One of the most beautiful places to visit in Canada, there are impressive things to do in Jasper National Park all year round. The small alpine town of Jasper is home to 5,000 people and serves as a tremendous base to explore the encompassing national park.
Days are spent adventuring amongst the mountains, evenings enjoying the delicious Jasper restaurants, and nights in cozy cabins. The season doesn’t matter either, as every month of the year has plenty of ways to stay entertained.
You can rent a canoe in the summertime and paddle your way around one of the many mountain lakes after driving the stunning Icefields Parkway. In the winter in Jasper, you can enjoy a ski at Marmot Basin followed by hot cocoa by the fire. If you’re wondering what to do in Jasper, we have you covered.
Where is Jasper?
Before reading about what to do in Jasper, let’s review where exactly it is. Jasper National Park is the largest park in the Canadian Rocky mountains system. At 11,000 km2, it’s the size of some small countries. Jasper is located north of Banff and west of Edmonton.
The townsite of Jasper sits in the Athabasca River Valley, pretty much on the border of BC.
Is Jasper Worth Visiting?
Jasper is worth visiting both in the summer and winter! If you are already making a memorable trip to the Rockies to visit Banff, it’s well worth it to add a few days to your Banff itinerary and visit Jasper.
The lakes here are stunningly blue, the mammoth mountain peaks are inspiring, and there are plenty of fun Jasper attractions to enjoy, like the Jasper Skytram and Spirit Island Boat Cruise.
In the winter, great skiing and snowboarding can be had at Marmot Basin. You can’t go wrong with a sleigh ride on Pyramid Lake during Christmas.
How Far is Jasper From Banff?
Of course, when I say 3.5, that is without stopping, and you will definitely be stopping on one of the most beautiful drives in the world. I would plan for the drive to take you at least 5 hours, but plan for a full day if you decide to hit all the photo points and hikes along the way.
If you are wondering how to get to Jasper from elsewhere in Alberta, please see the “getting to Jasper” section at the bottom of this article.
The Best Things to do in Jasper
Drive The Icefields Parkway
It’s tough to think of a more iconic activity to do in Jasper than a drive or tour down the Icefields Parkway. The famed motorway is widely regarded as one of the most scenic roads in the world, and it has no shortage of jaw-dropping vistas, exciting stops, activities, and hikes.
Several of the activities and spots on the list below all occur off the Icefields Parkway. It would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Icefields Parkway before you arrive.
The road connects Jasper with Lake Louise and has many hikes, waterfalls, and stunning vistas. The Columbia Icefields Discovery Center and Athabasca Glacier are along the route, possibly the most accessible glacier in North America.
It is open all year round, except in cases of extreme weather that will cause avalanche closures. Come prepared for winter driving between November and April, as the road can be arduous and is often covered in ice. That said, it may be our favorite time to drive along the Parkway as the mountains look far more dramatic and the road is much quieter.
Columbia Icefield Skywalk
The Columbia Discovery Center offers several activities from its base, which includes the Icefield Skywalk. The Skywalk is a massive glass-floored walkway that sits 1,000 feet above the valley floor down below.
The view straight down through the walk’s glass floor to the Sunwapta River valley below will make you wish you’d brought your parachute.
Once you’ve bought your ticket, head to Glacier Discovery Center and hop on the shuttle bus, which will take you right to the Skywalk. It’s open from May to October and other day tours to nearby towns and attractions are available.
We’re a bit mixed on whether it’s worth the price of a ticket as it’s pretty easy to achieve the same views on a simple hike (try Parker Ridge nearby!). However, if you have the larger Pursuit Ultimate Explorer Pass it is included. That being said, the only experience we truly feel is worth paying for in the pass is the Lake Minnewanka cruise in Banff.
- Book Skywalk: Columbia Icefield Skywalk
- Book on Get Your Guide: Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure: Ice Explorer & Skywalk
- Book on Viator: Ice Explorer Glacier Tour and Glacier Skywalk Viator
- Book Glacier Walk: Guided Glacier Hike on The Athabasca with IceWalks
Built in 1964, the Jasper Skytram is the highest and longest tram in Canada. With a starting elevation of over 4,000 feet, the 10-minute trip to the top in the enclosed gondola will take you to over 7,500 feet, where you’ll be surrounded by magnificent views of the largely undisturbed Canadian Rockies, the town of Jasper, and the Athabasca River.
