We’ve made countless visits to this stunning town to bring you our comprehensive travel guide to the best things to do in Jasper, Canada!
If you’re after a quintessential Canadian postcard-worthy adventure look no further than the small and stunning town of Jasper, Alberta.
Sitting pretty in a valley of the Canadian Rockies, Jasper gives you that feeling of being thrown into a painting.
No matter where you look there are snow-capped mountains, and usually a lake or two, to marvel at.
Located at the end of the Icefields Parkway (aka Highway 93) from Lake Louise, you’ll find yourself in awe of the incredible peaks as you drive through the sensational Rockies.
Often overshadowed by its more famous cousin to the south, Banff National Park, Jasper offers more of a laidback vibe but still boasts the huge amount of adventure the region is known for.
But both Jasper National Park and Banff National Park are two of the most stunning national parks in North America.
The entire Jasper National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you will find there are plenty of amazing things to do in Jasper!
Table of Contents
- The Best Things to Do in Jasper
- 1) Hop on the Jasper SkyTram
- 2) Marvel at Maligne Canyon
- 3) Float on Maligne Lake
- 4) Visit Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Mountain
- 5) Explore the Valley of the 5 Lakes
- 6) Get Your Steps in at Old Fort Point
- 7) Go Mountain Biking on the Trails
- 8) Hike on the Athabasca Glacier
- 9) Feel the Spray at Athabasca Falls
- 10) Hike And Soak at the Sulphur Skyline
- 11) Hit the Rapids of Jasper’s Rivers
- 12) Stroll Around Lac Beauvert
- 13) Stare in Amazement at Mount Edith Cavell
- 14) Shred the Slopes at Marmot Basin
- 15) Get Interstellar in the Park
- 16) Glide on Top of the lakes
- 17) Drive the Icefields Parkway
- Jasper Alberta Mini Travel Guide
- Best Accommodation – Where to Stay in Jasper
- Best Restaurants in Jasper, Canada
The Best Things to Do in Jasper
With a population of just over 5,000, even those who visit Jasper will get that hometown feeling when they step foot into the main town centre.
While the town itself is relatively small, Jasper National Park is massive. At almost 11 000 km², it’s one of the best national parks in Canada that is full of incredible places to explore.
With that much ground to cover in Jasper National Park, you’ll be sure to find something to please even the pickiest of travellers on your visit.
Maybe you’re visiting Jasper in the colder months for skiing, skating, snowboarding or snowshoeing in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Or maybe you’re planning a trip for the warmer months for hiking, biking, rock climbing or whitewater rafting one of the many rivers.
From Maligne Lake, to Athabasca Falls, to all the wildlife, hot springs, mountains, hiking trails, and more, here are some of the best things to do when you visit Jasper National Park!
The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.
1) Hop on the Jasper SkyTram
The Jasper SkyTram is always at the top of any list of what to do in Jasper, and rightfully so.
Where else can you get some of the best views of the area with very little effort?
And while it can be quite busy during the summer months, it is so worth it!
The highest and longest aerial tramway in Canada, the Jasper SkyTram was built in 1964 and will take you nearly 2,300 meters above sea level.
There you’ll find out what the fuss is all about.
The views from the top are spectacular. From Whistler’s Mountain in all her glory to the townsite below looking as small as a lego village, you’ll start to understand why everybody who visits Jasper comes up here.
If you fancy a bit more adventure or want to save the cost of a Jasper SkyTram ticket you can also hike up the Whistler summit trail.
This option isn’t for everyone but the view as your reward (and extra dollars in your wallet for a cold beer later) is more than worth it.
Keep your eyes peeled for adorable marmots who are quite curious and used to people. They seem to pose when you pull your camera out!
2) Marvel at Maligne Canyon
One of the best things to do in Jasper in winter or summer is to visit Maligne Canyon.
This slot canyon measures 50 meters deep and fills with rushing water during spring and summer. There the water can be heard before you even see the canyon itself.
