Imagine a world of countless expansive glaciers, snow-capped mountain peaks, powerful waterfalls, turquoise alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife.
Does this sound enticing enough to start packing your bags?
Welcome to Jasper National Park, Canada!
Jasper National Park sits in the Athabasca River Valley in Alberta, and it’s the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Although it’s lesser-known than the famous neighbour of Banff, Jasper is nothing short of breathtaking!
I prefer Jasper over Banff because people are more spread out between valley and activities. You won’t find Banff’s crowds here.
What you will find are stunning natural wonders you can explore up close.
Whether it’s walking on the glacier, jumping into an emerald lake, watching wildlife at sunset, or hiking up a mountain peak, Jasper has an outdoor experience and endless adventures for everyone.
This guide includes the most beautiful places to see in Jasper National Park, Canada with recommended hiking trails, viewpoints, and other incredible attractions, tours, and activities.
Let’s dive in.
1. Athabasca Glacier
Columbia Icefields, located along the picturesque Icefields Parkway, is the largest icefield in North America, and you can see it right from the road. But this gorgeous place is worth a closer look.
Book an Ice Explorer bus at Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre, which takes you directly to Athabasca Glacier. You walk on a gigantic glacier with Columbia Icefield above and taste the fresh glacier water (if you bring a water bottle with a filter).
A popular thing to do in Jasper NP is admire the views of the valley from the glass-bottomed Columbia Icefield Skywalk.
Another option is a Wilcox Pass Hike located just across the valley. The best thing about Wilcox Pass Hike is that you don’t even need to reach the pass to get the most beautiful views. If you only hike the first 3 km, you see the Athabasca Glacier surrounded by mountain peaks and other glaciers.
There’s a viewpoint with the famous red chairs, located at the most stunning photo locations in the Canadian Rockies. You might even get some company as local bighorn sheep and mountain goats like to hang out at the viewpoint as well.
2. Sunwapta & Athabasca Falls
As you continue driving on the Icefields Parkway, watch for signs for Sunwapta Falls and a bit further down the road Athabasca Falls. They’re the most impressive waterfalls in Jasper National Park.
Sunwapta Falls are 18 meters high and easily accessible on the paved path. There are several viewpoints along the falls with a beautiful mountainous background.
If you visit Jasper at the beginning of the summer, the waterfalls would be the strongest when the Athabasca Glacier starts to melt slowly.
Athabasca Falls are 24 metres high, and the azure water flows through a deep canyon. The best view of the waterfall is from the bridge.
You should carry a bear spray whenever you go exploring in the Canadian Rockies. Parks Canada recommends carrying it within arm’s reach, knowing how to use it and learning about wildlife safety in advance.
3. Horseshoe Lake
Horseshoe Lake is a true hidden gem accessible from the Icefields Parkway. It’s not a usual turquoise alpine lake with a mountain backdrop as you usually see in the Rockies. Horseshoe Lake has an emerald colour, and tall rock walls and a forest surround it.
Because of the sheltering from the trees, the water is calm and crystal clear. It’s a quiet place for a picnic, stand-up paddle boarding, and, most often, cliff diving. You can choose from one to 25 metres in height and cool off in summer.
4. Valley of the Five Lakes
Valley of the Five Lakes is one of the most visited hikes in Jasper National Park. It’s relatively easy, and I’ve seen people of all age groups on the trail.
A short 5.5 km loop takes you around five lakes in different shades of emerald colour. The changing scenery keeps it interesting as you hike through a forest, meadows filled with wildflowers, and different viewpoints of the lakes.
The third lake is hands down the most beautiful one. It has a different shade of green on shore than in the middle, depending on how the sun’s rays shine.
That’s why Parks Canada put the red chairs at the viewpoint; you will want to sit and watch, taking the beauty in.
5. Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake with Pyramid Island in the middle is an iconic spot easily reachable from downtown Jasper. You can rent a bike in town and then ride to the lake. Jasper has excellent bike trail systems connecting trails around town and nearby lakes.
