Spirit Island on Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park

Is Jasper National Park Worth Visiting? 13 Unique Things To Do in Jasper (2024)

Affiliate Disclosure for Destination Checkoff

The short answer is yes, Jasper National Park is totally worth visiting! I would 100% recommend adding Jasper National Park to your Canadian Rockies itinerary if you have a day or two to spare.

I visited both Banff and Jasper and found Jasper to be equally, if not more spectacular. Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake alone make it worth visiting, but it has so much more to explore!

Everyone visiting Banff is faced with the question of whether the drive from Banff to Jasper National Park is worth it and whether Jasper National Park itself is worth visiting.

The Canadian Rockies, a breathtaking mountain range in western Canada, are renowned for their towering peaks, pristine lakes, and diverse ecosystems.

Both Banff and Jasper National Parks in the Canadian Rockies showcase the unparalleled beauty of the Canadian Rockies, but Banff National Park is more popular, more easily accessible from Calgary, and more touristy.

Jasper National Park is less popular and less visited than Banff. Wondering if Jasper National Park is worth the drive?

So is Jasper National Park Worth Visiting? Let’s find out! In this article, we’ll explore the unique things to do in Jasper National Park and the drive from Banff to Jasper.

After reading this article, you can decide for yourself if you want to add Jasper to your Canadian Rockies trip. I did, and it was the best part of our 7 day Canadian Rockies itinerary!

➡ In a hurry and looking for the best recommendations for Jasper National Park? Below are the top excursions for Jasper:

Top Hotel Recommendations in Japser: The Crimson, Tekarra Lodge (mid-range) | Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (luxury)

For rental car, check rates and availability with Discover Cars for best rates.

Is Jasper National Park Worth Visiting?

Jasper National Park is located in the western province of Alberta, Canada. It is situated in the Canadian Rockies and covers a vast area of rugged mountains, glaciers, forests, and alpine meadows.

Jasper is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, known for its vast wilderness, abundant wildlife, and untouched natural beauty.

In Jasper, you will find majestic mountain ranges, pristine lakes, spectacular waterfalls, expansive forests, and impressive glaciers.

It is less touristy and more rugged and raw as compared to Banff in summer. It is a haven for outdoor and adventure enthusiasts and those seeking a deep connection with the wilderness.

Jasper National Park is 100% worth visiting on your trip to the Canadian Rockies.

Icefields Parkway Drive from Banff to Jasper
Icefields Parkway Drive from Banff to Jasper

Is Jasper National Park worth the drive?

Jasper National Park is next to Banff National Park, and the Icefields Parkway, a scenic highway, connects the two parks. This drive is the best part!!

Even though the distance between the mountain towns of Banff and Jasper is around 3 hours, driving over the scenic Icefields Parkway usually takes an entire day because of the jaw-dropping vistas and exploring the unique stops along Icefields Parkway.

The drive from Banff to Jasper via Icefields Parkway was the best part of our trip and was totally worth it. In my opinion, the Icefields Parkway drive alone makes Jasper National Park worth visiting!

On the Icefields Parkway drive, you will find stunning scenery, unique hikes, vista points like Big Bend, Athabasca Glacier, and several waterfalls.

At the end of Icefields Parkway Drive is the small quaint mountain town of Jasper.

Going back to Banff the same day would be very tiring, so I recommend staying at least two nights in Jasper to get the most out of it.

13 Best Things to Do in Jasper National Park

Wondering what to do in Jasper National Park? Jasper National Park has so many unique and amazing things to do that you should plan to spend a few days here.

Below are some of the top things to do in Jasper National Park.

1. Columbia Icefield Glacier and Skywalk tour

Jasper National Park is home to the Columbia Icefield, one of the largest accumulations of ice and snow in the Rocky Mountains. You can take guided tours to walk on the Athabasca Glacier.

Taking the Columbia Icefield Glacier and Skywalk tour is the #1 bucket list experience in Jasper National Park. This tour was the highlight of our trip!