During the ride your tram conductor will point out landmarks and teach you about the area’s geology, history, and wildlife. Open from April until October, remember to dress accordingly, and bring a hat and mittens as the weather here can change quickly at the top.
Book Tickets For The Jasper Skytram
Hike to Whistlers Summit
The Jasper Skytram assists you for most of the way, but a 20-30 minute hike further will get you to the summit. You can even see Mount Robson on a clear day – the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies!
Scramble Indian Ridge
If Whistler’s Summit isn’t enough of a workout for you, then continue on to Indian Ridge. It’s one of our favorite Jasper scrambles! The Skytram Indian Ridge is another 12.7 km and 950+ meters of elevation gain, but it’s a beautiful hike with mild scrambling to reach the ridge.
If you have a few scrambles in the Rockies under your belt, it should be no problem to get onto the ridge. The views of Mount Robson get even better from the ridge!
While canyoning isn’t a popular activity in Banff, there are quite a few incredible canyons in Jasper visitors can enjoy. Orge Canyon, Morro Canyon, Pleckaitis Canyon, and Two Valley Canyon are all popular options varying in length and difficulty. You can book safe and fun canyoning excursions with Rocky Mountain Canyoning!
Take in the Views Via Helicopter
Jasper National Park is fabulous from all angles, but it’s imposing from the air. Book a helicopter tour with glaciers, blue lakes, and mountains from a new perspective.
Popular heli routes include Folding Mountain, the Valley of the Five Lakes, and Pyramid Mountain, or go in the Miette Mountain Ranges. Heli tours around Jasper are run by Remote Helicopters and start at $200 per person.
Warrior Women is made up by mother-daughter duo, Matricia and Mackenzie Brown. They perform songs written in both English and their native language, Cree. Their songwriting is beautiful yet harrowing and will give you a glimpse into Indigenous culture in Jasper.
Often their performances are accompanied by fireside chats, drumming, medicine walks, and singing performances. If you are looking for one of the best Indenigeous things to do in Jasper, check out the Warrior Women website!
White Water Raft
One of the best things you can do in Jasper in the summer is hop on a raft and enjoy a thrilling excursion on the Athabasca River. These guided multi-rapid run tours seat 8 people.
Rafting is great for those that want to take in the beautiful scenery from the river. It’s an excellent option for teens looking to get their adrenaline pumping.
If whitewater rafting doesn’t sound exactly for you, consider hopping on a float tour with Jasper Raft Tours! With a float tour you get all the awesome perks of rafting and canoeing, but without all the work and at a leisurely pace. There are even some dog friendly scenic float trips, so you don’t have to leave your furry pal at the hotel.
The tour we recommend most is “The Original.” On this one, you float down the same route used by fur traders at the turn of the century.
Take a Motorcycle Tour
When a company is endorsed by the Canadian Tourism Commission, you know they’ve been doing something right. Such is the case with Jasper Motorcycle Tours, which provides a unique experience unlike any other you’ll probably ever experience. If you’ve only ever driven vehicles with four wheels, don’t worry because you won’t be the one doing the driving.
The cost of your motorcycle tour covers a safe, experienced, and professional driver, and you’ll get to enjoy the stiff Canadian wind and breathtaking scenery from the relative safety of the sidecar or rear seat.
There are multiple tours you can book ranging in length. One of our favorites is the 3 hour tour. The tour will take you on nearly 100 kilometers of the Icefields Parkway, named one of the world’s 10 best drives by National Geographic. See here for pricing and booking information.
Some excellent mountain biking can be had in Jasper. There are mountain biking trails for every level of rider here. The Water Tower, Mina Lake, and Loni’s are some of the most popular. Beginners to advanced riders will be sure to find something to ride in the park.
If you are a beginner, booking a guided tour is probably best. Journey Bike Guides offer private tours for those interested. You can bring your own bike or rent one if you want to venture out. Here’s a great resource for mountain biking around Jasper. We also like to check Trailforks to get an idea of fun trails in the area.
