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Jasper is one of my favorite destinations to visit in Canada! It’s a small town inside Jasper National Park is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. It has turquoise lakes, world-class skiing, incredible hiking, and so many great places to explore. I lived in Edmonton, only three hours from Jasper for many years, so road-tripping here was something that I did often. Now Daniel and I try to stop by when we’re traveling in the area as this little mountain town has a piece of our hearts.
Planning an Edmonton to Jasper road trip is a great way to enjoy the contrasts of both places – a big city with lots of fun attractions and a small town with gorgeous scenery to kick back and enjoy the outdoors.
But don’t forget about the drive between these two places! It can be a fun experience too with some unique stops along the way that add to the trip.
Here’s a list of some of the best places along the drive from Edmonton to Jasper to give you some ideas! Even if you only pick a couple of these stops, it will help break up the drive with fun options like hiking, hot springs, places for great photos, and more.
Note: This road trip also works in reverse order if you’re driving from Jasper to Edmonton!
About the Drive from Edmonton to Jasper
The drive from Edmonton to Jasper is about 365 kilometers (226 miles) and should take about four hours if you drive without stopping. The entire drive is on Highway 16, which is the main highway in the area.
This can be a busier drive – especially on weekends. Make sure to allow yourself extra time if you’re planning to leave Edmonton during peak driving times. The worst traffic will be during the morning rush hour from about 7-8 a.m. and the evening rush hour from 4-6 p.m. If you’re planning a weekend getaway, Friday evening traffic (especially in the summer) is especially bad from that 4-6p.m. time.
If you’re making the trip in winter, which I totally recommend for the fantastic winter activities Jasper has to offer, check road conditions before you go. It’s best to drive in daylight, so leave Edmonton in the morning and plan to arrive in Jasper before dark if you’re not planning to stay the night along this route.
Ensure your car has winter tires or good all-season tires to navigate any slippery or icy sections of the road. The highway will be prioritized for clearing after a snowfall, but you don’t want to be driving in the middle of the blizzard. Conditions can also change while you’re driving, so be prepared to stay a night along the route if wintery weather blows in.
Keep an eye out for animals – especially as you get closer to Jasper. Larger animals like deer can be hiding in the ditches next to the road. Once you enter Jasper National Park, wildlife is even more common, so be aware while you’re on the road – you could spot moose, elk, bighorn sheep, bears or wolves.
Jasper National Park requires a Park Pass to enter. A daily pass is $10.50 CAD per adult, but if you’re planning a longer stay (or will visit multiple national parks this year), get a Discovery Pass. These are around $70 CAD per adult and give you unlimited entry to all national parks for 12 months. You can order these online before your trip and the passes will be mailed out to you.
11 BEST Stops on the Drive from Edmonton to Jasper
Before you leave, don’t forget to explore Edmonton! It is Alberta’s capital city and is full of great restaurants and full things to do and see – you just need to know where to look!
Of course, the West Edmonton Mall is a huge draw. It’s the second-largest mall in North America! The West Ed is a major destination with more than 800 stores, attractions like a water park, indoor skating rink and roller coasters, two hotels, and restaurants galore. While shopping until you drop is fun, check out this list of ideas for all the things you can do in West Edmonton Mall besides shopping!
One of the best things to do in Edmonton is to explore the beautiful River Valley. It’s 22 times the size of Central Park in New York! It’s a great destination in any season with 150 kilometers (93 miles) of trails – many that are cleared throughout the winter or perfect for cross-country skiing.
A cool tour option here is this 90-minute segway adventure which allows you to tour this massive park on a segway vehicle! Make sure to check out one of my favorite spots to see the city skyline with a walk over the Walterdale Bridge! You can even explore the river in the summer with a relaxing cruise or a fun speedboat ride around the islands with Black Gold River Tours.
Don’t forget to check out Edmonton’s Neon Sign Museum! This is a great night-time activity as all the signs light up 104 street on the east side of the TELUS building and the south side of Mercer Warehouse. There are more than 20 neon signs that have been restored and showcase some of the well-known businesses of Edmonton’s past. I like grabbing a drink across the street at Mercer Tavern to have a great view of the signs.
If you want some more ideas check out all the awesome tours available in Edmonton here!
Where to Stay in Edmonton:
There are tons of different hotels to choose from spread across Edmonton.
Many hotels are located on the west side of the city near West Edmonton Mall. Stay in one of Fantasyland Hotel’s gorgeous theme rooms for something really special.
Staying downtown is perfect for anybody who wants a central stay with easy access to most of the activities and attractions in this blog. To be right near Rogers Place and Jasper Ave, stay at the luxurious JW Marriott. This is one of the nicest hotels in Edmonton and it’s simply stunning. They also have an indoor pool and hot tub.