There are a series of trails around the canyon that will allow you to see right down into the turquoise waters below.
The trails are well marked and there are quite a few bridges with beautiful springs below (5th and 6th bridge are the best spots to see this).
While the water moves quickly in the warmer months, the cold temperatures of a Jasper winter freeze it solid enough to allow ice climbers to take on the walls of the canyon.
For something a little more family-friendly, the Icewalk down into the canyon is a fun activity in Jasper National Park.
Covering just over 4 km, trusted guides will take you down into the frozen canyon to explore the icy and impressive terrain.
3) Float on Maligne Lake
When it comes to Jasper sightseeing, there is hardly a better place to do it than at Maligne Lake.
Having been to Jasper National Park about 6 times already, Maligne Lake is always one of our first recommendations and we make sure we get out there at least once each time we visit.
Famous for its incredible turquoise coloured water and views of Spirit Island, Maligne Lake might just be the most photographed location in the park.
It’s also the perfect place to head before/after a trip to Maligne Canyon too!
The scenic drive from Jasper out to Maligne Lake, totalling 46 km of sheer beauty, is full of wildlife, especially in the mornings, and the lake views along the way are gorgeous.
Once you get to Maligne Lake there are activities galore.
Choose to go for a nice hike on one of the lakeside trails or have a picnic along the shores of Maligne Lake.
If the weather permits, book a boat trip on the lake!
Exploring Maligne Lake is definitely one of the best Jasper activities on a beautiful day, so either book ahead to make sure you get a spot or try your luck on arrival at the pier.
Sit in comfort as you glide on top of the water and get a whole new perspective of the famous Maligne Lake that exists on about a thousand postcards of Canada.
Feeling more active though? Head down to the Maligne Lake Boat House and grab a traditional canoe for some good ol’ fashion Canadian paddling.
Medicine Lake is another stunning spot in the Canadian Rockies on the way to Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park. As a very shallow lake in the Maligne Valley, Medicine Lake sometimes dries up, so it’s best to visit after lots of rainfall.
READ MORE: Hit the best hiking trails in Banff National Park.
4) Visit Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Mountain
There’s no shortage of beautiful lakes and mountains in Jasper National Park.
It almost feels like you could throw a stone in any direction and land in a shimmering blue body of water.
But if you had to choose one, which lake should you check out?
We personally recommend heading out to Pyramid Lake, just 10 minutes from town.
With the iconic Pyramid Mountain soaring above it, this picturesque lake is one of the best places to watch sunrise in Jasper.
Pyramid Island is a tiny little island that can be accessed via the foot bridge as well, and it’s worth wandering over while you’re in the area.
You can summit Pyramid Mountain but this trail is not for the faint of heart. At over 32 km and an elevation gain of 2 687 km, don’t let that discourage you as there are still quite a few trails around the lake with the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop.
Enjoy a paddle out in a canoe or kayak. Or even rent a stand-up paddleboard to tour the lake from the resort on the lake’s edge.
When Pyramid Lake freezes your options for activities in Jasper National Park extend to snowshoeing and ice skating as well as the multiple cross country skiing runs that exist here too.
5) Explore the Valley of the 5 Lakes
Visiting Jasper in the heart of the summer can be slightly overwhelming with all the things to do and tourist numbers.
So whenever someone asks where they can go to get off the beaten track a little I will always recommend my favourite place.
This place just so happens to be one of the best things to do in Jasper as well, and one of the most beautiful.
Hiking the Valley of the 5 Lakes trails you will be gifted with the most spectacular turquoise glacial lakes you could have ever imagined.
And as the name states, there are 5 lakes to marvel at.
A 4.5 km loop circuit, this series of trails will take you through beautiful thick wooded areas with a small section of boulders.
But it is accessible even in winter.
Considered one of Canada’s natural wonders, these lakes are given their colour thanks to a mix of special algae in the lake along with glacial rock dust.
They have a range of colours within depending on the angle you look at them.