Bike rentals are available at Journey Bike, Vicious Cycle, and Jasper Source. You can also rent bikes at The Boathouse at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge to bike near the Lac Beauvert area.
Ever thought about hopping on a horse and gallivanting off into the mountains? We have! Both Jasper Park Stables and Jasper Riding Stables offer horseback rides in the valley by the hour. You can get acquainted with your horse on a one-hour ride, or enjoy a three-hour ride through the mountains.
Due to its remoteness and overall lack of development, Jasper boasts impressive views of the stars, galaxies, and constellations often tricky to see in more urban areas.
If you’re an amateur stargazer or just prefer comfortable reclining seats to craning your neck or laying on the cold ground, then the Jasper Planetarium is one of the best things to do in Jasper that you won’t want to miss.
The planetarium’s trained guides will lead you on a virtual tour of the galaxy and explain a few of those mysteries of modern science, like the aurora borealis – or northern lights.
Boasting one of the largest telescopes in North America, you’ll get to peer through its massive lenses and gaze into impossibly distant worlds after the planetarium show.
Tour Mount Robson
Although not technically in Jasper, it’s pretty darn close! If mountains had resumes, you’d swear that Mount Robson’s was embellished. One of the best things to do near Jasper the summer is a hike around Mount Robson. Towering to just a tick shy of 13,000 feet, it’s the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and resides in one of Canada’s oldest parks – Mount Robson Provincial Park.
Paired with those statistics and its natural majesty, it’s impossible to miss the icon of Jasper that finds its way onto photographs and artists’ canvas more than the average mountain.
For experienced, fearless, and adequately equipped mountaineers, Emperor Face is the most challenging way to reach the summit on the mountain’s north side. Robson is well known in the mountaineering community here as a proving ground.
It’s also open to multi-day campers in the summer who want to hike around Berg Lake. Consisting of nearly 600 stunning, wildlife-packed acres, the park isn’t open all year, so check out their website for specifics. ** The Berg Lake Trail is closed for 2022, check updates here.
Take a Soak in Miette Hot Springs
About 60 km east of Jasper, Miette Hot Springs may not be the most accessible of all Jasper’s attractions. Still, if properly timed to coincide with other nearby activities, it’ll be the perfect place to soothe those bones weary from a long day of exercise and fresh air.
Bubbling from the earth at a piping 130°F, the water cools to about 100° before making its way into the pool.
Not only will the water relax you, but the dissolved minerals within have long been thought to have curative powers for those with skin, bone, and muscle ailments. Though initially built in the ’30s, the facilities have been upgraded, and there’s a swimming pool and restaurant on-site if you’d like to make a day of it.
Open from May to October – depending on the weather – the entrance fee is less than $10 for adults, making it a relatively cheap way to pamper yourself.
If you like getting two for the price of one, then visiting Jasper’s Sunwapta Falls is one of those things to do in Jasper that should be on your itinerary because it’s not just one, but a pair of waterfalls. Located inside Jasper National Park, you can reach them by an access road leading from the Icefields Parkway.
Due to the massive ice melt-off that occurs in spring, this is when the falls are at their most dramatic. But no matter when you go, you’ll be impressed by the falls, which drop over 60 feet. Of the two falls, the upper one is the more easily accessible of the two.
Maligne Canyon is another one of the things to do in Jasper that will keep you occupied and fulfilled, regardless of the season you visit. Carved slowly out of limestone over the years by the rushing waters within, the deep canyon walls reach nearly 200 feet in places, making it one of the most dramatic sights in Jasper National Park.
Though it freezes solid in Jasper in winter, it provides recreation for brave ice climbers; there are guided tours of the area’s frozen waterfalls and ice caves.
When the ice thaws in late spring and summer, the canyon area is a hot hiking spot due to its natural beauty and the sheer number of amazing and unique geological features you’ll find.
Guided tours are available, but you can also visit on your own, though visiting in the winter without a guide isn’t recommended for those not equipped for Canadian winters, as you’ll need microspikes to walk on the ice safely.
