Jasper National Park should be on everybody’s “must-see before I die” list. Jasper is one of two mountain towns in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains (the other one being Banff) and is just such a beautiful place in general. There are a ton of things to see and do here as well, it would take so much time to really do this park justice. I’ve put together everything I can think of in this Jasper National Park Bucket List, to hopefully help you plan your trip and make a list of the top things you want to see and do when visiting, or to inspire you to visit at some point in your life!
Jasper National Park Bucket List
1. Visit the Town of Jasper
The Town of Jasper is a mountain located in Jasper National Park – and will probably be your main base for exploring the area! Most hotels and reservable campgrounds are located close to/in the town. This is also where most restaurants and grocery stores are located as well. The town itself has some great places to visit and is super cute!
A couple of things to do in town:
- Eat Icecream – try Scoops & Loops or Grandma’s Place
- Enjoy a BeaverTail -(a fried pastry with incredible toppings like oreo, Skor, lucky charms…)
- Souvenir shop – there are a ton of shops in Jasper to shop for souvenirs. My favourites are the postcards and stickers for a small, cheaper souvenir
- Stop at a local cafe – Check out SunHouse Cafe for a rooftop patio, Bearspaw Bakery (I love the white chocolate and raspberry scone), or WickedCup for coffee
- Jasper Brewing Co – This restaurant is great if you’re looking for a meal downtown
2. Take a Guided Canoe at Pyramid Lake
Canoeing on a Canadian Lake in the mountains is such a popular thing to do in Jasper – and for good reason! It’s amazing. One way to get the whole family on the water is by booking an incredible canoe tour with Wildcurrent Outfitters (they have a beautiful wooden canoe and amazing customer service). Guided tours leave from the shore of Pyramid Lake, and it is such a relaxing experience! Learn about the different animals and bird calls of the Jasper wildlife, and get updated tips directly from a local Jasper guide.
3. Spend Time Exploring Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake is around a 15-minute drive from downtown Jasper. Plus it’s super beautiful and should definitely be on your Jasper National Park Bucket List! This is where you’ll find the iconic bridge leading to an island on the lake (pictured above), and it’s also a popular spot for weddings. Pyramid Lake Resort is located right on the lakefront as well. You can spend as much or as little time as you want here – whether you’re walking around exploring, having a beach day, or snowshoeing the trails!
WHAT TO DO IN SUMMER AT PYRAMID LAKE
In the summertime the popular activities at Pyramid Lake include:
- Spending time at Pyramid Beach
- Exploring the hiking trails around the lake
- Canoeing, SUP, or kayaking on the lake itself
- Stargazing (Jasper National Park is a dark sky reserve)
- Fishing (license required)
Tip: You can rent bikes and different types of boats from the Pyramid Lake Resort once you arrive.
WHAT TO DO IN WINTER AT PYRAMID LAKE
In the wintertime, the popular activities at Pyramid lake include:
- Exploring around the lake
- Stargazing or hunting for the Northern Lights
- Cross country skiing
- Playing hockey
- Sleigh rides
Tip: You can find information about the sleigh rides, as well as rent snowshoes, fat bikes, and ice skates from the Pyramid Lake Resort once you arrive.
4. Stop at Tim Hortons
If it’s your first time in Canada, you have to make a stop at Tim Hortons at least once. They carry options for breakfast and lunch, pastries for dessert, snacks, drinks – you name it. When heading out on a long drive somewhere, I like to hit up Tims to grab a drink before heading out. There is only one location in downtown Jasper though, so it gets busy fast and it can be hard to find a seat or a place to charge electronics – so I wouldn’t bet on this (parking is also super limited too)!
My favourites: Chocolate or honey dip Timbits, vanilla dip donut, an ice cap with chocolate milk, or their vegetable soup.
5. Visit Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge grounds are a fun and fancy place to explore (even if you’re not a guest there). You can have lunch in their restaurant, explore the grounds, get a day pass to their spa and pool, golf, or rent a canoe. It is very picturesque, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to make sure this is in my itinerary if you have limited days. I didn’t make it here until my fourth trip to Jasper, and there are a lot of other cool things to see if this stop is out of the way with the rest of your bucket list sites.