2. Spruce Grove
Spruce Grove is a small city that I actually called home for many years. Although it isn’t really touristy and doesn’t offer much in terms of attractions, there are some really special places to eat here! Seriously, every time I visit my mom who still lives there, we have to go out to eat.
After clearing all the traffic between Edmonton and Spruce Grove, consider stopping at the locally-owned Broadway and Grand. They have the BEST burgers with local beef that is ground fresh daily. Try the B&G Burger with double-smoked bacon, cheddar, and caramelized onions with a side of Truffle Fries including truffle salt, parmesan, and rosemary garlic aioli. I’m getting hungry already!
There are also a couple of great breweries in town. Talking Dog Brewing is great for craft beer and they all have fun names (the owners say they’re big dog people). Try out Chase Your Tail Nut Brown Ale, Wet Nose Oatmeal Stout, or Sled Dog Spiced Winter Ale.
If you want a snack for your road trip from Edmonton to Jasper you just have to stop at Wilhauk Beef Jerky. I guarantee this will be the best beef jerky you’ve ever had. People drive from all over the province just to buy this stuff – it’s just that good.
3. Pembina Provincial Park/Pembina River Float
One of my personal favorite provincial parks in Alberta is Pembina. I spent my teenage years in Spruce Grove, so Pembina River was always our go-to spot for swimming and camping. It’s a beautiful river, and the area within the provincial park is the best.
At Pembina Provincial Park you can book a campsite (should book in advance as it is really popular) and stay here. They have both powered and non-powered campsites suitable for tents as well as trailers/RVs. Camping reservations can be made on the Alberta Parks website.
Or, you can just stop in and enjoy the Day Use area. At the day-use area, you can relax at the river’s edge and go for a swim. In this area, the river is very calm, so it is a good swimming spot. There are also toilets and picnic tables available.
Another good way to enjoy the Pembina River is to do the Pembina River float. You can drive to the starting point and either pay to park, rent a tube, or even organize return transport from the endpoint. There is a business set up here (the only place to access the river) that will help you plan your float.
The last time we did it, we rented tubes and took advantage of the transport and it cost about $34 CAD per person. During the peak of summer, they do sometimes get fully booked so you should book your place online in advance to avoid disappointment – this even goes for just parking/river access.
This is the halfway point of the drive from Edmonton to Jasper, so a good place to get out and stretch your legs. If you want a unique road trip photo, head to the Edson Travel Center, which is easily accessible off the highway, for a photo with the giant squirrel!
Then take a stroll through the Galloway Station Museum, which is an old train station located in the same building as the travel center. The museum takes you through Edson’s wild west past, has a life-sized trapper’s cabin, a mine shaft exhibit, and artifacts from the Grande Truck Pacific Canadian Northern and Canadian National Railways. The museum is open seven days a week in the summer and closed Sundays during the rest of the year. Admission is $5 CAD per adult.
This small town is called the “Gateway to the Rockies” because of its proximity to the mountains. The scenery around here and from this point in the trip starts to get really great! Hinton itself is a fun little place to pop into with good spots to fill up on gas or grab a bite to eat.
While you’re in Hinton, the “Beaver Boardwalk” is a must-see. This 3-kilometer (1.8 mile) wooden boardwalk surrounds Maxwell Lake and is the longest freshwater boardwalk in the world! The boardwalk takes you through marshlands and lets you get close to the active beaver dam and lodge – sometimes there are as many as a dozen beavers hard at work!
The best time to see beavers here is in the early morning or evening and you might also spot deer, birds, and butterflies. It’s the perfect place to stop and stretch your legs on your drive from Edmonton to Jasper.
In the winter, take tobogganing to a whole new level by going luge sledding. The Hinton Luge Association has a huge 950-meter (3,100 feet) groomed snow track! You can book a lesson here so you’re prepared for the fast ride down! Bring a helmet (if you have one) and winter clothing. It’s a 20-minute walk up the hill where lessons start, so arrive early. Spots can be booked by calling them directly at 780-865-2922 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a coffee break in Hinton, I recommend The Old Grind. This café has excellent coffee with all the coffee beans from Rocky Mountain Roasters in Jasper. Pair it with a homemade goody like one of their raspberry white chocolate scones, cinnamon buns, or a slice of signature cherry cheesecake – yum!!
Where to Stay in Hinton:
There are lots of very affordable hotels in Hinton which makes it a good place to stay for a night or two. Econolodge Inn and Suites is a top choice with a central location and affordable price.
For something a bit nicer there is a highly-rated Best Western Plus Hinton Inn & Suites.
6. Folding Mountain Brewing Taproom and Kitchen
Just 10 minutes west of Hinton on the very edge of Jasper National Park is this great stop for a drink. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a craft beer with a view – at Folding Mountain Brewery try and grab a seat on their patio if you can! In the winter when it’s too cold for the patio, the tasting room is the perfect spot to admire the Rocky Mountains while having a drink.