As one of the lowest – and therefore most easily crossed – passes in the Canadian Rockies, Yellowhead Pass has been taking travelers of all sorts across the Continental Divide for ages untold.
At 3,700 feet above sea level and located in Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park, this national historic site is one you should plan on checking out – especially since you’ll be in the two parks listed above visiting other places anyway.
According to legend, the pass was named after a golden-haired trapper who first crossed the pass in the early 19th Century, though the First Nation people were surely using it long before that. Though the pass’s traffic has steadily increased over the years, you’ll still get a glimpse of its original splendor, so check it out.
A great thing to do in Jasper in the winter or summer is to check out Athabasca Falls. Located about 32 km southeast of Downtown Jasper- with a drop of about 23 meters – Athabasca Falls isn’t a giant by waterfall standards, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t dramatic and majestic in its own right.
The volume of water that rushes over the edge is very high, making the upper Athabasca River roar – especially during the height of the thaw in late spring.
There are ample hiking trails to get you to viewing areas, allowing you to ogle the river and fall in all its glory. Don’t try to get closer to take a good picture. The ground and rocks are treacherous and slippery, and a fall into the frigid water and rocky canyon wouldn’t end well.
Climb Mount Athabasca
Maybe not everyone’s idea of fun things to do in Jasper, but for those seeking extra adventure. Mount Athabasca looms over one of the most popular attractions on the famed Icefields Parkway (Athabasca Glacier), but only a few get to see the view from the top.
To reach the summit requires a long hike to a technical glacier crossing and then up an exposed face or couloir. The views are breathtaking in more ways than one. You can spot countless glaciers, icefields, and many of Alberta’s highest peaks from the top.
The peak is one of many in the Canadian Rockies, famous for reaching 11,000 feet. Many climbers in the Rockies have the lifetime goal of summiting all 54 (58) peaks, which are considered classic mountaineering objectives. At 11,453 feet in elevation with a massive glacier and convenient location, Athabasca is a tremendous first “11,000er.”
You cannot attempt this on your own without mountaineering experience. It is a serious mountain. We did a three-day mountaineering course with Yamnuska and summited on the third day – the adventure was epic. This is probably not for everyone, but definitely one of the more adventurous things to do in Jasper.
Located in the Canadian Rockies – straddling the Continental Divide and border between British Columbia and Alberta – the Columbia Icefield is the largest in the Rocky Mountains. Part of the ice field resides in the southernmost portion of Jasper National Park. Its base is continually replenished each year with nearly 300 inches of snow, which turns into rock-hard ice through the thawing and compression processes.
The ice field covers nearly 125 square miles and can reach a depth of 1,000 feet in places. As you can imagine, it’s a treacherous place, but tours are offered – some of which are given in massive, six-wheel-drive behemoths that look like they’re out of a James Bond movie.
This is the best way for most visitors to experience a glacier and can be arranged at the Glacier Discovery Center. It all takes place on the Athabasca Glacier’s terminal end, but reaching its true center requires mountaineering experience or a helicopter tour. The Glacier Discovery Center has a restaurant, cafeteria, gift shop, exhibits, and lodging, too, if you’re inclined to spend the night.
- Book on Get Your Guide: Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure: Ice Explorer & Skywalk
- Book on Viator: Ice Explorer Glacier Tour and Glacier Skywalk Viator
- Book Glacier Walk: Guided Glacier Hike on The Athabasca with IceWalks
Visit the Historic Railway Station and Totem Pole
One of the best things to do in Jasper is visit the historic Train Station right near Downtown Jasper. It has plenty of history on the inside, with some interesting photos from the early days in Jasper.
The Canadian National Railway constructed the station in 1926 and declared a heritage railway station in 1992. Just outside the station is the Two Brothers Totem Pole, which replaced the famous Raven Totem Pole in 2011, and tells the story of the two brothers in a historical way. You can read all about that story at the totem pole.
Have a Picnic in Front of Edith Cavell
Head to Lac Beauvert and set up a picnic in front of the famed Edith Cavell. You can find beautiful spots with panoramic views all around the lake!
