When it enters Medicine Lake (named in reference to bad medicine) it does so with great volumes. It does not, however, appear to flow out. Indeed, through the summer months Medicine Lake disappears until, in mid autumn all that is left is a thin channel that itself disappears into the shoreline. In Winter, walk on the canyon bottom to see masses of blue ice where waterfalls flow in the summertime!
Medicine LakeNot strictly speaking a lake but the point where water backups from the Maligne River before disappearing underground through sink holes. There is no river running out of the lake, the depth depending on the inflow rate from ice melt. A pull-off at western end of the lake provides a spectacular view of the valley and hills.
Beaver LakeA 1.5 km hike along a broad slightly climbing trail through bush and woodland brings you to a beautifully clear lake teaming with fish between the Colin and Queen Elizabeth Ranges. For the more intrepid continue along the Jaques Lake Trail South of Boundary Trail. Be aware that although you will not see many people along this trail, there is a good chance of meeting bears.
Athabasca FallsAn impressive waterfall. The Athabasca River thunders through a narrow gorge where the walls have been smoothed and potholes are created by the sheer force of the rushing water carrying sand and rock. There are parking and toilet facilities. Paved trail and picnic sites are available.
Angel GlacierGlacier on the north face of Mount Edith Cavell. Easy hike along Cavell Meadow trail from the car park to see some spectacular colours of ice and rock.
Goat lickChance of seeing mountain goats at the side of the road
Sunwapta FallsSmall waterfall but worth a brief visit. Only a short walk from the car park
Tangle fallsPicturesque waterfall that is right on the side of the road.
Columbia IcefieldOne of the largest and most accessible glaciers in the Rockies.
phone: +1 780-866-3939address: Miette Road, Jasper National ParkA place to relax after a day of hiking, the hottest mineral springs in the Rockies flow from the mountain at 54ºC. The water is cooled to a comfortable 40ºC as it enters the pools. There are two hot pools and two cool pools, a café, a souvenir shop, a picnic ground and interpretive exhibits. Suits, towels and lockers are available for rent. It is open May to mid-October, and located between Jasper and Hinton.
- The town of Jasper has a good selection of places to eat.
- There is a cafeteria at Columbia Icefield
Maligne LakeBasic cafeteria
Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodgephone: +1 780-852-4852Restaurant and cafeteria options.
For lodging right in Jasper, please see the Jasper article.
phone: +1 778 328-2220address: Maligne Lake RdClosed Wednesdays Oct-Apr, open all other times. This 24-bed hostel, is an excellent place to get away from things for a while. Though it lacks running water, you'll not miss anything else. There's a good sized kitchen, a supply of drinking water, and a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
phone: +1 778 328-2220address: Mt Edith Cavell RdThe 3,363-metre peak of Mt. Edith Cavell towers over this little wilderness hostel set in a narrow valley. An ideal base from which to explore Angel Glacier, Cavell Meadows or the Tonquin Valley. The views are amazing! There is no running water and no electricity. Full kitchen facilities with propane gas. Wood heating in the dorms, so in winter be prepared to stoke the fire 2 or 3 times a night. Toilets are outside. In summer (May to Oct) a manager lives on-site. The road closes in winter, ski-in only, a key can be picked up from HI-Jasper or HI-Lake Louise.
phone: +1 778 328-2220address: Highway 93Rustic hostel with no running water, there is power however. Boasting a fantastic large wood-paneled common room/kitchen with wood heater, this spacious hostel is ideal for groups. Located next to the powerful waterfalls of the same name. A great base for hikers: the Fryatt Valley, Geraldine Lakes, and Athabasca Pass are nearby. Chill out at the fire-pit any time of year. 'Cowboy' showers are available for those not willing to wash in the cold creek. Sleeping is in two dorms. Some private rooms are available.
address: Highway 93This small rustic hostel is a favourite stop for cyclists between Jasper and Banff. Located adjacent the gentle waters of the Sunwapta River, the location is spectacular! Sleeping is in two dorms, nestled either side of the small kitchen and semi-outside common room. There is no running water and no electricity. Full kitchen facilities and refrigerator with propane gas. Toilets are outside. In summer (May to Oct) a manager lives on-site. Closed in winter. Expect snow any time of year here
address: 1 Old Lodge RoadFull service hotel outside of Jasper Township. Has a world-class golf course on site, and a world-class restaurant. Expect to pay world-class prices.
Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodgephone: +1 780-852-4852Quality lodges, restaurant.
CampingThere are 10 designated camping sites throughout the park. There are maps available online with information and fees. It is illegal to camp outside of designated areas without a special backcountry pass.
- Whistlers, 3.5 km south of Jasper.
- Wapiti, 5.4 km south of Jasper. This is the only campground open in winter.
- Wabasso, 16 km south of Jasper.
- Pocahontas, 45 km east of Jasper.
- Snaring River, 13 km east of Jasper.
- Mount Kerkeslin, 36 km south of Jasper.
- Honeymoon Lake, 52 km south of Jasper.
- Jonas Creek, 78 km south of Jasper.
- Columbia Icefield, 106 km south of Jasper.
- Wilcox Creek, 107 km south of Jasper.
You should know that you are in bear country, and be alert of their presence. Bears become a common sight in the summer where they find food for their cubs, and food must be disposed in bear-proof containers.
Driving through the open wilderness can be a challenge, especially in the winter. You should drive carefully, and watch out for crossing wildlife. Drivers not used to winter driving should find another mode of transport to get around, or travel in the summer. Areas near mountain slopes are prone to avalanches, weather can change very quickly, and road closures may come without warning. Calling for help is nearly impossible in the middle of the wilderness, as cell coverage never reaches them, and it can take days for help to come, especially in adverse weather.