Some favorites here include the Folding Mountain Lager, Alpine Cranberry Sour or the Moraine West Coat IPA brewed with fresh Rocky Mountain water. They also have a full food menu with a great selection of sandwiches and appetizers to pair with a drink or two.
The Overlander Mountain Lodge is a hotel right on site, so it’s a good place to spend a night. This is where you should stay if you’re wanting to have a couple of drinks. That way you can try out a few different craft beers and then just walk back to your room to enjoy the amazing scenery. Then you can set off to Jasper for the final leg of your trip in the morning.
7. Sulphur Skyline Trail
This hiking trail offers some of the best panoramic views of the Jasper area! But it isn’t for beginners. The hike is about eight kilometers (five miles) roundtrip and takes anywhere from 4-6 hours. The elevation gain is quite steep to get to the summit, so you’ll need good shoes too.
The Sulphur Skyline hiking trail starts right by the Miette Hot Springs – so you can take a well-earned soak after the strenuous climb. Look for the start of the trail at the southeast end of the parking lot.
Once you reach the top of the trail, you’ll see the Fiddle River Valley with the river winding through and mountains galore! Particularly spectacular is Utopia Mountain, the cliffs of the Ashlar Ridge, and the grey limestone peaks of the Miette Range.
One thing to note is that this trailhead location is a bit of a detour from the most direct route when driving from Edmonton to Jasper. However, if you want an epic hike, this small detour is totally worth it.
8. Miette Hot Springs
As I mentioned above this is the perfect road trip stop to relax and take a much-needed break from driving at the hottest natural springs in Canada! The water flows from the mountains at a balmy 54°C (129°F) and has to be cooled down for the hot springs pool to a more comfortable 40°C (104°F).
The Miette Hot Springs has four different pools – two hot and two cold – to relax and enjoy the natural mineral water. Soak in the mountain views and you might even spot some wildlife while you’re swimming!
It costs $16.50 CAD per person to swim here and there are locker and shower facilities with changing rooms. It can get busy here, so avoid the crowds by coming here in the morning.
Note: Miette Hot Springs are typically only open from May to September each year. The exact date changes due to the weather, so be sure to check before you go!
9. Jasper House National Historic Site
This is a nice little spot right off the highway to go for a short 10-minute walk through the forest and visit a place with lots of history. Jasper House isn’t actually a house anymore, but it was a very important location for the fur trade.
For almost half a century in the 1800s, Jasper House supported the Hudson’s Bay Company for trading and selling goods and furs from east to west. This was the main place for fur traders in the area to stop and also an important meeting place for anyone passing through.
While the actual log buildings that made up Jasper House are gone, you can still gaze out into the clearing where they were located. Follow the short trail to a wooden platform overlooking the Athabasca River and the Jasper House Historic Site. There are some really nice spots for photos here! While the site is always open, sometimes it’s not accessible in the winter because of snow blocking the way.
10. Jasper Lake Sand Dunes
This is an amazing natural wonder on the way from Edmonton to Jasper – the only sand dunes in the Canadian Rockies! These sand dunes were formed during the last ice age at the edge of Jasper Lake.
Jasper Lake here is very shallow – typically only a few feet. It’s a cool experience to wade into the water here and you could even potentially walk to the other shore. But be aware that the water is very cold (it’s icy glacial meltwater) – so even on the hottest summer day, your feet will get cold quickly! The lake is very calm and the sand makes for a nice beach, so this is a great place to relax for a little while.
This area is along the highway between Jasper Lake and Talbot Lake, but there’s only a small pullover bay (tiny parking lot). Keep an eye out for it on your left-hand side if driving in the direction from Edmonton to Jasper.
You’ve arrived! And what a fantastic place to be. Jasper is truly one of the most beautiful areas of the country. It’s an amazing mountain town with stunning scenery and so many different activities to try. You won’t be bored here!
Jasper is fantastic at all times of the year, but there’s something extra special about coming here in December. No matter when you come, you’ll find it’s not as busy and touristy as Banff and has a small-town charm to it. Dan and I have been here many times and no matter when we visit, we always have a blast.
While Jasper is a smaller center, there are still plenty of choices for places to stay. I personally like staying right in Jasper Town to be close to everything. Hiking or skiing and other outdoor activities are only a short drive away and then there are lots of options for food and drinks.
While you’re here, make sure to take in one of the great Jasper tours on offer and check out a few of our favorite spots:
- SkyTram – Get a bird’s eye view of Jasper from the peak of Whistlers Mountain aboard the SkyTram. It’s a large mountain gondola that can carry up to 24 people. At the top, you can explore an indoor area, gift shop, and eat at a restaurant with some pretty amazing views. Visiting the Jasper SkyTram is possible from April to October and it’s best to book ahead as there are only two trams.