6. Relax at the Beach and Explore Lake Annette & Edith Lake
If it’s a hot day and you are looking to enjoy the beach or swim in a mountain lake, Lake Annette and Edith Lake are a perfect choice! These two lakes are right beside each other, and there is quite a bit of parking at the parking lots. There are also a few hiking paths around the lake, leaving you with something to explore after your swim. If you have a Stand Up Paddleboard, this is also a popular spot to bring it and spend the day.
Tip: Check JasperNow for live parking updates. This ensures you won’t get there just to find that parking is full! JasperNow covers most high-trafficked parking spots in Jasper National Park.
7. Cliff Jump at Horseshoe Lake
This one is a hidden gem in Jasper National Park and is around a 25 minute drive from town. There are no signs marking where to stop or where the exact location is while driving, but if you are coming from Jasper there is a roadside turnout/little parking lot on the left side of the road. There is an outhouse to change in, and a sign telling you about the paths around Horseshoe Lake.
Once there, you just follow the path into the forest (usually you can hear people in the distance) and try to find the location. Even going back each year it can be hard to find depending on the state of the trails. Sometimes the path is a bit overgrown, but usually, people will help you find the way if you ask.
I would recommend wearing your bathing suit there and then changing once you’re done. It’s a beautiful area, but the water is ice cold – so make sure to go on a hotter day! I’ve only ever jumped off the smaller cliffs, and it’s a ton of fun!
*Please exercise caution when jumping. People have died jumping off the cliffs – there are no lifeguards and you are responsible for your own safety.
8. Explore Maligne Canyon
Maligne Canyon is another popular site – the parking lot (again) usually fills up pretty quickly and so I would recommend getting here as early as possible as well. It is a huge place to explore though, so the crowds aren’t that bad when you’re walking around (from my experience at least). At Maligne Canyon, you can hike, or book an ice walk tour if you are there in the winter!
HIKING MALIGNE CANYON
In the summer and winter, you can hike around the canyon and explore everything the canyon has to offer! You can do this on your own or with a group tour (on your own is free though!).
Basically, there are 6 bridges in the canyon/valley, and what most people do is park at the main parking lot and explore/hike to the second or third bridge, and then turn around and go back. This is a stunning way to do it! If you have more time you can hike all the way to the sixth bridge and then turn around and hike back.
You can also park at some of the different bridges along the route and not even have to do the full hike (way less fun, but if you’re short on time this is an option). You’ll see signs for parking at the different bridges on your drive in, so depending on what you want to do and how you want to spend your time in the canyon is up to you!
ICEWALKS AT MALIGNE CANYON
During the wintertime the canyon freezes, which opens up new opportunities for exploration! You can walk on the frozen floor of the canyon, see the frozen waterfalls, and venture into the caves of the canyon!
Tip: If you don’t join a tour, either bring or rent ice cleats – these will allow you to have grip while walking and not slide around the whole time!
Icewalk tours are around $69/ person and include a shuttle to the canyon.
9. Drive part of the Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the world – and deserves at least a day to explore (preferably 2 days at least if you like to hike)! If you’re short on time, though, you can visit a few stops that are near the Town of Jasper.
Athabasca Falls is a very popular sight along the Icefields Parkway, it’s basically a huge waterfall! There are a few trails to walk/hike in the area, but a lot of people just stop to see the waterfall and then leave. Depending on the amount of time you have, you can spend some time in the area exploring!
Time from Jasper: Around an 18 minute drive.
Sunwapta Falls is another very popular waterfall along the Parkway and is definitely an iconic photo spot you’ve probably seen on Instagram. Like Athabasca Falls, there are trails around here to explore. I recommend setting aside the time to hike down to Lower Sunwapta Falls to get away from some of the crowds.
Time from Jasper: Around a 45 minute drive
If you have a whole day to explore, I would keep driving and exploring the Icefields Parkway because it is absolutely breathtaking (and you’re chance of spotting wildlife increases!). If you’re heading to Banff, this is the road you’ll take on the way there.
10. Go Hiking
Hiking in Jasper National Park is amazing – and there are so many hikes to choose from! Another awesome part about hiking in Jasper is that hiking is free! It doesn’t cost money to park and there are no entrance fees for hikes (you still have to pay the Park fees though – but if you’re in the park then you’ve done that!). There are so many different hikes you can choose from as well that all offer different views and excitement – definitely add at least one hike to your Jasper Bucket List!
