Did you know Jasper is the largest of the Canadian Rockies national parks? Take a road trip there from Edmonton or drive the jaw-dropping Icefields Parkway from Banff, known as one of the best drives in the world. When you arrive in town, you’ll be greeted by an easygoing alpine getaway with all the charming local restaurants, breweries and cozy accommodations you’ll need during your stay.
Take a boat cruise to Spirit Island
Jasper is chock-full of gorgeous scenery, including one of the most photographed places on the planet. Spirit Island can only be reached by boat, but you’re in luck. The Maligne Lake boat cruise is one of the best ways to take in the mountain scenery surrounding the glacier-fed lake. Interpretive guides on-board will also share all the interesting tidbits about Maligne’s history. And Spirit Island is more than a photo op. The famous island has held significance for the Stoney Nakoda people for centuries because of the experiences their ancestors had there.
Ride to new heights on the Jasper SkyTram
The views are stunning no matter where you look in Jasper, but there’s something special about seeing it all from above. And you don’t even have to climb a mountain to do it. The Jasper SkyTram is the longest and highest guarded aerial tramway in the entire country, and it only takes seven minutes to climb 2,263 metres (7,424 feet) to the peak of Whistlers Mountain. You’ll be accompanied by an expert flight attendant who will share fun facts along the way. When you reach the top, spend some time exploring or sit back and take it all in from the restaurant.
Get to know Jasper’s wildlife
There are more than 600 species of wildlife that call Alberta home, and Jasper National Park is a haven for elk, deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, coyotes, wolves, moose and even grizzly bears. You’re likely to spot wildlife in one way or another during your visit, and one of the safest ways to do so is on a guided wildlife tour. An evening wildlife tour is among your best bets to see wildlife in their natural surroundings, especially alongside a knowledgeable guide. Remember: Never feed or approach wildlife.
Go on a canyoning adventure
The mountain scenery at ground level (and above) is stunning, but what waits within Jasper’s cavernous canyons and gorges is fascinating in an entirely different way. A guided canyoning adventure is one way to explore these depths, and your trusty guides will make sure you have everything you need to do it safely and confidently. Canyon tours generally range from four to 10 hours, and you should be prepared to get a little (or very) wet along the way. All the equipment you’ll need is provided, too.
Hike to Mount Edith Cavell
The mountain ranges in Alberta boast some seriously impressive peaks, and Mount Edith Cavell towers above with the distinction of being the most prominent peak located entirely within the province. Mount Edith Cavell, named after a heroic British nurse who saved soldiers during the First World War, is a whopping 3,363 metres (11,033 feet) tall, and you can take in the views of the north face after a hike through Cavell Meadows.
Explore the Columbia Icefields
Whether you opt to drive the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper or want a daytrip from town, the Columbia Icefields are a must-see. The best way to experience the jaw-dropping Athabasca Glacier is to climb aboard the Ice Explorer, a giant vehicle that can traverse the icy terrain and take you to the best spot to explore and walk along the glacier. This area is steeped in fascinating history, too, which you’ll learn about on the drive. The expedition starts and ends at the Glacier Discovery Centre, and a quick drive north will take you to the Glacier Skywalk. The glass-floored walkway is situated a staggering 280 metres (918 feet) above the Sunwapta Valley. It’s completely safe, and you’ll want to take in this view.
Stargaze at the Jasper planetarium
There are plenty of world-renowned places in Alberta, and that extends to the night sky. Alberta is where you’ll find the two largest dark-sky preserves in the entire world – Jasper National Park and Wood Buffalo National Park. A dark sky preserve is free from light pollution, so the night sky truly comes alive. The Jasper Planetarium is the best way to experience the park’s dark-sky wonders. Check out the domed theatre or try the telescope and planetarium combo that give you access to the largest and most powerful telescopes in the Rockies.
Learn About Indigenous Cultures with Warrior Women
Indigenous peoples have called the lands, now known as Alberta, home since time immemorial. You can learn about Cree culture and traditions with Warrior Women, a mother-daughter duo based in Jasper and Edmonton. Join a weekly fireside chat for storytelling, drumming, singing and friendly conversation – you’ll even learn how to say some phrases in Cree. Or join Warrior Women for a Wapakwanis Plant Walk, Make and Take, where Matricia Brown, a Cree Knowledge Keeper, will teach you all about the plant medicines and food that grows within Jasper National Park.
Unwind in the Miette Hot Springs
The naturally occurring Miette Hot Springs can be a destination for a day of R&R or a stop while adventuring in the surrounding area. The hot springs are generally open from May to October each year, and they’re known for being the hottest in the Canadian Rockies. Don’t worry, the water is cooled to a cozy temperature before it enters the hot springs pool.