Evening Wildlife Tour
A great Jasper activity is a wildlife tour! Like animals everywhere, many of Jasper’s non-human residents prefer to come out in the evening to hunt and forage. What could be better than watching them and all the exciting things they do on a guided, moonlit tour.
Like the SS Minnow on Gilligan’s Island, it’s a three-hour tour, but instead of a skipper, this one will be guided by a local expert who knows pretty much all there is to know about the local fauna.
Though nothing is guaranteed, you may see grizzly bears, mountain goats, foxes, moose, and bobcats, to name a few. Tours are limited to 15 people, and as long as you’re staying in Jasper, they’ll even pick you up and drop you off after it’s done. The start times vary slightly depending on the season but are usually 4:30 or 5:30 PM.
Enjoy Maligne Lake
Maligne Lake is a glacial lake that is just a 45-minute drive from the town of Jasper. It’s easily one of the best places to visit in Jasper any time of year and one of the most serene lakes in all Canadian Rockies and prized for astounding natural splendor.
It’s well worth a visit for anyone visiting the Canadian Rockies and is a must-stop if you’re in Jasper for a few days. You canoe, paddleboard, kayak, or even take a motorboat out on it in the summer. Of course, you can also camp overnight near the beautiful Spirit Island mentioned below.
Boat or Canoe to Spirit Island
A great place to visit in Jasper is Spirit Island. As you may have guessed by its name, Spirit Island is a serene and revered place, especially to the area’s indigenous people. Due to its sacredness, the island is off-limits, but boat tours are available, which will take you close enough to appreciate its splendor.
For those who need more exertion and adventure to view the island by kayak or canoe, this option is only for the physically fit because the roundtrip is difficult to complete in a day.
There Jasper campsites nearby where you can book an overnight spot, breaking the trip into a day and a half and giving you a fantastic night in the wilderness.
Play a Round at Fairmont Jasper Park Golf Course
Conceived by a famous Canadian golf course designer, the renowned 18-hole course at Fairmont Jasper Park Golf Course incorporates all the twists, turns, vistas, and changes in elevation that diehard golfers have come to expect from world-class courses. On the Jasper to-do list of golf enthusiasts from all over, it’s been rated the #1 golf resort in Canada in past years.
Not surprisingly, the course isn’t open all year round; the greens fees also vary by season and day of the week. It’s not particularly expensive by exclusive course standards either, so check out their website for a visual tour, booking, fees, and tee-time information. It’s one of the things to do in Jasper that golfers should take advantage of.
Marvel at Medicine Lake
Medicine Lake is a fantastic thing to see in Jasper. Located about 26 km southeast of Jasper, Medicine Lake is in Jasper National Park. Though technically part of the Maligne River, it looks like a lake to the untrained eye, especially when it swells with water from the big thaw, which takes place in late spring and summer.
The area abounds with wildlife and is a favorite spot for hikers, bird watchers, and fishermen.
Ski at Marmot Basin
One of the best things to do in Jasper in the winter is ski at Marmot Basin! Marmot Basin is an alpine ski area less than 30 minutes drive away from Jasper. With 91 named runs on four mountain faces and 3,000 vertical feet of drop, it’s definitely one of the best ski resorts in all of Western Canada!
Wild Ice Skate
One of the best things to do in Jasper in winter is strap on a pair of skates for some ice skating and hockey on frozen lakes. I highly recommend renting a pair of skates and enjoying the beautiful wild ice setting.
Pyramid Lake and Patricia Lake are Jasper’s best lakes to skate on. It’s best to wait until December to ensure the ice is frozen over enough to skate on.
Ice should be at least 4 inches thick and can be measured with an ice screw. You can rent ice skates in town at Source for Sports!
Enjoy Dog Sledding
You won’t regret going Dog Sledding with Cold Fire Creek when visiting Jasper in the winter. Their team of dogs will take you effortlessly through the forest near the park. They have different tour routes geared for every visitor.
For families, they recommend their 60 minute musher tour, while others may want to enjoy the Moonshiners of Whiskey Creek or the Ghost of Cold Fire Creek.