Columbia Icefields Athabasca glacier - Is Jasper National Park worth visiting? This glacier tour alone makes it worth visiting!
Columbia Icefields Athabasca glacier tour

Walking on top of a 1000-year-old glacier is an experience that cannot be described in words! The ride in the massive Ice Explorer vehicle was an adventure in itself!

The tour also includes enjoying panoramic views from the Skywalk’s glass-bottom observation platform.

➡ Check rates and availability for the tickets for Columbia Icefield Glacier and Skywalk combo tour

Looking for a tour from Banff? Check rates and availability for this small group Athabasca Glacier Tour from Banff, which includes admission tickets to the Columbia Icefields Glacier and Skywalk tour and transportation from Banff.

2. Jasper Sky Tram

The Jasper SkyTram provides an exciting ascent to the top of Whistler Mountain, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. It is only a 10-minute drive from Jasper town.

Jasper Skytram trolley going up Whistler Mountain
Jasper Skytram

Once at the summit, you can enjoy hiking trails, photo opportunities, and the Summit Restaurant for dining.

There are no boardwalk trails here, just a raw mountaintop to explore. There is a one-mile long Summit trail to reach the very top of Whistler Mountain.

Jasper Skytram View
View from Jasper Skytram of Jasper town

The views from the top include numerous mountain ranges, the town of Jasper, Beauvert Lake, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Valley of the Five Lakes, and various other turquoise-blue lakes. It’s really breathtaking!

Taking the Jasper Skytram is an ideal way to experience panoramic vistas and immerse yourself in the beauty of Jasper National Park.

➡ Check rates and availability for Jasper Skytram tickets

3. Maligne Lake and Spirit Island

Maligne Lake in Jasper is perhaps the most beautiful and most popular lake in Jasper National Park. The lake’s clear blue waters reflect the towering mountains and lush forests surrounding it.

On the way to Maligne Canyon, you will come across Medicine Lake, a great stop for some photos of this beautiful lake from the viewpoint.

Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park
Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park

At Maligne Lake in Jasper, you can take a boat cruise to the renowned Spirit Island. Enjoy the panoramic views as your cruise glides through the stunning landscape of the lake and the surrounding mountains and dense forests.

Spirit Island, nestled amid the lake’s beauty, is a picturesque gem popular with photographers!

Check rates and availability for Lake Maligne Cruise tickets

➡ Check rates and availability for this highly-rated small group
Jasper Wildlife and Waterfalls Tour with Maligne Lake Cruise – includes Maligne Canyon hike, Maligne Lake cruise, Medicine Lake, and wildlife viewing.

4. Wildlife viewing

Jasper’s diverse ecosystems provide habitats for a wide array of wildlife. If you are lucky you might spot black bears, elk, moose, deer, bighorn sheep, and even elusive wolves.

Black bear potted on Icefields parkway
Black bear spotted swimming in river in Jasper

You might come across them while driving around either on Icefields Parkway or on the road to Maligne Lake, but the best way to ensure that you see some wildlife is to take a tour, as the expert guides know where the spots which are frequented by wildlife.

➡ Check rates and availability for this small group
Jasper Evening Wildlife Tour with an expert guide

Remember to maintain a respectful distance and adhere to park guidelines when observing these creatures.

5. Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park is a deep, narrow gorge carved by a rushing river. The canyon features impressive waterfalls, towering limestone walls, and unique rock formations. It’s a natural wonder that is a must-see!

There is a beautiful, well-maintained hiking trail in the Maligne Canyon to admire the canyon and the waterfalls. The trail leads you through the deep canyon with several bridges offering amazing views of waterfalls and the gorge.

Hikinh trail in Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park
Maligne Canyon hike in Jasper

At the main parking lot, there is a cafe. You can shorten the hike and return from any of the bridges.

Or alternatively, you can park at the parking lot at the fifth bridge and do the reverse uphill hike from there like we did. That way, you save the main waterfall view for the end and then take a break at the cafe.