This place is always one of my top recommendations for things to do in Jasper to anyone who asks.
6) Get Your Steps in at Old Fort Point
If you’re wondering what to do in Jasper National Park if you’re on a time crunch, Old Fort Point loop trail is where it’s at!
This trail/viewpoint is a relatively quick trip to the top. But don’t let the lack of time on the trail deter you.
One of the best views in Jasper National Park is from the summit of Old Fort Point.
The trail can be reached via Jasper Park Lodge or Jasper townsite and is actually connected to several other hiking trails in the area, including Valley of the Five Lakes.
Whether you walk in from the Jasper Park Lodge property or drive in from town you’ll start off at a parking lot which is at the base of some steep wooden steps.
Those will take you up towards the ridge where you’ll quickly see what all the fuss is about in terms of views.
Follow the ridge while keeping an eye out for brave mountain goats hanging out on the edges of the cliffs.
You will see even braver thrill-seekers in rafts on the Athabasca River below.
This is a perfect trail for those looking to get in some cardio or enjoy a nice view in Jasper National Park.
Also, should you be visiting over Canada Day this is a great spot to watch the fireworks too!
7) Go Mountain Biking on the Trails
Jasper has one of the best mountain bike trail networks in the Canadian Rockies, and you can find all types of terrain here.
From cruisy, paved paths and mellow single tracks right through to extreme double black downhill, there’s literally something for all your mountain biking desires.
If you don’t have your own bike, hit up the guys at the Bench Bike Shop on Patricia Ave.
They have the best selection of mountain bikes rentals in Jasper, including proper downhill bikes if that’s your thing, and the team running it are knowledgable and passionate about mountain biking in Jasper.
They also have a great selection of parts and accessories and do repairs if you need a service on your own bike.
They’ll give you a map and recommendations of which trails to hit, or if you’re already pretty well versed in mountain biking then make sure you have the Trail Forks app and head on out.
We personally rode about 27km in an afternoon around Jasper, sticking to the main trails and lakes, and loved it.
8) Hike on the Athabasca Glacier
When it comes to unique Jasper National Park sightseeing, there is no better place than the Columbia Icefield.
The largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies, chances are you’ve already seen part of it when driving the Icefields Parkway to get to Jasper.
At 325 square kilometres in area, the icefield has depths up to 360 meters, which is deeper than the Eiffel Tower is tall!
Climbers and mountaineers access the Columbia Icefield by trekking or summiting the surrounding mountains, but the trails are extreme and advanced.
That doesn’t mean getting on the ice is out of reach for the average person though. All you need to do is book a tour and hike on the Athabasca Glaicer for this once in a lifetime activity!
One of the 6 principal toes of the Icefield, the Athabasca Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in North America. So why not get out there and see it for yourself?
With a guide, you’ll be taken out onto the glacier in this massive bus that will take visitors out to experience it up close and personal.
The tour companies will also fit guests out with crampons for their boots as it is a giant icefield after all, aka pretty slippery!
For a truly unique adventure you can even abseil into the glacier. This is only possible with the guys at Rockaboo Mountain Adventures, and we did it with them last time we were in Jasper.
If you would rather keep your feet off the ice, then you have the option to visit the Columbia Icefield Skywalk.
A 1km long walkway leads you towards a glass floor platform 280m above the Sunwapta Valley with awe-inspiring views of the Rocky Mountains.
The Columbia Icefield Skywalk is not only a fantastic viewpoint but also a great place to learn more about the history, wildlife and culture of this part of Jasper in an interpretive way.
Visiting the ice fields should definitely be on everyone’s list of what to see in Jasper National Park.
9) Feel the Spray at Athabasca Falls
With a drop of 84 ft and coming in at 60 ft wide, these falls are some of the most impressive in Jasper National Park.
While you can raft on the Athabasca River you won’t get close to the falls (for obvious safety reasons) in the boat.
But you can see them from multiple viewing platforms nearby.
