Jasper National Park is a beautiful area with nature as its tourist attraction. It is ideal for the single traveler, a couple, a group of friends, or a family. Here are a few ideas when traveling through the Park:
1. Wildlife, however tame it may seem to be, is wild. Do not feed the animals or try to get in close for the perfect picture. The animals are unpredictable, and have been known to seriously injure or kill humans. Always be very careful around the animals; this is not a petting zoo. Also, use caution when driving. There are often many animals on the road, so to protect yourself and the wildlife, adhere to all posted speed limits.
2. The weather in Jasper National Park is often as unpredictable as the wildlife. In the middle of July you could get hot, sunny weather one day, and snow falling the next. Keep this in mind when packing.
3. The town of Jasper can be expensive. From food, to hotel accommodations, to personal hygiene items, purchases made in Jasper are generally more expensive than the average Alberta town.
4. Pay heed to the signs that warn you that the next gas station is very far away. Gas stations are few and far apart in the Park, and the more remote they are, the more expensive they get. If possible, fuel up in the town of Jasper, and keep your tank relatively full at all times.
The price of a hotel room or suite in Jasper is usually fairly expensive. If you are a family looking for a place to stay, good places are bungalows like the Pocahontas and Bonhomme Bungalows. If you can afford a more expensive vacation, here are a couple favorites among the many up-market hotels:
1. Jasper Park Lodge: This hotel is very pricey; the cheapest room during the summer is around $200/night. Located around Lac Beauvert outside of the town, it is picturesque and features a wide variety of suites and activities. Activities and amenities include the promenade (mall), a few restaurants with delicious food, swimming facilities, horseback riding, an excellent golf course, and a walking trail around the lake. The rooms have a rustic and cozy atmosphere, and although this is a gorgeous place to spend the night or day, it is not for the shallow wallet.
2. Charlton’s Chateau Jasper: This is a beautiful hotel with a more modern look. It is priced lower than Jasper Park Lodge with the Premier’s suite at around $250/night. The hotel is located nicely in the town of Jasper; it is within walking distance of downtown, but far enough so that it is not noisy. There is a wide variety of excellent food, and I highly recommend the Sunday Brunch. There is also the option of the countless charming bed-and-breakfasts, not to mention plenty of campgrounds for those who like “roughing it”.
Food is usually higher-priced than average, but there are also a wide variety of restaurants and price ranges in the town. You can eat at the good old A&W restaurant for less than ten bucks, or you can spend a bit more for a fancier meal at the L&W restaurant. You can also go all out and eat at one the many posh dining rooms in town such as the Timberland, Tonquin Valley Inn, or Chateau Jasper.
Things to Do in Jasper National Park
The upside of Jasper National Park, is that once you’ve paid for the hotel room and your food, there are many exciting things to do that cost no more than the gas in your vehicle to get to your destination.
Maligne Canyon A moderate hike in both distance and difficulty, Maligne Canyon is an ideal and beautiful place to get a bit of exercise and fresh air. Bring your camera, but under no circumstances cross the boundaries around the canyon to get a better picture – a tourist has recently died attempting this. If you follow the guidelines, this will be an enjoyable and safe excursion.
Athabasca Falls This waterfall is absolutely stunning. The powerful roar of the water can be heard when you step out of your vehicle. The walk is leisurely and short, but the experience is wonderful. Again, bring your camera and stay within boundaries.
Tonquin Valley This hike boasts breathtaking views, but it is not for the fainthearted. It is arduous, though its length is determined by whenever you choose to turn around. If you choose to spend the night at one of the campsites, expect a long hike before you reach the first camp. Bring appropriate hiking and camping gear, if you go on this trip, you “will” be roughing it. Also, if you plan on spending the night in the camp, you must pay a small fee and register at the tourist information center in Jasper. For the adventurer, Tonquin Valley is ideal because of its wild beauty and very few tourists (on our six hour hike, we encountered one person). However, a few cautionary notes are in order. The sun sets in the mountain valley a lot earlier than in the town, therefore, be sure that you are either back at your vehicle or at the campsite before nightfall. There are many grizzly and black bears that roam the area. Although you will probably not come across either, take the necessary precautions to avoid or escape an attack. Bringing pepper spray and making constant noise are just a couple of precautions. Consult someone with reliable knowledge about bears and wildlife before embarking on this hike. Remember also that you will be far from civilization; if you are injured, medical help is far away and most cell phones will not work in the valley. These are not to discourage you from embarking on this memorable adventure, they are just precautions so that you avoid potential pitfalls.
Old Fort Point This is a moderate hike in length and difficulty, and the work pays off in the gorgeous view of the town and Lac Beauvert. Wear good hiking footwear and bring a camera. You may also encounter wildlife the higher up you go (we saw a majestic ram). If you see wildlife, take your cue from their response and act accordingly. Most animals will watch you closely but not attack. However, keep your distance as much as possible.
Horseback riding with Pyramid Stables Horseback riding is one of my favorite activities in Jasper. You get a knowledgeable guide, a safe and well-trained horse, and gorgeous views when you go on this trail ride. You have the option of a one, two, or three-hour ride, each one covering different terrain. Also, keep in mind that you will be riding at a higher elevation; bring warm clothes. While going on a horseback ride may be a bit costly, if you enjoy horseback riding, this will be worth your money.
Skiing in Winter
The beautiful Lake Louise Ski Resort is nearby, offering near perfect skiing on sublime snow.