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!
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 and this is where most restaurants and grocery stores are located as well. The town itself has some great places to visit and is super cute!
Eat Ice cream!
I love getting ice cream no matter what the season. Whether you just finished a hike or want a delicious snack as you walk around town, ice cream in the mountains is something you should get!
Try: Scoops & Loops or Grandma’s Place for ice cream in town
Enjoy a BeaverTail
BeaverTails are a delicious snack and originated in Canada – so stopping and grabbing a beavertail is something you have to do! A beavertail is a pastry with a bunch of different options for toppings, including (but not limited to) Charmed (has lucky charm cereal on it), Avalanche (has skor pieces), Coco Vanil (oreo), and so many more options! They are quite sweet, so I like to share mine with someone else if possible (and if you can both agree on the flavour!)
BeaverTails shops also carry drinks, poutine, sundaes, and ice cream!
If you’re in Canada you have to make a stop at Tim Hortons. They carry options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, drinks – you name it. If you’re 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 town 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
Spend Time at Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake is around a 15 minute drive from the main town – and 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!
In the summertime the popular activities at Pyramid Lake include:
- Spending time at the beach
- Exploring around the lake
- Taking pictures because everything is super pretty
- Canoeing, kayaking, or boating on the lake itself
- Fishing (license required)
Tip: You can rent bikes and different types of boats from the Pyramid Lake Resort once you arrive.
In the wintertime the popular activities at Pyramid lake include:
- Exploring around the lake
- Taking pictures because everything is super pretty
- 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, fatbikes, and ice skates from the Pyramid Lake Resort once you arrive.
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, or explore the grounds. 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 a lot of other cool things to see if this stop is out of the way with the rest of your bucket list sites.
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 signaling you 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 to park at 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. Basically you just follow the path (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.
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.
Hike 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!
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).
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 (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 – and 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 hike (way less fun, but if you’re short on time this 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!
During the winter time 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!
* You can still explore the canyon on your own (without a tour) in the winter and see the frozen waterfalls, but Parks Canada does recommend you go with a guide!
Tip: If you don’t join a tour, either bring your own 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.
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 (preferably 2 days) to explore! If you’re short on time though, there are a few stops you can visit that are nearby the Town of Jasper.
Athabasca Falls is a very popular sight along the Icefields Parkway, its basically a huge waterfall! There’s 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 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 also trails around here to explore. Of the two, Sunwapta Falls is definitely my favourite, and its worth the 45 minute drive from town to see it!
Time from Jasper: Around 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 likely hood of spotting wildlife increases!).
Read more: Where to stop along the Icefields Parkway
Hike the 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 hike and there is a 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!
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 in a hot springs before though I think they are worth the visit: it’s so fun soaking in the hot springs taking in fresh mountain air and great views.
As mentioned above the trail head for the Sulphur Skyline hike 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!
Adult Price: $7.21 CAD for a single entry, $9.76 CAD for a day pass
Time from Jasper: Around a one hour drive
Find more information on the Miette Hot Springs here
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 Japer Bucket List!
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 is 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.
Price for General Admission: $12 CAD
Price on Tuesdays: $8 CAD
Find more information on the Chaba Theatre here
Ride the Jasper SkyTram
Riding the tram itself is a super fun and cool thing to do 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 to eat lunch in, and opportunities to spot wildlife. If you don’t want to pay to eat at the restaurant make sure to 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!
Price for Adults to ride the tram: $52 CAD
Find more information on the Jasper SkyTram here
Watch for Wildlife
There is wildlife all over Jasper, so keep your eyes peeled!
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!
If you are snowshoeing at the Jasper SkyTram you cant rent snowshoes there for around $15 CAD/day.
If you are snowshoeing at Pyramid Lake you can rent snowshoes there for around $10 CAD/hour.
Find more information on snowshoeing in Jasper and where to snowshoe here
Coming Soon: Everything you Need to Know When Planning a Trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains
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 on! 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, snowpants, 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).
Price for Adult Lift Tickets: $85 CAD for a half day, $105 CAD for a full day
* There are special prices for students with a valid ID, youth, juniors, and seniors
Time from Jasper: Around 20 minute drive
Find more information on Marmot Basin here
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 Maligne Canyon is on, so it’s a great place to stop after visiting the Canyon!
Camping in Jasper National Park is awesome 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, monitored, shared
Tip: If you are camping and don’t have access to electricity, but need to charge your stuff, head to a local cafe and plugin there, or I found places to plug in at the train station as well!
Backcountry camping is typically when you camp overnight on a multi-day hike, away from maintained and frequently visited campgrounds. It is also something I hope to try out this summer for the first time! 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, less amenities), and wildland areas (trails receive no maintenance and amenities are rare).
Find more information on backcountry camping here
Find more information on popular backcountry camping itineraries in Jasper here
Stop at any viewpoints you see
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!).
Canoe to Spirit Island
One of the most popular places to backcountry camp are the campsites that surround Maligne Lake (Hidden Cove, Fisherman’s Bay, and Coronet Creek), and camping here allows you to visit Spirit Island on your own time. To get to these campsites you do have to canoe in and out and be well prepared with enough food, your 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 don’t spend as much time there had you done it yourself. But this is sometimes the only option!
It can be hard 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).
Mentioned Above: Maligne Lake Cruise to Spirit Island – Price: $75 CAD
Coming soon: Your Guide to Canoeing to Spirit Island
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 just on the lake for fun, bike, or there are hiking trails and walking trails to enjoy as well!
Jasper National Park is so beautiful, hopefully this Jasper National Park Bucket List helps you plan your trip or inspire you to visit!
Comment below or send me an email with any questions, comments, or just to say hello! Thanks for reading!
* This post is not sponsored *