Best known for its magical peaks, wilderness, and wildlife - Jasper National Park is a true gem nestled in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
It's easily one of our favourite places to visit in Canada and it makes up part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As well as being a great city, the overall area of Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies.
Spanning an area of 11,000 square kilometres, it can be a large feat to navigate.
Especially when there are so many beautiful places in Jasper, just waiting to be explored.
So we decided to do all the hard work for you; pulling together the very best things to do in Jasper.
As well as offering useful tips & tricks based on our own visit to Jasper.
Let's get stuck in...
Jasper National Park is best accessed by having your own vehicle.
The main route to and from Jasper is the The Trans-Canada Highway (aka the Yellowhead Highway), which runs straight through Jasper.
All of the major roads in Jasper are paved although some, such as the Mt Edith Cavell road, can be trickier to navigate.
Some areas offer challenging gradients and tight hairpin bends so just keep that in mind.
Be sure to plan ahead when driving through Jasper National Park too! Take regular breaks and prepare for poor weather conditions.
You can check the road conditions in the area before you travel on the Canadian Government's website which is always a handy thing to do!
There are various agencies offering car rentals throughout Jasper, but our top recommendation would be to hire a camper (like us!).
This is one of the best travel tips we can give you as it makes planning your trip so much easier as you'll have complete flexibility over your itinerary.
For help finding the right one, check out our guide on the best campervan & RV rentals in Canada.
The airports nearest to Jasper National Park are Edmonton (370km), Calgary (404km), and Vancouver (805km).
All of these host International and national services, as well as car rental agencies.
We always use Skyscanner to help find the best combination of flight times & prices!
Via Rail provides a service from both Edmonton and Vancouver to Jasper National Park. And what a beautiful way to get to Jasper!
One day we dream of returning to Canada and seeing the entire country just by train.
Another way to let someone else do the driving, and still take in all the scenery of a road trip, is by going to Jasper via bus.
Sun Dog Tours offer a bus service from Calgary Airport or Edmonton Airport to Jasper. They are also possibly the biggest and most trusted tour company in Jasper, so are definitely worth checking out.
The most popular and easiest way to get around Jasper is by car.
Vehicles can be rented from downtown Jasper, or from the closest international airports - Edmonton and Calgary.
You can often find the best deals on Rental Cars so make sure you shop around first...
For finding the perfect RV/campervan, do a search on Motorhome Republic!
Like with car rentals, you can find some fantastic motorhome rentals in Calgary which is where people often fly too, or Edmonton has some great RV rentals too.
You can get taxis in downtown Jasper from Mr Taxi and Tours and Caribou Cabs.
Remember that taxi fares can soon add up! And you might have to wait a long time for a taxi if you’re in a remote area of Jasper!
For heading out on trips from Jasper, you are probably better off using a tour operator for the day than taxis.
The most central place to stay is Downton Jasper. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops in this area.
There are also lots of car rental agencies in Downton Jasper so, it's a great base to easily explore the mountains of Jasper National Park.
Here are my top recommendations:
Park Lodge has often been branded as the ‘best hotel in Jasper’ and it's not hard to see why!
It offers a truly luxury stay in downtown Jasper, and celebrated its 100th birthday in June 2022 so it's got lots of history.
Boasting gorgeous rooms, fantastic facilities, and a great location - this is the perfect option if you're looking to splash the cash.
Mount Robson Inn offers a variety of cozy accommodation options ranging from Queen Rooms to Junior Suites.
There are two outdoor hot tubs for you to relax in during your stay, and there's also an on-site restaurant.
Not only that but there's a tour desk at the property and they offer a seasonal ski shuttle service!
If you’re travelling to Jasper on a shoestring, or you're a solo traveller keen to meet others then this hostel is a great option!
They offer both private rooms and dorm beds for great prices and you'll have access to plenty of amenities too. This includes a shared kitchen, lounge area, laundry facilities, and free WiFi.
Wild camping is not allowed in Canadian National Parks.
Camping is only permitted in designated campsites in Jasper National Park.
However, you’ll need to book well in advance when camping in Jasper as campsites fill up quickly - especially in the spring and summer months.
We stayed at the Whistlers campsite and it was great! Clean facilities, free firewood, and a decent-sized plot.
You can even take the walking path into downtown Jasper from the campground, which we did a couple of times!
You just have to be cautious of wild animals, and remember to take your bear bell and spray with you.
Looking for the absolutely BEST thing to do in Jasper?
You've found it!
A helicopter tour with Remote Helicopters will take you up in the air with epic views of the Rocky mountains.
AND you can opt to land on Folding mountain for a picnic, and more fantastic views.
Brad and I did this, and it was truly one of the most beautiful flights of our lives.
Whether you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or just life, you should put this experience high on your Canada bucket list.