VALLEY OF THE FIVE LAKES
This is one of the most popular hikes near Jasper – being a 12 minute drive out of town it is easily accessible, and the hike is fairly easy as well. For this reason, the lot fills up extremely fast and the trails are usually pretty crowded. I would recommend getting there as early in the day as possible to have the most enjoyable experience! This hike will lead you to 5 beautiful lakes in the Rockies (you can swim at Fifth Lake!)
Tip: Find updates on the Valley of the 5 Lakes Parking Lot at JasperNow.
SULPHUR SKYLINE TRAIL
The Sulphur Skyline Trail is a really nice hike to do with great views at the summit. It’s ranked as a moderate-difficult hike and there is a small scramble to get to the very top, but even right before the scramble, there are amazing views to be seen!
The trailhead starts at the Miette Hot Springs, so if you have some non-hikers in your group you can leave them soaking in the springs while you hike, or you can soak your muscles after a long hike!
11. Soak in the Miette Hot Springs
The Miette Hot Springs are the closest hot springs to the Town of Jasper, which means they can be quite a popular spot! If you’ve never been to a hot spring before though I think they are worth the visit: it’s so fun soaking in the hot springs taking in the fresh mountain air and great views.
As mentioned above, the Sulphur Skyline trailhead is located in the same parking lot, making it a great place to soak your muscles after a hike. The road up to the hot springs offers a great chance to see wildlife, and frequently there are bighorn sheep hanging out in the parking lot!
Time from Jasper: Around a one hour drive
12. Catch a Movie at the Chaba Theatre
The Chaba Theatre is a super cute movie theatre right in the Town of Jasper. They play newly released movies and it’s a great way to spend an evening in Jasper! Check out the show times and what movies are playing, and you can even stop in at the theatre beforehand to purchase your ticket in advance.
13. Ride the Jasper SkyTram
Riding the tram itself is a super fun and cool thing to do in Jasper and offers amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Once you get to the top of the mountain though, there are hiking trails you can explore, as well as a restaurant, and opportunities to spot wildlife. If you don’t want to pay to eat at the restaurant, pack snacks or a little picnic to enjoy at the top. If you’re visiting in the winter you can also snowshoe once at the top!
14. Watch for Wildlife
There is wildlife all over Jasper, so keep your eyes peeled! Remember to respect the wildlife in the park, we are in their home. I see a lot of tourists leaving their cars and approaching wildlife (even bears & their cubs). By doing this, you are endangering the lives of both yourself and the animals. Please give the wildlife their space and stay a safe distance from them.
Jasper isn’t a zoo, these animals are wild and if anything happens, it’s the animals’ life that is taken at the cost of your photo.
15. Try Out Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing is a fun winter sport to enjoy in the mountains, and can be a pretty affordable and unique way to enjoy the nature offered by the National Park! A great spot to snowshoe is the trails around Maligne Lake.
- If you are snowshoeing at the Jasper SkyTram you cant rent snowshoes there.
- If you are snowshoeing at Pyramid Lake you can rent snowshoes there.
Find more information on snowshoeing in Jasper and where to snowshoe here.
16. Ski or Snowboard in the Mountains
If you’re interested in skiing or snowboarding in the mountains and you’re in Jasper, Marmot Basin is really the only hill nearby to do it! You can purchase half-day, full day, 2 day, 3 day, 4 day, and 5 day lift tickets depending on how many days you want to enjoy the hill.
Keep in mind if you don’t have the equipment (skis, helmet, snow pants, etc.) you’ll also have to factor in the cost of rentals (you can rent from the ski shop on the hill or in town at a ski shop – Check out Totem).
* There are special prices for students with a valid ID, youth, juniors, and seniors
Time from Jasper: Around 20 minute drive
17. Stop at Medicine Lake
There were really bad wildfires when I visited Medicine Lake, so it is my mission to get back and see it when the lake is more cleared up. But it’s down the same road that Maligne Canyon is on, so it’s a great place to stop after visiting the Canyon! Add this stunning lake to your Jasper National Park bucket list.
18. Frontcountry Camp
Camping in Jasper National Park is one of my favourite things to do and really allows you to be fully immersed in nature (compared to staying in a hotel). Frontcountry camping is the most popular type of camping – the campgrounds are maintained and monitored, usually with flush toilets and running water. You can park your car right at your site and are surrounded by quite a few other campers.