The falls themselves aren’t the highest in the world. But the sheer force and amount of water churning over the edge is pretty unbelievable!
And if you visit on a day where it’s even just a little windy you may leave less dry than when you arrived.
The river itself falls over a massive ledge of quartzite into a gorge and many rock potholes below.
All of this is mesmerizing as it stands. But the colour of the water really take it over the top!
After seeing them for yourself you’ll be telling everyone you know that this is definitely one of the best things to see in Jasper National Park.
10) Hike And Soak at the Sulphur Skyline
This trail will require a car to get to the trailhead, as it is 40km outside of Jasper townsite.
But it is still in Jasper National Park and well worth the drive.
You’ll find yourself parking up at the Miette Hot Springs, which means you get 2 of the top things to do in Jasper in the same place!
This hike is known to be quite difficult. But with the right amount of preparation of food, water, proper footwear and clothing it’s a great trail for everyone.
At 8km (return), you’ll have lots of time to take in the views as you head up a steep incline to the ridge.
And you’ll be able to follow well-signed trails to the summit.
The weather can change so quickly as you go up in elevation so be prepared that if you leave the car on a hot sunny morning you could be greeted with snow and wind at some stage.
With achy legs and feet, this is where you’ll be glad to see the Miette Hot springs, an iconic Jasper attraction, as you make your descent.
Miette Hot Springs are the hottest hot springs in the Canadian Rockies and the perfect place to soak in even when the snow starts to fall.
READ MORE: Don’t miss our guide to all the best things to do in Canada!
11) Hit the Rapids of Jasper’s Rivers
Chances are you’ll cover a ton of Jasper on foot. So why not rest your weary legs and grab an oar for a whitewater rafting adventure on one of the many rivers in Jasper National Park?
Whatever option you choose you’ll be well taken care of by local and experienced guides who will show you the ropes along the way and keep everyone on the edge of their seats, and in the boat.
This is one of the best ways to tick off a few things on your list of things to see in Jasper.
You will likely also be blessed with incredible views of wildlife while on the river and, of course, the surrounding scenery of Jasper National Park is never a disappointment.
12) Stroll Around Lac Beauvert
While the lake sits at the edge of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge resort, the trails around the lake, and the lake itself are open to the public.
Even when the lake freezes you’ll find it becomes a popular spot for locals and visitors to get out and try ice skating or
In the winter you’ll find visitors and locals alike lacing up their skates for a spin out on the lake.
Then spend the rest of the day warming up in the resort’s cafe lounge or at the mobile hot chocolate cart the resort offers.
When the snow melts and the trails thaw out, you’ll find a beautiful loop trail around the lake with amazing views of the turquoise lake and panoramic mountain views.
Opt for a leisurely stroll around. Or rent a boat from the resort’s boathouse to get a new perspective of the lake from the middle.
While this option may be overlooked by some as a thing to do in Jasper it really is too beautiful a place to miss out on.
13) Stare in Amazement at Mount Edith Cavell
The most prominent peak entirely within the province of Alberta, Mount Edith Cavell is a sight in Jasper not to be missed.
There are a few hiking trails here to choose from. One of the most popular is the Cavell Meadows Hike.
The Cavell Meadows hike is 8.5km with an elevation gain of 500m and has spectacular views of the iconic and equally as impressive Angel Glacier.
Because of the humid environment of the area during late July and early August there are the most beautiful wildflowers here.
In order to get to Cavell Meadows a 45-minute drive is required. Or if you’re an avid cyclist, it’s a well-known route for cyclists too.
If hiking is out of the question, don’t worry you won’t miss out on this Jasper attraction!
After parking the car, you have a short walk ahead of you to get a glimpse of the glacier from the parking lot so you won’t miss out on any views.
14) Shred the Slopes at Marmot Basin
With a season that runs from mid-November to mid/end of May, Jasper National Park is a ski/snowboard-loving town.