➡ If you are visiting Jasper and Maligne Canyon during the winter months of December to March, check out this highly-rated small group Maligne Canyon Ice Walk tour – walk inside a frozen canyon and see frozen waterfalls up close!

6. Whitewater Rafting on Athabasca River

Athabasca River in Jasper National Park is great for white water rafting amidst spectacular scenery.

The river’s challenging, but beginner-friendly class II rapids and stunning scenery make it a popular destination for rafting adventures.

Several tour operators in Jasper offer guided white water rafting trips on the Athabasca River, which is a great family-friendly activity.

➡ Check rates and availability for this highly rated Athabasca River Mile 5 rafting adventure which is perfect for beginners and families – class 2 rapids, includes transportation from Jasper town

7. Beauvert Lake and Jasper Park Lodge

Beauvert Lake is a serene gem within Jasper National Park, known for its calm waters and reflective beauty. I think this was the most picturesque lake after Lake Louise on our trip.

Lake Beauvert in Jasper National Park
Lake Beauvert in Jasper National Park

There is a hiking trail along the perimeter of the lake which is really beautiful. It winds through lush forests and meadows and leads you to the serene shores of Beauvert Lake, where the stunning mountain backdrop reflects in its calm waters.

We parked at the Old Fort Point trailhead and hiked to the lake. Adjacent to the lake is Jasper Park Lodge, a historic and luxurious retreat. This is one of the nicest places to stay in Jasper.

8. Stargazing and Jasper Planetarium

Jasper National Park is designated as a Dark Sky Preserve, making it an excellent destination for stargazers. The lack of light pollution allows for unparalleled night sky views, including the Milky Way and countless stars and constellations.

To enhance this experience, the Jasper Planetarium offers guided tours where you can see a planetarium show inside the Planetarium Dome Experience and later explore constellations, planets, and galaxies through powerful telescopes.

They even have a Moon rock, and Mars rock to see! Visiting the Jasper Planetarium is a great activity for families.

➡ Check rates and availability for
Jasper Planetarium Dark Sky tour tickets

9. Jasper downtown

Jasper downtown is a small mountain town nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Lined with motels and lodges, shops, cafes, and local eateries, it exudes a welcoming atmosphere.

Jasper downtown
Jasper downtown

Jasper town is less touristy than Banff and is more about getting food and essentials. Surrounded by towering peaks, the town offers a convenient base for exploring Jasper National Park’s natural wonders.

➡ Check rates and availability for this highly rated 3 hour
Walking food tour in Jasper where you get to sample dishes and drinks from 4 Jasper restaurants! Great way to try different places at one price!

10. Lake Annette and Lake Edith

Lake Annette and Lake Edith are pristine alpine lakes in Jasper National Park. Nestled amid lush forests and mountains, they have clear blue waters perfect for kayaking, paddleboarding, picnicking, or simply soaking in the tranquility.

They are so beautifully blue that I could spot them from the top of Whistler Mountain when I took the Jasper Skytram.

These lakes are less crowded compared to the more popular Maligne and Beauvert Lake. Lake Annette also has a small beach and kid’s playground.

11. Athabasca falls

Athabasca Falls is a majestic natural wonder in Jasper National Park, around 30 minutes from Jasper town. The powerful Athabasca River plunges through a narrow gorge, creating a spectacular display of rushing water and striking rock formations.

Athabasca falls in Jasper National Park
Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park

A convenient hiking trail next to the falls allows you to explore different views of Athabasca Falls and its impressive canyon.

12. Valley of the Five Lakes hike

The Valley of the Five Lakes hike in Jasper National Park takes you through a serene forest, leading to a series of five stunning glacial-fed lakes.

Each lake has a unique hue, from emerald greens to vivid blues, framed by the surrounding mountains. The fourth and the fifth lake are the most beautiful, and the water is perfect for swimming.

