Jasper National Park is often overlooked because of its famous neighbor Banff National Park. I am here to tell you that you need to visit this overlooked gem. Jasper National Park is filled with glistening waterfalls, towering mountains, blue lakes, and vast glaciers. It is just as magnificent, if not more so, than Banff National Park. The added bonus is that you also get to experience all the beauty with smaller crowds. Below I have listed five reasons on why you visit the majestic Jasper National Park!
1) INCREDIBLE HIKING OPPORTUNITIES
Jasper National Park has some of the best hikes in the Canadian Rockies. The stunning mountains, the cute goats grazing, and the immense glaciers made some of these hikes spectacular. Some of my favorite trails include:
- Wilcox Pass
- Whistlers Mountain
- Sulphur Skyline
WILCOX PASS HIKE
Wilcox Pass (my all-time favorite hike) is an 8km round trip trail with 180° views of tall standing mountains and mighty glaciers. The hike starts at the Wilcox Creek Campground with trees covering the views.
After hiking for about 1km, the alpine trees begin to disappear, and you are left with fantastic views of the Athabasca Glacier and the surrounding mountains. Wilcox Pass is one of my favorite hikes because, for about 90% of the hike, the views are out of this world. You can’t help but stop every five minutes to take an Instagram worthy picture.
About halfway into the hike, you just might have the opportunity to spot bighorn sheep. This hike is probably one of the best places to spot them. After you get to the summit, you are met with the incredible views of the Icefield Parkway and the Athabasca Glacier. Weather conditions can be extremely windy and cold, but the views are incredible.
WHISTLERS MOUNTAIN SUMMIT TRAIL
One of the most popular activities is summiting Whistlers Mountain. There are two ways to achieve this. The first is to hike up The Whistlers Trail (7.3 km one way, 1200m elevation gain, 5-8 hours) and then The Whistlers Summit Trail (1.1 km one way, 150m elevation gain, 1 hour). The second choice is to take the sky tram up to the end of Whistlers Trail, then hiking up The Whistlers Summit Trail. Because we were short on time, we decided on the second choice, the sky tram, due to time constraints.
You can buy tickets at Jasper Skytram. This sky tram is one of the highest and longest guided aerial trams in Canada, and it takes you for a ride at 2,300 meters in elevation. Once you make it to observation building, I highly recommend summiting Whistlers Mountain. The panoramic views at the top are out of this world.
Sulphur Skyline is a strenuous hike with a 700-meter elevation gain and an 8.8 km hike. The trail is a hard uphill climb, and the views are obstructed by trees throughout most of the hike. But once you reach the summit, the trees start to dwindle, and you are left with spectacular 360-degree views of all the surrounding mountains. We were lucky enough to experience Sulphur Skyline with some Mountain Goats.
2) THERE ARE SPECTACULAR WATERFALLS IN JASPER
Who doesn’t love waterfalls? Luckily Jasper has a few waterfalls with easy access to them. My two favorite waterfalls are Sunwapta Falls and the Athabasca Falls. Both waterfalls are located on the famous highway, Icefields Parkway. All you need to do is park and make the short walk on over to the stunning waterfalls.
3) YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE WITH SPIRIT ISLAND
Spirit Island is located on Maligne Lake and is not an island for most times of the year. It is a peninsula which is connected to the shore. This tiny island/peninsula is a spiritual place for the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.
Spirit Island is one of the most photographed places in the Canadian Rockies. Even though access to Spirit Island is relatively limited, people love experiencing this majestic view. You can either access the island by boat or by kayaking all day and camping near the island. Either way, you will not be disappointed. Spirit Island was my favorite part of Jasper National Park.
The water around Spirit Island is a bright green emerald color which is surprisingly different than the water near the cruise departure. The color differentiation is because Spirit Island is closer to the surrounding glaciers which contain rock flour. Experiencing the color changing on the boat was an incredible experience.
4) JASPER HAS THE BEST CHANCE TO SPOT WILDLIFE IN THE CANADIAN ROCKIES
I didn’t have much luck spotting wildlife in Banff National Park, so I assumed that it would be the same at Jasper National Park. Boy was I wrong! Everywhere we drove and hiked, we ran into wildlife. There are elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose, and even bears in Jasper National Park.
Elk is one of the most common animals to spot in Jasper National Park. You can usually see them on the roadside or around the town. But don’t let their cute looks fool you. Elk can be extremely dangerous especially in the spring when the mother elk fiercely protect their young. The park and city have many instances in which people were injured by elk.
The black bear and the grizzly bear live in Jasper National Park. The black bears are easier to spot because they are more comfortable with humans and can be located near roads, campgrounds, and forested areas. We were lucky enough to spot the bear shown above on the way to Maligne Lake.
Other animals to spot are the mountain goat and the bighorn sheep. We saw both of these animals during two of our hikes, Wilcox Pass and Sulphur Skyline.
Being able to spot all of the wildlife in Jasper brought my spirits up. Even though I have been hiking for years, I haven’t spotted much wildlife until I got to Jasper. If spotting wildlife is one of your goals in life, then Jasper is the place for you!
5) A RELAXED ATMOSPHERE AND CHILL VIBE
The city of Jasper has a relaxed vibe all around town. I loved walking around and exploring the cute town. They have great restaurants, coffee shops, and local stores. Unlike the city of Banff which was extremely crowded and busy, Jasper was more laid back.
My favorite restaurants were the Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, Earls Kitchen & Bar, and Jasper Curry Place. I also loved going in every morning to the Bear Paw Bakery for some coffee and treats. There are also good accomodation options in the town, including The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Chateau Jasper, and The Crimson Jasper Hotel.
BONUS: YOU CAN CHILL AT THE HOT SPRINGS AFTER A STRENUOUS HIKE
After hiking the great trails in Jasper National Park, soaking up in the Miette Hot Springs is a must. This hot spring is located in the east side of Jasper National Park right next to the Sulphur Skyline trailhead. I recommend completing the strenuous Sulphur Skyline hike and then take a soak in Miette Hot Springs.
I hope this has inspired you to visit Jasper National Park. Jasper is filled with so many magical views and has one of the most laid-back atmospheres that it is hard not to fall in love with this beautiful national park!
Have you ever been to Jasper National Park? If you have any additional tips for our readers or questions please leave these in the comments below.
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- Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
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- The Crimson Jasper Hotel
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