This is a huge window for snow lovers of all ages to get their gear and come out to have the most amazing holiday on the hill.
With nearly 100 named runs on 4 different mountain faces and a 3000 ft vertical drop, there are runs for every age and experience level.
Marmot Basin is equipped with a ski school, a rental shop, a terrain park, a handful of dining options including cafes & lounges and outdoor sundecks to soak in those gorgeous bluebird days.
Depending on the time of your visit, there are several different events that take place at Marmot Basin throughout the season.
These include concerts, 80’s-themed days and an end of season party sure to blow the roof off any ski hill you’ve ever shredded before.
Even if you aren’t into hitting the slopes at Marmot Basin, one thing to do on a winter’s day while your friends and family are on the hill is to soak in the cozy atmosphere of the chalet while you wait.
15) Get Interstellar in the Park
With its perfect conditions for dark sky viewing, Jasper National Park was designated in 2011 as a dark sky preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
A dark sky preserve is described as an area in the world that is free of artificial light pollution.
Something as simple as standing in a car parking lot in the dark feels a little more magical when you look up to the sky and find you’re able to see the stars shining brighter than you’ve seen before.
As 1 of only 17 designated areas in Canada, this dark sky preserve in Jasper National Park is a pretty special thing to be able to see.
And you don’t need anything more than your eyes to witness the magical skies either.
But Parks Canada also puts on interpretive talks and viewings throughout the year, especially during special moon phases (blood moon, eclipses etc).
A really special event that takes place every year in Jasper National Park is the Dark Sky Festival. It includes talks from experts in astronomy, members of the Park Service, astrophotography workshops and even fun dining experiences.
If you have a passion for astrophotography this is definitely on the list of the top things to do in Jasper National Park.
READ MORE: Everything you need to know about travelling to Canada.
16) Glide on Top of the lakes
Getting out onto the beautiful lakes of Jasper National Park is an experience not to be missed.
One great way to do that is on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). There are several outfitters that offer SUP lessons for beginners, SUP Yoga, and even paddle fitness courses.
Whether you’re heading to Jasper on a family holiday, girl’s getaway or a company team-building experience, you can find something for everyone, age and skill level.
Plus with water as clear as the lakes they operate on there should be no fear of falling in.
This is one of the best things to do in Jasper to beat the crowds too as many people will hike around the lakes rather than on them.
17) Drive the Icefields Parkway
We know we’ve already mentioned the Icefields Parkway about a million times in this article, but it really is so special that you need to dedicate at least a full day to check it out.
Whether you’re driving to Jasper from Banff or heading in the other direction, no list of the top attractions in Jasper would be complete without adding the Icefields Parkway.
You can drive the entire length of the 230km Icefields Parkway in about 3 hours, but truthfully it will probably take you all day to explore it’s stunning landscapes.
With endless hikes, lakes, waterfalls and mountains to explore, the Icefields Parkway is known to be one of the best road trips in the entire world.
We recommend stopping off at every single viewpoint along the Icefields Parkway. And make sure those cameras are charged!
Jasper Alberta Mini Travel Guide
To help you make the most of your visit to Jasper, here’s our mini travel guide with where to stay and where to eat.
Best Accommodation – Where to Stay in Jasper
The town of Jasper has a variety of accommodation options for travellers of all budgets.
Whether you are looking for an incredibly comfortable stay in a luxury resort or want to simply save money for more outdoor activities by staying in a more budget-friendly hotel, you can find what you are looking for in Jasper.
The Best Hostel in Jasper – HI-Jasper
A newcomer to the budget accommodation scene in Jasper is none other than a Hostelling International property.
HI-Jasper was opened in the summer of 2019 and has been getting rave reviews ever since.
For under 40$/night per person you’ll find quad rooms in the heart of downtown Jasper.
The hostel provides the perfect environment for meeting new people from all around the world.
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you have to skimp on amenities either. HI Jasper offers a great communal kitchen space to cook your own meals, and a cafe serving up fresh and delicious options to guests and visitors.
You will also find a fantastic games room and a lounge area with reception staff that aims to help you decide what to do in Jasper town during your trip.
And even better? If you carry a Hostelling International membership you’ll receive a discount on your stay too.
This also applies to Hostelling International and YHA memberships too.
Best Unique Accommodation in Jasper – Pine Bungalows Resort
There are tons of hotels in Jasper in the mid-range category. But don’t just go for a stock-standard hotel or motel.
Why not stay in a log cabin by the Athabasca River instead?
Pine Bungalows Resort is located just on the other side of the highway from downtown Jasper, less than 5 minutes driving, but you’ll feel like you’re in another world.
Surrounded by pine forests and plenty of resident elk, your stay starts at reception, with its beautiful bar and restaurant, where you’ll get a welcome drink on arrival.
Once you check in drive down to your very own self-contained log cabin, complete with kitchenette, large bathroom, living area and a massive bed.
If you can try and book one by the river, and settle in for one of the nicest stays of your life.
Outdoor fire pits are found outside your door, and the team at Pine Bungalows can drop off firewood for you. How good are s’mores around a campfire?
We stayed here on our last visit to Jasper and will absolutely stay here again.
Best Luxury Hotel in Jasper – Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
One of the best luxury accommodation options when it comes to Jasper is the iconic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
Opened in 1922, this property looked a lot different back then with only the main lodge and a few cabins on the property.
Now you’ll be living it up in the most luxurious cabins Jasper has to offer.
With almost 500 rooms for guests to choose from, you’ll have so many options at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
From private cabins overlooking the spectacular Lac Beauvert to suites with lake & forest views, you won’t be disappointed at Jasper Park Lodge..
There are spa packages that can be added so guests can take advantage of the award-winning spa facilities.
In addition to the extensive in-room dining menu, there are half a dozen dining options at the hotel including Oka Sushi, The Emerald Lounge and Orso all boasting menus with locally sourced items all created by incredible chefs.
Some other special amenities include canoe/kayak rentals for Lac Beauvert in the summer months, skate rentals for skating on Mildred lake in the winter and a bonus hot chocolate cart lakeside to warm up.
Last but not least, the incredible outdoor heated swimming pool that looks even more incredible as the snow falls around you and the steam rises from the water after a day on the slopes.
Best Restaurants in Jasper, Canada
Even though Jasper is a small mountain town, the dining options here might have you thinking you were in a big glamorous city.
After crossing off all the things on your Jasper activities list it’s safe to say you’ll be starving!
With dozens of restaurants, pubs, and cafes to choose from there are menus to satisfy any craving, from incredible sushi, cozy pub fare, locally sourced and sustainable menus and so much more.
Here are just a few worth checking out.
Canada’s first-ever National Park brewery, the Jasper Brewing Company is the perfect place to relax with a pint after a day on the slopes or weekend on the trails.
With a selection of local and seasonal beers on tap and new ones coming in regularly, they will all go down a treat alongside the traditional and delicious pub-style food on offer here.
Mid-Range – Evil Dave’s Grill
Creating “wicked” food, the team at Evil Dave’s Grill aims to please every palate.
From the meatloaf that is better than any childhood dish you can imagine, to locally sourced salmon dishes and curry to set your senses wild, the food here is amazing.
Everything on the menu is made with love, and a fabulous cocktail to match.
The Best Restaurant in Jasper – Tekkara Restaurant
The older we get, the more we appreciate fine cuisine. And in Jasper it doesn’t get any finer than Tekkara.
Opened in 1952, this upscale dining experience has been winning over visitors and locals ever since who want the tastiest, gourmet meals and banging cocktails in the Canadian Rockies.
Tekkara Restaurant serves up a range of local and seasonal dishes including vegan and vegetarian dishes just 1km from downtown Jasper.
Make sure you have a booking if you want a table. And note that it’s only open seasonally!
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