Paddle on Lake Edith, Annette, and Beauvert
We spent many days in Jasper enjoying these three lakes. I would highly recommend bringing your own or renting a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard to enjoy these three lakes because they are amazing!
Edith, Annette, and Beauvert are all very close together, and you can easily enjoy all three in one day. My absolute favorite lake in Jasper is Lake Beauvert. It has some of the most transparent water I’ve ever seen and is insanely blue.
Pyramid Lake and Island
Heading to Pyramid Lake is another fantastic thing to do in Jasper. Pyramid Lake is close to the town of Jasper and is another great lake to enjoy. Bring the paddleboard, canoe, and kayak here and even take a jump in. I actually find Pyramid Lake much warmer than others in the Rockies.
Don’t miss Pyramid Island either. It’s a small island with a bridge to it. Try and catch it at sunrise or sunset for a wicked view.
Catch Sunset at Patricia Lake
Yup, another lake on this list of things to do in Jasper! This one is next to Pyramid Lake and is another good one to head for your summer needs.
Come here to enjoy the backdrop of Pyramid mountain, or go for a swim! With a national park license, you can even go fishing here. In the winter, it’s a popular place to snowshoe.
Go on a Jasper Food Tour
One of the best things to do in Jasper is cozy up at one of the many restaurants and bars in town in the winter. You could venture into them all independently, but I would highly recommend joining Estelle with Jasper Food Tours instead. You’ll have a much more local experience, complete with a walking history tour of Jasper as well.
I love doing food tours as you can get a sampling of many different restaurants in just a few short hours instead of having dinner at just one. The samplings with Jasper Food Tours are all paired with beer, wine, or a cocktail to make it even more fun. Come hungry – there is a lot of food on this one.
Food tours are fun, but you know what’s even more fun? Peak Nic! This is a 4km intermediate hike up to a mountain summit in Jasper, followed by a backcountry cooking lesson.
You’ll learn how to prepare beautiful gourmet meals in one of the prettiest areas of the world! Afterward you get to eat it all up before heading back down. You can book this once-in-a-lifetime experience with Jasper Food Tours.
Enjoy a Drink at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
The famous Fairmont Jasper sits right on Lake Beauvert and is ideal for enjoying a drink at sunset. It’s calming, quiet, and not crowded. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, you should definitely stop for a drink!
Climb Pyramid Mountain
Pyramid mountain towers over Jasper and is a beautiful sight to behold. If you’re up for a long day hiking, consider putting it on your list of things to do in Jasper! It’s a 31 km trail and over 1,580 meters of elevation gain – so it’s not for the faint of heart!
You should be experienced with long day hikes in the Rockies if you attempt this one. The good news is you can bike the first 11km cutting out a significant portion of time there and back.
Go for a Hike in Jasper
Jasper is full of great hiking opportunities. You have hike options for families and kids and then some tremendous scrambling options for those more familiar with hiking in the Rockies.
- Lake Annette Loop (Easy)
- Valley of Five Lakes (Easy)
- Edith Cavell Meadows (Moderate)
- Bald Hills (Moderate)
- Wilcox Pass (Moderate)
Jasper is a premier destination for some epic multi day backcountry trips. If your visit to Jasper allows you to enjoy a multi day hike, we highly recommend it. Though you’ll likely need to plan in advance as the campsites you’ll need to stay at book up fast in the high season. Two of the most famous backcountry trips in Jasper are the Tonquin Valley and The Skyline.
Tonquin Valley Trail
This is a 44km relocation hike with the highlight being the two Amethyst Lake. The trip can take as little as 2 days, but 3 or 4 is recommended. If you are a trail runner you can complete it one day. Try to aim for the months of August and September to complete this trip as the mosquitos are terrible in June and July.
The Skyline Trail
Another 2-4 day backcountry trip that is 44km with plenty of glacial lakes and glaciers along the way. You can see more information about it here.
Have a Beer at Jasper Brewing Company
Hands down, our favorite place to eat when in Jasper is the Jasper Brewing Company. Jasper Brewing Company was the first National Park Brewery in Canada. It opened in 2005, and after they are responsible for opening Banff Ave Brewing in Downtown Banff.
Three founders here are born and raised Jasper locals and created the space as a great community hub. Their beers are delicious, but I love their food. Everything here has been delicious. I highly recommend trying their Halloumi Bowl.
Ice Climb at Maligne Canyon, Tangle Falls, or Edge of the World
Rockaboo Mountain Adventures offers beginners with no experience the opportunity to ice climb in the winter. This fun, safe, thrilling adventure is great for anyone 12 and up. Ice climbing sites are either Tangle Falls, Edge of the World, or Maligne Canyon. If you have a preference, you can suggest when you book, but they typically decide the site based on weather. Often it’s the stunning Maligne Canyon.
This six-hour tour is excellent for those that have been around town for a few days in Jasper and looking for something unique to do in this winter mountain wonderland. All gear (boots, crampons, harnesses, axes, helmet) is included in the tour!
Enjoy Downtown Jasper
Honestly, one of my favorite things to do in Jasper is just to walk around town. The town of Jasper is charming and small, even smaller than nearby Banff (with far fewer people). There are plenty of restaurants, shops, and coffee shops to venture into and out of. I love the town vibe and enjoy coming here in the evening.
Sulphur Skyline Summit
The Sulphur Skyline is considered an awesome Jasper hike near the Miette Hot Springs. This trail is roughly 8 km long with over 600 meters of elevation gain.
The trail has some of the most expansive views in the area that end with a grand finale of 360-degree views. It’s a fantastic photography spot, and one of the best things to do in Jasper is soak in the Miette Hot Springs when you are finished with the trail.
Getting to Jasper
- Banff to Jasper: The drive between Jasper and Banff is 288 km (179 miles) along the Icefields Parkway. If you were to drive it without stops the route would take around 3.5 hours.
- Edmonton to Jasper: The route from Edmonton to Jasper will take around 3 four hours (365.0 km) via AB-16.
- Vancouver to Jasper: This is a long stretch that will take about 10 hours (868.8 km) via BC-5 N.
- Calgary to Jasper: There are a few ways to get from Calgary to Jasper, but the most direct will take 5 hours (413.3 km) via Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W and AB-93 N.
Train to Jasper
Unlike other Rockies destinations, it is possible to take the trail in Jasper! You can get to Jasper via train from both Edmonton and Vancouver.
- Via Rail: The trail from Edmonton to Jasper runs almost daily and takes 6.5 hours with a few stops. Though the schedule isn’t super convenient as most trains depart at midnight. This train is not a scenic train.
- Rocky Mountaineer: The Rocky Mountaineer runs scenic train journeys from Vancouver to Jasper. These routes are best for those looking for a multiple day tour, rather than those looking to get to Jasper quickly.
Bus to Jasper
There are a few bus options driving from Calgary to Jasper, Banff to Jasper, and Edmonton to Jasper.
- Brewster Express offers a pickup service from any hotel in Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, Kananaskis, or Calgary. They can help you conveniently plan your trip between the two destinations. Prices start at $38.50 CAD, but the price between Jasper and Banff is currently $120. Return tickets provide a discount.
- SunDog Tours also operates a one-way tour that begin at Banff, Lake Louise, or even Edmonton and drops off in Jasper. It’s a full-day tour with many stops along the way and includes a four-hour stop at the Athabasca Glacier. They also operate a direct route from Jasper to Banff, which is part of their Calgary Connector service. It’s a daily service that operates in the winter between October and April.
- Discover Banff Tours provides a coach shuttle service between Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise and Jasper. There are pick up points at certain hotels within each destination.
Do I Need a Parks Pass to Visit Jasper?
All visitors to Jasper need a Parks Canada Pass. You can get one at the park gates as you enter Jasper or buy one online beforehand. If you are visiting Banff and Jasper, getting a Parks Canada Discovery Pass is best.
Parks Canada day pass prices are as follows:
- Adult: $10.50
- Senior: $9
- Youth (up to 17): Free
- Family/group of 7 people: $21.00
- Day passes expire at 4 pm the following day.
A Parks Canada Discovery Pass gets you entrance to all Parks Canada destinations for the year is only $145.25 for a family.
