Seven Bears and Lemon Squares
I live in Calgary, Alberta, so Jasper National Park is essentially local. It attracts visitors from around the world, but crazy as it seems I have never been there until now. We visit Banff National Park several times a year, but I was blown away by the spectacular natural beauty of Jasper. Whereas in Banff there is more of a focus of the town itself, in Jasper it’s all about experiencing nature, whether by foot, bike, horseback or paddle.
Highlights of Jasper National Park
- Lots of Wildlife
- The Jasper Skytram
- Maligne Canyon
- Maligne Lake
- Pyramid Lake and Island
- Dinner at the Raven Bistro
- Gaze at the Stars
- Map of Jasper Area Highlights
Lots of Wildlife
After only 48 hours in Jasper I saw seven bears! That’s more bears than in my entire life living near the Canadian rockies. Spotting a bear is quite exciting, preferably from a good distance or the safety of our car. I have always been a bit paranoid about meeting up with a bear but this time we were prepared. Check my post on what to do if you see a bear.
On this trip we also saw big horn sheep, deer, elk and birds.
The Jasper Skytram
The Jasper Skytram was a definite must do on our list, and the views from the top are simply spectacular. Once you arrive at the upper station you can simply take in the views of the surrounding mountains, glacial lakes, rivers and the town of Jasper, or you can follow the trail further up to the summit of the mountain for even more awesome views. We arrived first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds, and it was a perfect day with blue skies, so we could see for miles.
If you are just going up the Skytram no special footwear is necessary, but if you are continuing further up the trails, runners with a good tread or hiking boots are helpful.
- Tram Upper Station altitude of 2277 metres (7472 ft)
- Website: www.jasperskytram.com
- Adults $35 (youth/family pricing available)
- Well behaved dogs are welcome
- 8 km from Jasper
- Before hiking further up the mountain we stopped for some breakfast at the cafe. A great spot for a table with a view!
Beautiful, free and must-see! Maligne Canyon is a deep narrow crevice carved into the limestone and can’t be seen until your are upon it. There are good pathways along the canyon, and lots of spots to view the water rushing through. In the winter the water becomes ice and you can explore it from the bottom. We brought a picnic but there is also a cafe onsite.
- 11 km from Jasper
It’s not surprising that Maligne Lake with its bright turquoise water is one of the most photographed in Canada. The view of the glacial lake surrounded by mountains is stunning, and if you take the boat cruise to Spirit Island you will see many more shades of blue along the way. If possible, plan your visit on a sunny day for the best viewing.
After our cruise we stopped for a snack in Maligne Lake’s View Restaurant. They have salads, sandwiches, homemade soups, stews and baked goods. Along with other tasty treats I spied lemon squares so I had to try them. I’m a lemon square aficionado, as my mom makes the best lemon squares, but I have to say these were really delicious and pretty much perfect!
Next time I’ll have to try the traditional afternoon tea at the Chalet, which includes a selection of tea, sandwiches, treats and strawberries.
- Maligne lake boat cruise tickets: Adults $64 (recommend checking out combo packages)
- Canoe/kayaks available for rent
- Maligne Lake’s View Restaurant
- Afternoon Tea at the Maligne Lake Chalet (reservations essential)
- For more info check their website: www.malignelake.com
- 48 km from Jasper
Pyramid Lake and Island
Just a short drive from Jasper is Pyramid Lake, and connected by footbridge, Pyramid Island. It’s a photogenic, peaceful place for a walk, picnic or paddle.
- Canoe/kayaks available for rent
- 7 km from Jasper
Gaze at the Stars
Jasper National Park is the world’s largest accessible official Dark Sky Preserve at 11,228 sq km. For more info check jasperdarksky.org or on a clear night step out and look up!
Dine out at The Raven Bistro
We enjoyed a lot of great food in Jasper, but our best meal was easily at The Raven Bistro. We chose the “Kitchen Confidential,” which is the chef’s choice and changes regularly. Ours had a small soup, 4 tapas-sized plates including a tuna dish and an excellent venison, and a chocolate dessert. The service was friendly, the food tasty and well presented, and at $26 it was a bargain.
504 Patricia Street, Jasper, Jasper National Park, Alberta
Highlights of Jasper National Park Map
Save some money and avoid the line-ups
There are combo tickets available for Skytram/Maligne boat cruise, or Maligne boat cruise/Afternoon tea and others. Check the websites to see what packages might interest you in advance to save money and avoid waiting in line for your ticket.
The drive to Jasper from Banff via the 232 km Icefields Parkway has been called the most scenic drive in the world. Highly recommended.
Where to stay
As with most mountain park accommodations, if you can visit in shoulder season, June or September, your wallet will thank you.
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
This 700 acre resort has lots of amenities, including a world-class golf course, spa, restaurants, and a beautiful setting next to Lac Beauvert. It has more of a rustic style than other Fairmont accommodations such as the Banff Springs Hotel. There are renovations happening at the Lodge, but our room hadn’t been and it was a little tired. I would still recommend the Lodge if you get either a good price or a renovated room. Pet-friendly.
These cosy cabins are located just outside the town of Jasper along the Athabasca river. The cabins are rustic but charming and they really provided the mountain park atmosphere we were looking for. They have wood-burning fireplaces, kitchenettes, and chairs on the small decks to enjoy the outdoors. There is also a nice pathway and chairs with a great view overlooking the river. Tekarra Lodge is also pet-friendly.