Reservations usually open the January before camping season, so plan ahead and reserve on time! Sites typically fill up in January for the upcomming summer.
Tip: If you are camping and don’t have access to electricity, but need to charge your stuff, head to a local cafe and plug in there, or I found places to plug in at the train station as well!
19. Backcountry Camp
Backcountry camping is typically when you camp overnight on a one-day or multi-day hike, away from maintained campgrounds. In Jasper National Park there are backcountry sites that are reservable, and there are semi-primitive (regularly maintained trails, campsites, and more amenities), primitive (trails and campsites are not maintained as well, fewer amenities), and wildland areas (trails receive no maintenance and amenities are rare).
My favourite backcountry camping trip in Jasper is to Fisherman’s Bay Campground on Maligne Lake. To get here, you’ll need to rent a canoe and paddle 13km to the campground! This campground is also right by iconic Spirit Island.
Find more information on popular backcountry camping itineraries in Jasper here.
20. Stop at the Many Amazing Viewpoints!
Canada’s National Parks are filled with viewpoints on the side of the roads. As you drive between sites, stop at any great viewpoints you see for amazing, picturesque views! (Make sure to budget time for stopping at these viewpoints – cause there are a lot!).
21. Canoe to Spirit Island
One of the most popular places to backcountry camp is the campsites surrounding Maligne Lake (Hidden Cove, Fisherman’s Bay, and Coronet Creek). Camping here allows you to visit Spirit Island on your own time and spend as much time as you like admiring the island.
To get to these campsites, you have to canoe in and out and be well prepared with enough food, shelter, and everything you’ll need to spend the night. The advantage of canoeing to Spirit Island is that you can visit on your own time and you can beat the crowds. Plus canoeing on a lake in Canada is so iconic!
If you don’t have time to canoe or backcountry camp near Spirit Island, you can take a boat tour to see Spirit Island, it just isn’t as personal and you only have 15 minutes to explore. In my opinion, there are so many cooler things to see in Jasper and the boat tour is a little pricey for only 15 minutes on land, with a bunch of other tourists.
It can be a loooong day to canoe to Spirit Island and back in one day, so it’s recommended to backcountry camp overnight (the sites are classified as semi-primitive, with pit toilets).
22. Rent Your Own Canoe
One of the most iconic things to do in Jasper National Park is to canoe on a beautiful lake. Jasper isn’t short of stunning lakes to paddle on, and I would highly recommend budgeting the time and money to canoe on a lake in Jasper (whether it’s a guided tour or yourself). Canoeing is such a fun experience, you won’t regret it!
POPULAR LAKES TO CANOE ON IN JASPER:
- Maligne Lake
- Pyramid Lake
- Lac Beauvert (at Jasper Park Lodge)
23. White Water Raft
White water rafting is another adventure to add to your Jasper National Park Bucketlist if you are looking for a bit of a thrill. Head to Whitewater Rafting Jasper or Jasper Rafting Adventures to plan your trip and hit the river!
24. Visit Maligne Lake
If you are not interested in canoeing to Spirit Island or just don’t have the time, Maligne Lake is still a fun place to check out! You can canoe or kayak on the lake for fun, bike, or there are hiking trails and walking trails to enjoy as well! Maligne Lake is an incredible place to visit in Jasper National Park.
25. Visit Jasper House & Jasper House Viewpoint
Jasper House plays an important role in Jasper’s history, as this was the main stop for fur traders during Canada’s fur trade. There is also a really nice viewpoint here to check out, so if you have time I would add it to your Jasper bucket list!
26. Visit the Jasper Planetarium
Jasper is a Natural Dark Sky Preserve, which means it is perfect for stargazing (especially during a meteor shower). Head outside and look up in the middle of the night, or head to the Jasper Planetarium to learn about the night sky, space, and use some powerful telescopes for an incredible experience.
Jasper National Park is so beautiful, hopefully, this Jasper National Park Bucket List helps you plan your trip or inspire you to visit!
* This post is not sponsored *
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Hey! I’m Kat. Based in Alberta, Canada I love to travel to the Rockies and explore new places around the world. Follow along on my adventures and find inspiration and tips for your own travels.