Day passes are $10.50 per person, so depending on how many days you are staying and if you have plans to go many places in the Canadian National Parks system you may want to consider the Discover Pass. Discovery Pass fees are as follows:
- Adult: $72.25
- Senior: $61.75
- Family: $145.25
How Many Days Should I Stay in Jasper?
No visit to Jasper would be complete without spending at least three days in the park. Many readers tell us they visited for one day and felt it was too short. Of course, if you only have one spare day, it’s still worth driving on the Icefields Parkway and taking in the area’s beauty.
You’ll be able to get the general gist of Jasper and see plenty of places in three days, but for a good mix of seeing many sights and not feeling too rushed, I recommend 5-7 days.
Which is Better – Banff or Jasper?
Saying one is better than the other would not be fair to either park. Banff and Jasper provide different experiences, depending on what you are looking for in a trip. Banff is generally more touristy, with more accessible things to do, better restaurants, and more iconic hotels.
Jasper is less busy, with plenty of things to do in nature, and more opportunities for wildlife spotting. The downtown core of Jasper isn’t as exciting or picturesque as Banff, but it’s certainly far from ugly. We break down both towns in this article, but it’s best to visit both yourself!
Map of Things to Do in Jasper
The Best Places to Eat in Jasper
For Breakfast in Jasper Try These Restaurants:
- Coco’s Cafe: They’ve got all of the classics of a relaxed cafe such as bagels, oatmeal cinnamon waffles, breakfast burritos, breakfast bowls, and huevos rancheros.
- Harvest: Harvest Food & Drink serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner. It’s one of the newer restaurants in Jasper with a healthy menu.
- Bear’s Paw Bakery: Bear’s Paw Bakery is an institution in Jasper and just about every visitor to Jasper should pay the bakery a visit in the morning.
- Sunhouse Cafe: The bright and airy cafe with modern decor serves some mouth-watering coffee and food.
Dinner in Jasper Recommendations
- Jasper Brewing Company: They have fantastic craft beers and dinners that pair well with those beers. One of the best restaurants in Jasper
- Downstream: A downstairs bar with varying sandwiches, steaks, and chicken meals on the menu.
- The Raven: A small and intimate bistro perfect for special dinners from around the world.
- The Dead Dog: Fun and quirky bar and a locals favorite bar.
Where to Stay in Jasper National Park
One of the best places to stay in Jasper is the Fairmont Park Lodge. We enjoyed one of their Lakeview rooms for three nights and had a fantastic time. The Fairmont sits right on Lake Beauvert, which in my opinion, is one of the most stunning lakes I have seen in Jasper.
The Fairmont is comfortable and spread out. It’s not your standard hotel, but instead, there are plenty of individual cabins, so you can easily keep your distance from other guests. There’s a heated pool to enjoy in the winter and summer. They also have a boathouse where you can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards.
There are a few restaurants on-site, which are all delicious! Make sure to try Orso Trattoria for a nice night out.
Other Fantastic Places to Stay in Jasper
When is the Best Time to Visit Jasper?
If you’re looking for beautiful summer weather, the best time to visit Jasper is July and August. However, this is also the busiest time of the year (though nowhere near as busy as Banff), and you may have to deal with mosquitos, which are particularly bad around Jasper in June and July.
If crowds and high prices are not your things, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons. Early June and Late September are great times to visit. If you want to ski at Marmot Basin, enjoy the snow, and go snowshoeing, the best time to visit Jasper is between December and February!
Visiting Jasper in the winter? See all the best things to do there during the snowy months!
Hopefully this helped you determine which of these best things to do in Jasper is right for your vacation!
If you have any other questions leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, and everything else.
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Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. We recommend checking out Safetywing or HeyMondo offers competitive rates for all travelers.
- Hotels in the Rockies: There are many places to stay, from luxury hotels to wilderness cabins. See all our favorites here.
- Pack for the Rockies: See our complete Alberta packing list here.
- Get Around: We suggest either renting a car to get around, you can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip with companies like Outdoorsy or WickedCampers.
- Fly For Free: Turn your spending into airline miles and points with travel credit cards (that’s what we do!). See our favorite travel credit cards.