You pass Patricia Lake with a beach and boat rental from Jasper and reach Pyramid Lake shortly after. It’s a popular spot for photographers due to the background of Pyramid Island and Pyramid Mountain.
Have a picnic on the island or rent a canoe to paddle around the lake. You can often spot wildlife right on the shore.
STAY: Pyramid Lake Resort
Located in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies, this resort offers canoeing, fishing, and hiking. It features a private beach, on-site dining, and rooms with gas fireplaces. Beautiful location on the lake surrounded by mountains.
6. Edit Cavell Meadows
If you go hiking in Jasper National Park, I recommend Edith Cavell Meadows. You see a glacier, alpine lake, wildflowers, and even marmots. It’s a stunning place accessible for all, and you can choose how far to go based on your fitness level.
A short and paved 1.6 km path leads to the Angel Glacier viewpoint. If you decide for the 8 km loop, you reach the glacier with the small lake underneath, and then hike up a hill through the switchbacks. That’s where the best view is!
Edith Cavell Road is also close to several campgrounds in Jasper National Park. Despite Jasper having a lot of lodges and cabins, camping is very popular in the Rockies. Waking up with the sound of rustling trees, chirping birds or the river close by is a great way to start the day (not even mentioning the wildlife that often wanders into campgrounds).
7. Maligne Lake
Maligne Lake is the second largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies and the most visited in Jasper National Park. The Maligne Road leading to the lake is also an excellent place for wildlife watching, especially by the Medicine Lake.
When you arrive at Maligne Lake, you see mountain peaks and several glaciers surrounding the lake, and you can easily spend the whole day here!
Boat cruise across Maligne Lake to Spirit Island has been voted best boat cruise in Canada by Reader’s Digest. And Spirit Island is one of the most photographed spots in the Rockies. (Book your boat cruise here)
The serenity and calmness of this remote inlet, only accessible on water, is mesmerizing.
If you’d like to explore on your own, you can rent a kayak or canoe. Several easy hike trails depart from Maligne Lakes to surrounding lakes.
One of my favourites is Bald Hills Hike. During 10 km, you gain 500 meters of elevation, and the trail is mostly switchbacks. The views slowly open up the higher you go and offer a fantastic panoramic view of Maligne Lake.
TOUR IDEA: Maligne Canyon Icewalk Discovery Tour
One of Jasper’s most impressive and popular adventures! Travel with your friendly guide to the bottom of the deepest accessible canyon in Jasper National Park. Marvel at frozen waterfalls, ice caves and incredible ice formations.
About t Book your tour here.
8. Whistlers Mountain
Whistlers Mountain is the most accessible mountain in Jasper because of the Jasper SkyTram. In about 20 minutes, you’re almost on top of the Whistlers Mountain. You need to hike the last 2 km to reach the summit at 2,470 meters.
The panoramic views of Jasper and the Athabasca River valley are breathtaking. On a clear day, you can see Mount Robson (3,954m), the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies.
There’s an option to hike from the very bottom to the top of Whistlers Mountain for adventurous visitors. It’s a steep 9 km trail with 1,200 meters of elevation gain. Don’t forget to check trail conditions, mainly at the beginning of the season, as the trail passes an avalanche terrain.
I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to one of the most beautiful places in Canada, the stunning Jasper National Park.
Plan Your Trip
- Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge: Located on the shores of Beauvert Lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, this resort features an award-winning golf course, 8 on-site restaurants and a 10,000 square foot spa. See more here.
- Chateau Jasper: Featuring an award-winning seasonal restaurant and indoor pool, this environmentally friendly hotel is located in Jasper National Park, only 13 minutes’ drive from the Jasper Tramway See more here
- Jasper House Bungalows: Located in Jasper National Park, these private suites are a 5-minute drive from downtown Jasper. The 3 acre property offers walking trails. See more here
- Vacation rentals on VRBO
Jasper Tour Ideas
Comment: What are some of your favorite things to do and places to see in Jasper National Park?