They do a range of different tours, starting from a 20 minute flight, all the way up to an epic 90 minute flight of Mt. Robson (the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies).
Helicopter tours depart from Jasper Hinton airport, which is around 70km from Jasper town.
There is free parking on site too which is always handy!
Prices start at $199 + tax per person, which I think is a great deal as it's truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you're a fan of helicopter rides then there's an awesome one that you can do over Toronto too!
One of the most popular Jasper acttractions has to be the iconic Jasper Sky Tram!
Reaching heights of 2263m, this is the highest and longest guided aerial tramway in Canada.
The SkyTram first opened in 1964, and since then has taken 6 million visitors to see some of the best views in Jasper.
Cabin operators will teach you about the cultural heritage and geology of the area as you head up into the clouds.
Once you're at the summit, there’s also great access to hiking trails.
This alpine zone of the Canadian Rockies is a great area to find amazing wildlife such as bighorn sheep, ground sirens and pikas.
You can also hike to the peak of Whistlers Mountain at 2464m and see panoramic views of 6 different mountain ranges.
The SkyTram operates daily from 8am to 9pm, but early morning or evening flights are recommended to avoid crowds.
It's also best to book your Jasper SkyTram tickets online in advance to avoid disappointment and queues.
At 232km the Icefields Parkway may not be particularly long, but it's one of the most spectacular driving routes in the world.
The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) links Banff National Park to Jasper National Park and takes in an abundance of stunning mountain peaks, mesmerizing turquoise lakes and over 100 glaciers.
Including the Athabasca Glacier which you can walk on!
The Icefield Parkway drive takes around 3 hours altogether but make sure you allow plenty of extra time to take in all the sights.
The Columbia Icefield is around half way along the Icefields Parkway. This is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies.
If you are planning to drive the Icefields Parkway, here are some tips based on our experience:
Driving this scenic route is undoubtedly one of the best thing to do in Jasper for FREE so make sure you add it to your itinerary!
Although wild camping is not permitted in the Canadian Rockies or in any Canadian national parks, there are lots of campsites you can stay at throughout Jasper National Park.
Camping in Jasper is a great way to experience the solitude and isolation of the mountains, and also really experience the true ruggedness of the landscape.
We really enjoyed our stay at Whistlers campsite (which is the largest), but if you're looking for a more rustic setting, check out Wapiti campground.
Hiking is one of the great free things to do in Jasper, and there are hundreds of hiking trails for you to enjoy.
For more information you should check out Hike Jasper as they have detailed information on each of the hikes!
The Athabasca River starts in the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park. It flows 765 miles before emptying into Lake Athabasca.
Water rafting is a popular activity here, and there are options for both the thrill seekers and the homebodies.
A great way to enjoy this exhilarating activity, especially as a beginner, is to take part in a whitewater rafting tour.
As you raft down this Canadian Heritage river, you’ll be treated to epic panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies.
The guides on these tours are also fountains of information about the local history of the area.
The guys at Jasper Raft Tours offer a variety of tours, and we opted for a scenic raft trip. (It's dog friendly too!)
This was a beautiful way to enjoy the surrounding beauty of Jasper, and we still got some cool rapids!
Our guide was super knowledgeable, and we found the experience super relaxing and a great way to just enjoy nature.
If you're wondering what to do in Jasper then this is one of the best activities that you take part in!
The unique kidney-shaped Pyramid lake is one of the best places to visit in Jasper. It’s really easy to access, found only 5km from downtown Jasper.
You can drive here, or it's well connected by bike trails and paths. You could even run from downtown Jasper to Pyramid lake if that’s your thing!
The lake sits in the shadow of Pyramid mountain, making it an incredible sight and a must-see in Jasper. It’s also a favourite with the locals!
Hiking up pyramid mountain is a popular activity in the summer, but you could easily spend a whole day at Pyramid Lake alone as there’s so much to do here.
In summer Pyramid Lake is popular with fishermen too!
But if you prefer something more adventurous, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and canoeing are all popular activities here!
A lot of the lakes in the Canadian Rockies don’t often reach temperatures warm enough to swim in, however in the summer Pyramid Lake does!
Swimming here certainly isn’t something to do in Jasper in the winter though…
From one extreme to the other Pyramid Lake completely freezes over in the winter! So you can skate on it - although make sure to check the thickness of the ice to determine how safe this is.
Pyramid Lake Resort has a section dedicated to ice skating on the lake in December, so do your research before you go!
Pyramid Island is a small island found on Pyramid Lake which you can access by either walking along a small bridge from the mainland, or you can paddle or kayak here.
Spirit Island is a tiny island found in the middle of Maligne Lake, and lots of boat trips venture across the lake to reach the island.
The Island is surrounded by the same mountain range on three sides, which is very rare.
This makes it an important and spiritual place for the Stoney Nakoda First Nations, who believe that the mountains are physical representations of their ancestors.
The island lies 8.7 miles from the Maligne Lake docks and can only be accessed by boat.
If you were planning on paddling by canoe or kayak, allow yourself half a day to reach Spirit Island!
Maligne Lake and Spirit Island create a picture perfect image, one that many travellers associate with the Canadian Rockies.
In fact, the idyllic location is so picture perfect that Apple used an image of Spirit Island to showcase how great the camera was on their new 2014 iPad.
A great way to experience this area of Jasper is to join a tour which encompasses the Maligne Valley & Canyon, Medicine Lake and Spirit Island.
Visiting this gorgeous place is one of the best things to do in Jasper National Park so don't leave it off your itinerary!
Book your Maligne Lake tour here!
Downtown Jasper is the commercial centre of Jasper National Park.
This is the ideal place to enjoy some food and retail therapy, and you'll find plenty of interesting local attractions in this area!
Some of the best things to do in Downtown Japser are:
For more information on things to do in Downtown Jasper you can check out this website.
The Miette Hot Springs are definitely one of the best attractions in Jasper, as they are the hottest springs in the Canadian Rockies.
The water flows from the mountain at a searing 54C, but is cooled to a more comfortable 40C when it enters the pools.
This water is also full of all sorts of wonderful minerals, the top 5 being sulphate, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium and sodium.
And if the temperatures and the minerals weren’t enough, the beautiful mountain location makes the Miette Hot Springs even more of a must-see in Jasper National Park.
Basking in warm natural waters, with panoramic views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains all around you - what more could you ask for?!
They’re open 12pm-8pm daily, and reservations aren’t available so it's first come first served.
There is no bus route to Miette Hot Springs so you’ll need a car to get there. However, the drive through Fiddle Valley to get here is a stunning one!
Miette Hot Springs are located 61km east of downtown Jasper.
At some points, the Maligne Canyon has a depth of more than 50 metres, making it the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park.
It’s a great place to marvel at some more breathtaking scenery, and also do a bit of hiking.
There are six bridges built across various parts of the canyon, meaning it’s accessible to any hiker, regardless of their ability.
The second bridge stands over 50 metres above the water, at the highest point of the canyon.
If you’re a fan of waterfalls and want to get a good shot of one, then head to the third bridge where there’s an excellent photo opportunity.
Winter is an incredible time to visit the Maligne Canyon, as you can join an Icewalk tour to walk along the canyon's frozen ‘floor’.
Located just 10 minutes from Jasper town or 5 minutes from Jasper Park Lodge, it's an easy place to get to!
If you aren’t touring Jasper with a car, then join a tour which visits Maligne Canyon instead.
Either way, this place is one of the best things to see in Jasper so make sure you check it out!
As the name suggests, this hiking route passes by five lakes - five very blue lakes!
The Valley of the 5 Lakes consists of two larger and three smaller lakes, and they vary in colour as they’re all different depths.
The hiking distance of the Valley of the 5 Lakes is 4.5km and you can complete it in around 1.5 to 2 hours.
The lakes are well sign posted on the route - ‘first lake’, ‘second lake’ etc too so it's not a difficult route to get your head around.
One of the most iconic photo opportunities of the trip lies between lakes 3 and 4. There’s a pair of red chairs overlooking the lake, so take a moment to catch your breath, take in the view and grab a photo.
If you're looking to up your photography game then why not check out our top travel photography tips...
It’s best to tackle this hike in the spring, when there's no snow around. However, you’ll see more water in the lakes if you visit in early summer.
Just make sure you're equipped with some proper hiking shoes for this trail as there are a few hills and some exposed tree roots on the paths.
There's a small chance of seeing bears on this hike too, so make sure you carry a bear bell and bear spray. We actually DID see a bear and a baby!
You can find more information about the Valley of the Five Lakes Trail here...
Athabasca Falls are arguably the best known in Jasper National Park. At 24m high and 30m the waterfall isn’t known for its width or height but more so for its force!
The huge volumes of water cascading into the gorge below make Athabasca falls the most powerful in the Canadian Rockies.
The waterfall is found just off the Icefields Parkway. Travelling south from Jasper there will be a turning to Highway 93A, then a short distance up this road there’s a car park for Athabasca Falls.
These falls are signposted on the main highway so it's not a hard place to find.
Sunwapta Falls are just under an hour from Jasper, and around 30 minutes north of the Columbia Icefield.
As you travel south from Jasper down the Icefields Parkway, after around 55km there is a right turn for Sunwapta Falls Resort. At the end of a 600m access road you’ll find the car park for Sunwapta Falls.
Sunwapta Falls is made up of the upper falls and the lower falls. Most visitors stay at the upper falls but there is a short 1km hike to reach the lower falls.
Another of the many waterfall stops on the Icefield Parkway is Tangle Creek Falls. These impressive multi-tiered waterfalls have 4 drops altogether.
Tangle Creek Falls is really easy to find. It’s right by the road, so no hike is needed to access them. In fact they’re so close to the road that the car park has to be on the opposite side - so take care when crossing!
You can simply see these waterfalls in all their glory from the roadside.
These waterfalls are magnificent but if you're planning to do a cross-country trip around Canada then make sure the iconic Niagara Falls are included on your itinerary too!
Also, there are plenty of other scenic waterfalls in Jasper that you can visit if you wish...
The Athabasca Glacier is thought to be North America’s most visited glacier.
The vast Athabasca glacier covers an area of approximately 6 square kilometres, and is between 90 and 300 metres thick. It is also referred to as being one of the six main ‘toes’ of the Columbia Icefield.
It’s very easy to access the Athabasca Glacier, making it a very popular stop in Jasper National Park.
The glacier is reached by following the Icefields Parkway to the Columbia Discovery Centre, which is around an hour and a half from Jasper.
Ice Walks on the Athabasca Glacier operate from the Columbia Icefield car park, and offer the unique opportunity to walk across the glacier.
Don't forget to taste the fresh water during your time here either!
No list of things to do in Jasper would be complete without taking a walk on the Columbia Icefield Skywalk.
This 1km long cliff-edge walkway takes you to a glass-floor viewing platform, 280m above the Sunwapta Valley.
Here you can get the best seat in the house to admire a truly mind blowing view of the Columbia Icefield and Sunwapta Valley.
In all honesty, it's quite unnerving to walk across as you'll get to see right to the valley floor if you look down to your feet!
However, the views make this experience 100% worth it so it's not an attraction that you want to miss.
Now you can't spend all this time in the mountains without seeing some mountain goats, so Goats and Glacier Lookout Point is the place to go!
Not only do you get great views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and the Athabasca River, but it's a great place to spy on the mountain goats.
Sometimes this lookout is referred to as Goat Lick, or Salt Lick, as it is where the goats come down to lick salt off the rocks.
The lookout is easy to access. Just follow the signs to ‘Goat Lick Viewpoint’, or ‘Goats and Glaciers’ as you travel down the 93 / Icefields Parkway.
There’s some toilets and a small picnic area at the lookout, so it’s a nice place to stop on your road trip through Jasper.
The weather in Jasper is best during July and August with average highs of 22°C. There is generally less rainfall during these months too.
However March through to May and September through to November are two of the best periods to visit Jasper National Park. Despite the greater risk of inclement weather, the crowds are smaller during these periods.
The coldest months of the year are January and February, with highs of -5°C and -1°C, and lows of -15°C and -12°C, respectively.
There is so much to see in Jasper National Park, that even 2 weeks wouldn’t be enough to take it all in.
However, you could spend 3 to 4 days there and still experience some of the best things to do in Jasper.
We spent 4 nights, and honesty felt like that wasn't even enough time to do it all, but we certainly got to do some highlights!
There are endless attractions and activities that you can do in Jasper so your budget is going to depend on how much you've got planned!
For starters you'll need to pay the national park permit which is $10.50 per adult per day (as of 2022), or you can purchase a Parks Canada Discovery Pass which might save you money in the long run.
Generally, you'll want to allow a budget of around $90-130 per day although this will vary based on how much you choose to do...
There are so many other fun activities in Jasper, and lots of tours you can take part in to experience some of the best scenery, wildlife and activities that Jasper National Park has to offer.
There really is something for everyone in Jasper!
Banff National Park was Canada’s first national park, dating back to 1885, and is home to amazing turquoise lakes such as Moraine Lake, Lake Louise and Peyto Lake.
It is 288km from Jasper to Banff, a drive which takes around 3 hours.
The drive from Jasper to Banff is a spectacular one, and a journey certainly worth making if you’re touring the Canadian Rockies.
The mountain paradise of Revelstoke lies 458km from Jasper.
If you're a fan of national parks then I'd recommend heading to Ontario too as can head to Bruce Peninsula, Pukaskwa, and Thousand Islands National Park.
Feeling inspired to visit Jasper National Park?
We hope you are!
Let us know in the comments what your favourite spots in Jasper are, we’d love to hear about it!
Jasper is an amazing area, showcasing some of the best Canadian landscapes, mountains and wildlife, but there are so many other places to explore in Canada.
Just remember to book your Jasper SkyTram tickets online in advance because you don't want to miss out on this activity!
If you're planning to explore more of this incredible country then here are some other guides that you may find helpful:
Leave a comment
Let us know what you think!