Get ready for adventure! We’ve listed 12 Amazing Things to do in Jasper National Park to experience the beauty of this spectacular region. Jasper National Park is a gem of the Canadian Rockies! These really are the best things to do in Jasper National Park! The glaciers, mountains, and aqua green glacial lakes found in Jasper National Park are gorgeous. Here’s 12 Amazing things to do in Jasper National Park to experience the wilderness and beauty of the incredible Canadian Rockies.
Where is Jasper National Park?
Jasper, the town itself, is about 5 hours northwest of Calgary airport and 3+ hours north of Banff and the Lake Louise area. Along your drive on Highway 93 Banff National Park eventually merges into Jasper National Park. You’ll find overall, the vibe of Jasper is far more rustic and quaint given the more remote location. The more remote locale ultimately means it absolutely feels less crowded as less tourists make the trek to Jasper. We loved Jasper and the ride on Highway 93 along the Columbia Icefield is absolutely GORGEOUS and worth the trek if you have time in your itinerary. I honestly can’t rave enough about the spectacular scenery along the entire drive from Banff to Jasper.
12 Amazing Things to do in Jasper National Park
Given the remote location, Jasper reminded me of a trip I took with my family to Alaska years ago. It definitely felt less “fancy” than our stays in Banff or Lake Louise and given it’s location in the wilderness of Canada, you’ll find fewer options for lodging, dining, and shopping. That being said, the scenery, wildlife, and outdoor adventures are abundant in Jasper and I promise you won’t be bored!
Drive the Columbia Icefield Parkway
Wow! This drive along Highway 93 to Jasper is simply spectacular. Each and every vista seems better than the next. Views are literally jaw dropping as you’ll see endless mountains, glaciers, lakes, and icefields.
The ride from Banff to Jasper proper is about 3 1/2 hours and you’ll be enjoying all the views and scenic points in Banff National Park, like the above Peyto Lake, along the way to Jasper too. Enjoy the scenic view points at lakes, waterfalls, and look out for wildlife during your ride.
Tip: It’s an understatement to say there are NOT lots of restaurants or gas stops … so bring snacks and fuel up when you have the opportunity. Seriously, there is essentially one major road stop along the way called “The Crossing” so I’m sure you’ll make a pit stop here for food, souvenirs, gas and to appreciate the view!
The Athabasca River is gorgeous! There’s no better way to experience the wilderness than to get out on the river. The color of the water due to all the glacial run off makes it look extra beautiful too.
We were lucky and happened to hit a fantastic week of weather during our trip to the Canadian Rockies. Our rafting adventure happened to be on an incredibly warm August day where it ultimately hit 75 or 80 in the late afternoon. Yay!
Visit Maligne Canyon
Hike this fantastic canyon trail and enjoy all the waterfalls. We spent about 90 mins checking out Maligne Canyon on a very easy hike complete with stairs and trails.
We recommend going in the early morning as the sunlight shining through the woods looks fabulous! The cool morning temps create a misty feel in the woods and the light looks amazing. Look at some of these photos!
In the winter, Maligne Canyon is apparently it is full of all kinds of ice climbers too!
Walk on a Glacier – Columbia Icefield Adventure
Visiting the Athabasca Glacier is an absolute must do! This is a spectacular adventure and we highly recommend booking the excursion on the Ice Explorer so you can travel all the way out onto the glacier. When else will you ever get the opportunity to walk on a glacier?
You could plan this adventure either on your ride to Banff from Jasper or vice versa.
The Athabasca Glacier is about 2 hrs 15 mins from Banff and a little over an hour heading south from Jasper on Highway 93. Check out our post with 9 tips for visiting the Columbia Icefield Athabasca Glacier to help you plan your visit.
Make a stop at Athabasca Falls
During a long road trip, take the time to appreciate all the scenic stops and vistas.
This can be a quick 15 minute stop to take a short walk, snap photos, and enjoy a view of the waterfalls. Plus, if you need a bathroom stop along your drive these scenic areas generally all have restrooms.
Canoe or Kayak on the Lakes
The glacial waters are gorgeous. Definitely make the time to take 30-60 minutes to go out on a kayak or canoe to simply relax and soak up the views!
We loved taking out a canoe on Lac Beauvert. This is a great activity that all ages from kids to Grandparents can enjoy too!
Stay at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Jasper is more remote so there are fewer lodging options if you are looking for a hotel or resort as opposed to camping or staying in an RV. This is definitely a more “rustic” resort with cabins and a real outdoor feel, but it is a Fairmont so the amenities and food were excellent.
This was our homebase for 3 nights in Jasper with our Tauck Bridges family vacation and we loved the location of the hotel and all the fun activities included with our stay.
We loved the swimming pool, hot tub, hiking from the hotel, boating on Lac Beauvert, and soaking up all the stunning views of the Canadian Rockies and Mount Edith Cavell.
You can even see Edith Cavell in the background of this photo of us swimming in the pool!
Jasper Lake Lodge is home to Canada’s #1 Golf Course designed by Stanley Thompson too so if you want to play a round this is the spot to do it. Kids golf free too with adults who pay! Nice!
Hike to Old Fort Point
We loved this hike! It was challenging at the end and I felt a bit like a mountain goat climbing to the top as I scaled the rocks to get to the top, but the vistas were incredible! Even if you don’t make it all the way to the top, I encourage visitors to do at least the first quarter mile of the hike up a staircase to appreciate a beautiful view of the Athabasca River and Jasper. If you have more energy, go another 1/2 mile up some easy hills for an even better view.
How Long is the Hike? It all depends on where you start! We spent about 3 hours round trip but we started all the way at Jasper Lake Lodge so our first few miles were totally flat and scenic along the lake and then in the woods. (Bring Bear Spray!!!)
We took the hike from the Jasper Lake Lodge and followed trail signs along Lac Beauvert, through marked trails into the woods, and then finally actually reached the Old Fort Point trailhead parking lot located along the Athabasca River. From there, it was a straight climb up a giant staircase, steep grassy hills and then a climb up a quite a few very steep rocky hills. There were trails to climb, but they were rugged the farther up you climbed!
Bike, Hike, or Run the Lac Beauvert Loop
The best way to experience a new place is always to just get out and exercise! Lac Beauvert at the Jasper Lake Lodge has an easy loop that’s about 2+ miles that is great to just take a run, ride a bike, or enjoy an easy stroll while taking in all the scenery.
Explore Maligne Lake
Maligne Lake is unbelievably beautiful. They offer boat tours and there is lots of hiking available. It’s a must do and if we ever visit again, we’ll be adding this to our list. Everyone raves about it and we’re excited to have another new adventure to experience when we return to the Jasper someday. (We were on a Tauck Bridges Family tour and this extra excursion didn’t fit into our timeline)
Observe the Starry Night Skies and Aurora Borealis
Jasper National Park is considered a Dark Sky Preserve. AWESOME! Be sure to look up and hope for clear nights so you can enjoy the millions of stars in the sky. If you are lucky, you’ll be able to witness the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.
Depending on when you visit there may be special Dark Sky events happening too so check out the dates and options. The Fairmont actually has the Jasper planetarium ONSITE at the hotel so you can spend the evening with local astronomy guides. The front desk also offers guests a “night sky” forecast so you’ll know your chances of spotting more stars or the amazing Northern Lights.
If you don’t have time for a giant hike but want to an opportunity to appreciate all the views from a higher altitude, be sure to ride the Jasper SkyTram to the top of the mountain. You can book tickets for the Jasper SkyTram here.