Jasper is an alpine town that is the commercial centre of the iconic Jasper National park. With its snow-capped Canadian Rockies, glacier-fed lakes and wild forests, it is where adrenaline seekers, star gazers and wildlife lovers come together.
If you are going on a Rocky Mountaineer train holiday, Jasper is a popular stop off for a few days and you’ll want to pack as much exploration in as possible during your stay here. The town makes the perfect base for going on a bear watching trip, hiking, or driving to one of the many glaciers and lakes in the national park.
Follow our recommendations to kick off your holiday in Jasper with tips about how you can spend 48 hours in Jasper.
Our suggested itinerary
Morning – Take a ride on the Jasper SkyTram
Afternoon – Go hiking or go on a lake cruise
Evening – Go stargazing and then discover some of Jasper’s cuisine
Morning – Visit the Icefields Parkway
Afternoon – Enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Jasper Wellness
Evening – Say cheers to a couple of great days with some local food and drink
Morning: Take a ride on the Jasper SkyTram
There is no better way to kick off your time in Jasper than with a ride on the world-famous Jasper SkyTram. Climb aboard and you are whisked to the top of Whistlers Mountain. Both at the peak and in the tram, you can enjoy a front row seat to view of the surrounding mountain ranges.
The SkyTram is the longest and highest guided aerial tramway in Canada. As well as offering spectacular views of mountain ranges and even Mount Robson on a clear day, you can see the town of Jasper, Maligne Lake and the Athabasca River from above. If you are really lucky you might see wildlife like bears, deer or wolves.
Madeline Pickerl, Marketing & Sales Coordinator at Jasper SkyTram, has a number of tips that you should follow:
– Plan to visit the Jasper SkyTram early in the morning or in the evening to avoid queues.
– Skip the line completely by reserving your flight online before you arrive.
– For those without a vehicle there is a daily shuttle service from Jasper Town to Jasper SkyTram offered by SunDog Tour Company.
Afternoon: Go hiking or go on a lake cruise
Unsurprisingly there are a number of walks around Jasper and in the wilderness of Jasper National Park. By hiking you can get some stunning up-close views of the area.
Hike Jasper recommends a trek along the Maligne Canyon. The experts at Hike Jasper say, “Maligne Canyon is considered the most interesting canyon in the Canadian Rockies.”
This walk is 3.7km long from the Sixth Bridge one way and takes 1-2 hours to hike each way, although this time does include some stops for sightseeing. Some of the sights you can see include huge limestone boulders, lots of springs and the Maligne River.
Mickey Shannon, who runs his own travel and photography blog and has previously visited Jasper, says, “Further to the east, Maligne Lake is another must-see place. While you’re there, make sure to check out Maligne Canyon as well!”
If you would prefer something slightly more relaxing than a hike, then you can go on a Maligne Lake Cruise. Many regard the Maligne Lake Cruise as the best boat cruise in Canada as it boasts panoramic views across the crystal waters of the lake and the huge mountain peaks at the bottom of the lake are known as the Valley of the Gods.
The Maligne Lake, which is located in the Improvement District in Alberta, is just over an hour’s drive from Jasper and at 14 miles long it is the second-largest glacier-fed lake in the world.
The tour takes you to Spirit Island, which is only accessible by boat, so you can learn about the Stoney Nation indigenous people and why the island is one of the most photographed places in the country, although you cannot step foot on the island as it is sacred. The cruise will tell you about the history of the lake, including its mapping by Mary Schaffer.
This cruise is part of our Canadian Rockies and Pacific Coast Holiday and as well as the Maligne Cruise you will visit Lake Louise and tour along Icefields Parkway.
Evening: Go stargazing and then discover some of Jasper’s cuisine
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada named Jasper National Park a Dark-Sky Preserve back in 2011, making it the second largest dark sky reserve in the world. The region is now a hotspot for avid stargazers the world over.
You should certainly go stargazing during your visit to Jasper as, thanks to the lack of light pollution, you can witness the incredible colours of the Milky Way and its stars that you just won’t be able to see in towns or cities.
If you are visiting in October, then you can enjoy the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, which takes place from 13-22 October. Some of the events taking place over the course of the festival include talks by space science power duo Brian Cox and Phil Plait, a symphony under the stars by Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Strings and dark sky photo tours.
Best locations to go stargazing
There are so many incredible places to go stargazing, but here are some destinations that are regarded as the best:
– Pyramid Island
– Maligne Lake
– Old Fort Point
– The toe of the Athabasca Glacier
Either before or after you go stargazing you need to tuck into some great food. Despite being a small mountain town, Jasper is home to a large selection of amazing restaurants and no matter what your taste, you are certain to find a restaurant to suit your needs.
Famoso is regarded as a great eatery in Jasper as it serves delicious Neapolitan pizzas that are made with authentic ingredients from Italy. Since 2004 this pizzeria has been impressing locals and visitors alike and if you eat here you won’t be disappointed.
The Jasper Curry Place is another great place to eat at as you can try home-made appetisers, fresh curries, hand-made fresh naan bread and lots of other mouth melting dishes. The food isn’t the only impressive element of this restaurant as you can go on their outdoor patio and enjoy incredible views of the Rocky Mountains.
Morning: Visit the Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway links Jasper with Lake Louise and is one of the top drives in the world as it takes in some spectacular sights.
Mickey Shannon recommends heading to Jasper National Park and then travelling down the Icefields Parkway road.
He adds, “Without a doubt, a highlight of Jasper National Park is the Icefields Parkway. The view from here looks towards the Columbia Icefield. You can even take a snow coach onto the glacier if you choose. Waterfalls are plentiful as well. Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls are also great destinations along the Icefields Parkway just south of the town of Jasper itself.
“Before Maligne Lake is Medicine Lake, which is actually not a lake at all. In the summer, when snowmelt runoff comes into the valleys at a high pace, the valley where Medicine Lake is fills with water, creating Medicine Lake. As the season goes on, the lake drains underground and disappears until the next year.”
Afternoon: Enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Jasper Wellness
After an action packed morning you can put your feet up and relax at Jasper Wellness – a refuge for centring body and soul in the heart of downtown Jasper.
You can recharge and renew yourself as Jasper Wellness’ daily offerings include various yoga classes that are open to all levels and abilities. Summer offerings include outdoor experiences to connect more deeply with the surroundings. You can also enjoy a range of massages from a registered massage therapist as well.
Jenna McGrath from Jasper Wellness, says, “Come seek refuge in the heart of Jasper’s Rocky Mountains at Jasper Wellness. We join each other daily to practice the connection of breath, movement and togetherness.”
Evening: Say cheers to a couple of great days with some local food and drink
Head to the Jasper Brewing Company Brew Pub & Eatery to enjoy hand crafted beer, food with attitude and other unique beverages.
The local beer is made with authentic, fresh craft products, making it a truly Canadian beer and along with this locally brewed beer you can enjoy food classics.
During your visit you can learn about the brewing process of the beer and how premium hops and malts are combined with yeast strains before natural mountain water, which is sourced from the Canadian Rockies, is added.
Recommended beer and food
The Jasper the Bear Ale is named after Jasper’s town mascot, and the honey beer is brewed with a touch of coriander. The Jasper Pride Red Rye Lager is another enticing drink to try as the blend of sweet barley malt and spicy rye mean you get a beer with a unique flavour.
To accompany your drink you can choose between shareable meals like classic poutine and BC salmon nachos or main meals such as grilled Alberta sirloin and rustic elk meatloaf to name just a few.