The 3-mile loop trail provides easy access to these picturesque lakes, making it a rewarding and moderate hike with stunning views.

13. Miette hot springs

Miette Hot Springs are the warmest thermal springs in the Canadian Rockies. These pools are fed by natural mineral water originating from the mountains and cooled to approximately 40 degrees Celsius or 104 Fahrenheit.

With both warm and cool pools, Miette allows you to unwind while surrounded by nature’s beauty. It’s a perfect way to relax and recharge after exploring the park’s outdoor adventures.

The facility provides amenities such as showers, changing rooms, and towel rentals. Additionally, after your hot springs experience, you can take a short walk to the springs’ source, where the water maintains its original higher temperature.

Where to stay in Jasper

Couple relaxing on chairs admiring views of Athabasca River in Jasper National Park
Me and hubby admiring views of Athabasca River outside our cabin at Tekarra Lodge

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is the nicest place to stay in Jasper, situated by Lake Beauvert, with stunning lake views and peaceful surroundings.

Tekarra Lodge, only a 5-minute drive from downtown Jasper, offers cozy individual cabins with kitchens. We stayed at Tekarra Lodge in a 2-bedroom cabin, and it was very lovely right next to the Athabasca River. It’s a delightful blend of wilderness and convenience, as you’re close to downtown shops and restaurants.

For those seeking lodging in downtown Jasper, The Crimson is a great choice. It conveniently allows you to walk to numerous shops and restaurants.

FAQs: Visiting Jasper National Park

Below are answers to frequently asked questions about Jasper National Park that will help you plan your trip.

How to get to Jasper National Park?

To reach Jasper National Park, you can consider the following options:

By Car: You can reach Jasper National Park by car via highways like the Icefields Parkway from Banff or Yellowhead Highway from Edmonton.

Nearest Airport: The closest major airport is Edmonton International Airport (YEG), which is approximately 4 hours away by car. Calgary International Airport (YYC) is also an option, though it’s farther.

Rail Option: VIA Rail offers train services from Calgary to Vancouver via Jasper, providing a scenic and leisurely way to travel.

➡ Check rates and availability for this 6-Day VIA Rail Travel from Calgary to Vancouver via Banff Jasper – includes accommodation and admission to Columbia Icefield Glacier and Skywalk!

Shuttle Service from Banff: If you’re in Banff, there are shuttle services available that can take you to Jasper National Park. This option is convenient for those looking to travel between the two parks without driving. Some of these even have full-day tours to explore the journey from Banff to Jasper.

➡ Check rates and availability for this full-day Banff to Jasper One-Way Tour – includes Lake Louise, Icefields Parkway, Athabasca Falls, and admission to Columbia Icefield Glacier and Skywalk!

How to get around Jasper National Park?

A rental car is the most convenient way to explore the park. I recommend using Discover Cars as they check leading rental car brands and provide the best rates!

Shuttle services, public transportation, and bike rentals are also available for local travel. Most tours offer transportation from Jasper town.

When is the best time to visit Jasper National Park?

The best time to visit Jasper National Park is from June to September, when the lakes are not frozen, and most tours are operating. This is also the peak tourist season. The winter months of December to February are great for skiing and winter landscapes.

How many days do you need in Jasper National Park?

2-3 days are ideal for exploring most of the attractions in Jasper National Park mentioned in this article. We stayed in Jasper for two nights on our Canadian Rockies road trip and covered Icefields Parkway, Jasper Sky Tram, Maligne Lake, Maligne Canyon, and Lake Beauvert.

Final Takeaways: Is Jasper National Park Worth Seeing?

In conclusion, Jasper National Park is absolutely worth visiting. Its breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and range of activities make it a must-see destination in your trip to the Canadian Rockies.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a photographer, or someone looking to reconnect with nature, Jasper offers an experience that’s both invigorating and serene.

Related Posts

Check out other posts from my trip to the Canadian Rockies: