A comprehensive travel guide to the best things to do in Jasper, Canada, by our Canadian team writer, Laura.
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 mountains, and usually a lake or two, to marvel at.
In the middle of the Icefields Parkway (aka Highway 93) from Edmonton, you’ll find yourself in awe of the incredible peaks as you drive through from the big city.
As Jasper does not have a commercial airport your options are to fly into Edmonton and drive or catch one of the many shuttle/coach options from the airport.
Otherwise, you can come into Calgary and do the same thing but head East through beautiful Banff and Lake Louise National Parks.
Whichever option you choose you’ll be gifted with spectacular mountain views the whole way out of the city.
And once you arrive you will find there are plenty of amazing things to do in Jasper!
Table of Contents
- 15 Epic Things To Do in Jasper
- 1. Hop on the Jasper Tramway
- 2. Marvel at Maligne Canyon
- 3. Float on Maligne Lake
- 4. Walk or Paddle Around Pyramid Lake
- 5. Explore the Valley of the 5 Lakes
- 6. Get Your Steps in at Old Fort Point
- 7. Stand on a Glacier
- 8. Feel the Spray at Athabasca Falls
- 9. Hike And Soak at the Sulphur Skyline
- 10. Hit the Rapids of Jasper’s Rivers
- 11. Stroll Around Lac Beauvert
- 12. Stare in Amazement at Mount Edith Cavell
- 13. Shred the Slopes at Marmot Basin
- 14. Get Interstellar in the Park
- 15. Glide on Top of the lakes
- Jasper Mini Travel Guide
15 Epic 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 full of incredible places to explore.
With that much ground to cover you’ll be sure to find something to please even the pickiest of travellers on your visit.
Whether your trip brings you to Jasper in the colder months for skiing, skating, snowboarding or snowshoeing in the backcountry.
Or maybe you’re planning a trip for the warmer months for hiking, biking, rock climbing or rafting one of the many rivers.
With so much to do, and as always when it comes to travelling, so little time, this list of things to do in Jasper National Park will tick the boxes for everyone!
1. Hop on the Jasper Tramway
This Jasper attraction is one high on most visitors list of places to visit.
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 tramway 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 town.
If you fancy a bit more adventure or want to save the cost of a ticket you can also hike up the Whistler summit trail. This option isn’t for everyone but the view as your reward is more than worth it.
Keep your eyes peeled for adorable marmot who are quite curious and used to people they seem to pose when you pull your camera out!
Book your SkyTram ticket online here.
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 freezes 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 Jasper activity not to be missed.
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.
If you ask anyone who has been here, this is likely going to be the first recommendation.
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!
You can do a scenic drive from Jasper out to the lake, totalling 46 km of sheer beauty.
Or if the weather permits, take a boat trip! One of the best Jasper activities on a beautiful day is to head down to the boat dock and hop any number of different cruises ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Sit in comfort as you glide on top of the water and get a whole new perspective of the lake that exists on about a thousand postcards of Canada.
READ MORE: Hit the best hiking trails in Banff National Park.
4. Walk or Paddle Around Pyramid Lake
There are no shortages of beautiful lakes and mountains in Jasper.
On the top of that list is Pyramid Lake and mountain. There is a beautiful resort at the foot of the lake looking out to the mountain.
But this area is also open to the public as well.
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 mountain as the backdrop.
Enjoy a paddle out in a canoe or kayak. Or even rent a stand-up paddleboard to tour the lake.
When Pyramid lake freezes your options for activities in Jasper 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. 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 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 things to do in Jasper 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 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 hikes 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 a quick trip for a view before heading out of town.
Also, should you be visiting over Canada Day this is a great spot to watch the fireworks too!
7. Stand on a Glacier
When it comes to unique Jasper sightseeing, there is no better place than the Columbia Icefields to see it all.
You will have the opportunity to see incredible wildlife like wolves, bears and elk on the Icefields Parkway leading up to the famous attraction in Jasper.
The area is also home to the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies. At 325 square kilometres in area, the icefield can have depths up to 360 meters!
If you think about it, the icefields are as deep as the Eiffel Tower is tall, which gives you such a good perspective.
There are opportunities to summit the surrounding mountains. But the trails are extreme and advanced.
However, if you want to get as close as possible to it all there is the opportunity to get out on the glacier.
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 personally.
The tour companies will also fit guests out with spikes for their boots as it is a giant icefield after all, aka pretty slippery!
If you would rather keep your feet off the ice, then you have the option to visit the newly relatively new Glacier Skywalk.
A 1km long walkway leads you towards glass floor platform 280m above the Sunwapta Valley with awe-inspiring views of the mountains.
This 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.
8. 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.
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.
9. 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.
These are the hottest hot springs in the Rockies and the perfect place to soak in even when the snow starts to fall.
10. 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 rafting adventure on one of the many rivers in the 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 is never a disappointment.
11. 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.
When frozen over there is no shortage of things to do in Jasper on this lake.
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 resorts 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 or 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.
12. 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 trails here to choose from. One of the most popular is the Cavell Meadows hike.
The 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 Edith Cavell a 45-minute drive is required.
Or if you’re an avid cyclist, it’s a well-known route for cyclists too.
If a hike 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.
13. Shred the Slopes at Marmot Basin
With a season that runs from mid-November to mid/end of May, Jasper 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, 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 on the hill 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, 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.
14. 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, it 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 is the Dark Sky Festival, which includes talks from experts in astronomy, members of the Park Service, photography workshops and even fun dining experiences.
If you have a passion for astrophotography this definitely on the top things to do in Jasper for that.
For more information and when the festival will next take place check out the Dark Sky Festival website.
READ MORE: Everything you need to know about travelling to Canada.
15. Glide on Top of the lakes
Getting out onto the beautiful lakes of Jasper 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, girls 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.
Jasper 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
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 recently 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 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 Mid-Range Hotel in Jasper – Chateau Jasper
There are tons of hotels in Jasper in the mid-range category. But one that is definitely worth holding out for is Chateau Jasper.
Part of the Mountain Park Lodge organization of hotels in the National Park, Chateau Jasper is located in the townsite close to all the shopping and restaurants.
This is a huge bonus for those travelling without a car as everything is within walking distance.
Nearly 120 rooms and several different categories to choose from, each choice comes with charming and rustic mountain decor to fit the setting outside.
The pool area at this hotel creates a fantastic tropical oasis with lush greenery and a wall of windows that show the views outside of the hotel.
A perfect location for families travelling together, the hotel even has pet-friendly rooms if you can’t bear to leave your furry friends behind.
Adding to the great price point of this hotel is the attentive and knowledgeable staff that will be able to give you great suggestions on things to do in Jasper while you’re there.
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.
From private cabins overlooking the spectacular Lac Beauvert to suites with lake & forest views, you won’t be disappointed.
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 Brew Pub 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.
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, locally sourced salmon dishes and curry to set your senses wild.
Everything on the menu is made with love, and a fabulous cocktail to match.
Opened in 1952 this upscale dining experience is one not to be missed when in Jasper.
Tekkara Restaurant serves up a range of local and seasonal dishes including vegan and vegetarian dishes in an incredibly atmospheric location in Jasper National Park.