I find Jasper Town to be an adorable little place. It’s got character. Stores and restaurants are modern and colourful, and historical buildings have remained charming and tasteful. Half the size of Banff, its quaint streets are relatively free of swarms of tourists and coach buses. It’s a welcome relief.
Jasper’s relative distance from, well... everything keeps it simple, small and relatively quiet. Here are a few spots that I very much enjoyed while visiting this beautiful area.
1. Walk around town!
Slip inside the stores. Sip coffee in a cute café. Walk the streets. Breathe in the fresh mountain air. Take a peek inside Jasper’s old train station, dating from 1926; it’s been kept in great condition.
2. Patricia Lake
A winding road leads from downtown Jasper to Patricia and Pyramid Lakes, both ideal locations for canoeing, biking and boating. The first of the two lakes, Patricia Lake is set against a dramatic mountainous backdrop. There’s a perfectly-placed bench for admiring the mountain reflections in the water, and an easy 3.4km loop follows the shoreline.
3. Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake Island, linked to the shore by a wooden bridge, is particularly romantic and lovely. It’s a great spot for a picnic. On the way there or back, stop by Pyramid Lake Resort --you can’t find a bad seat in the house-- for a goblet or a pint (check the website for the irregular hours).
4. Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
On the shores of Beauvert Lake, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge’s extensive walking trails are open to the public. Its grounds and adjacent paths are stunning and absolutely worth the time to visit. Sneak a peek at the main lounge and walk the hallways, stroll past the log cabins to the waterfront. Resist the urge to feed the resident swans.
5. Maligne Canyon and Maligne Canyon Restaurant
Maligne Lake Road runs for 48kms from Jasper all the way to Maligne Lake, bypassing busy viewpoints and tourist stops. At Maligne Canyon, take the necessary 2 hours to walk to the six bridges overlooking the 50m-deep canyon; the sights are worth your time and you’ll expend little effort. The further you go from the first two bridges, the quieter it gets. If you’re a photographer, it’s worth the journey.
6. Medicine Lake
The Athabasca Valley has been inhabited for over 10 000 years and this lake is the heart of it all. Every fall, the lake slowly drains through sinkholes in the lakebed into the world’s largest underground cave system. Having disappeared completely every winter, it fills back up again with rainfall in the spring. This bizarre behaviour intrigued the Simpcw Aboriginals, who considered the lake to be scared and medicinal (hence its name).
7. Lake Annette
Lake Annette, along with nearby Lake Edith, used to be one larger basin way back in the day. Shallow banks ensure the waters are warm in the summer, and grassy patches are popular with sunbathers and picnickers. There’s a 2.4km trail (wheelchair-accessible) that circles Lake Annette, which makes for a great run or a leisurely stroll with your pooch.
8. Lake Edith
Sandy patches and a relatively large beach make Edith Lake a popular place with beachgoers in the summer and shoulder seasons.
9. Maligne Lake
The largest lake in the Rockies at 22km-long, there’s a 3.2km loop around the lake’s east side to Schaëffer Viewpoint. Maligne Lake is surrounded by snow-covered mountains year-long, and its famous Spirit Island is accessible only by boat ride. The tour is worth the mountain views alone.
We saw quite a few moose hanging around the lodge. Don't ever try to get up close to these gentle giants; they will aggressively demand their space and defend themselves if necessary. These photos were taken with a telephoto lens.
More beautiful photos of the Canadian Rockies here !
A few noteworthy mentions:
I haven’t been to the following places yet, but I’ve heard plenty about them and I think they’d be worth checking out:
- Jasper Tramway (cable car over Jasper)
- Miette Hot Springs and area
- Skiing-snowboarding in Marmot Basin
- Bald Hills hike
- Opal Hills hike
- Cavell Meadows hike
- Old Fort Point hike
- Sulphur Skyline Trail