- Maligne Lake – I’ve been here several times and keep coming back – it’s a stunning turquoise-blue lake surrounded by mountain peaks, pine trees, and glaciers. It’s like a photograph coming to life and one of the best places to visit in Alberta! I recommend taking the famous Maligne Lake Cruise that showcases the beauty of the lake including the spectacular Spirit Island that is one of the most photographed places in Jasper National Park. There’s so much to do at Maligne Lake, set aside a day or at least a few hours to explore here. Many wildlife tours in Jasper also visit Maligne Lake.
- Athabasca Falls – If you’re going to see one waterfall while you’re here, make it this one! The popular trail, about 30 minutes from Jasper town on the Icefields Parkway, is only one km long. The scenery along the hike is impressive, but the falls themselves are next level. The power of the water cascading down in the summer is breathtaking. In the winter, Athabasca Falls freezes and transforms into something magical – you have to see it in person! Near the falls you can conveniently take a guided tour like this one in a specially adapted vehicle that will take you out onto the Athabasca Glacier for an up-close look! It costs $104 CAD and books out quickly due to its popularity.
- Marmot Basin – this is easily one of the most epic things to do in Jasper during the winter! Hit the slopes here, only 20 minutes outside of Jasper, to try out 91 different runs for beginners all the way through to advanced. What’s nice is the variety of runs for all levels from each lift – meaning I can grab a green or blue run to ski down while Dan takes a more challenging black one on his snowboard, but we still can go up the lift together. Marmot Basin is open from mid-November until early May and gets over 400 centimeters (more than 13 feet!) of snow every year.
- Downtown Jasper – Connaught Street is the busiest street in town and a lot of fun to wander around. You’ll probably notice the big train along here and the historic train station behind it that is still used today. Stopping at some of the unique shops along here to pick up souvenirs or grab a bite to eat is another great thing to do in Jasper. I love having supper on the rooftop patio at Jasper Pizza Place. The views are incredible (especially at sunset) and the pizza is delicious – it’s one of the many amazing restaurants in Jasper!
- Whitewater Rafting – While you may think this is only for adventure-seekers, whitewater rafting in Jasper is a great activity for the whole family! When you sign-up for a whitewater rafting tour, youll be taken to a beautiful stretch of river behind Athabasca Falls. It’s full of Class II rapids (exciting, but not scary!) with towering limestone cliffs all around you. I loved this unique and thrilling way to see Jasper. The rafting lasts about an hour and 15 minutes and bring a towel with you to dry off after!
- Pyramid Island Boardwalk – this spot is stunningly beautiful with mountains reflected in the glass-like waters of Pyramid Lake. It’s a really romantic spot for a walk or picnic if you’re planning your honeymoon in Jasper! The boardwalk out to Pyramid Island is picture-perfect and you’ll get 360-degree views of the mountains.
Once you’re done in Jasper, keep the road trip going by heading to Banff! The drive from Jasper to Banff is incredible as you’ll pass through gorgeous valleys and next to waterfalls along the famous Icefields Parkway (Highway 93). You can also check out our full guide for driving from Edmonton to Banff for more tips.
Essential Tips for Driving from Edmonton to Jasper
- Avoid leaving Edmonton during peak traffic times (morning and evening rush hours) and give yourself extra time on the drive.
- This road trip from Edmonton to Jasper can be done in around four hours without stopping, but I encourage you to plan for an entire day to take your time and stop into a few of these suggested spots. Or better yet, stay a night partway through the journey and turn this into a multi-day road trip!
- Plan to do this road trip during daylight hours. This makes it easier to spot wildlife (especially once you enter Jasper National Park) and is safer for winter driving as you can see if there are icy sections or blowing snow.
- If you’re driving during the winter, check weather conditions before you leave. Make sure your car has winter tires or all-season tires and drive carefully. Stay a night partway through the trip if the weather takes a turn for the worst.
- Remember that Jasper National Park requires a Park Pass. A Discovery Pass can be ordered online ahead of time and mailed out to you – this is good for a year of visits to national parks. Or be prepared to pay $10 CAD per person for a daily pass.
Related Read: Heading to Lake Louise next? Read our blogs about the best stops on the drive between Jasper and Lake Louise! Or if you’d rather head right to Lake Louise, this is our guide to driving from Edmonton to Lake Louise.
Parks Canada Pass Quick Info
If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.
Single Daily Admission:
This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.
- Adult (ages 18-64) is $10.50 CAD
- Senior (65+) is $9.00 CAD
- Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE
Group Daily Admission:
If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)
- $21.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day
Parks Canada Discovery Pass
The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.
- Adult (age 18-64) – $72.25 CAD
- Senior (64+) – $61.75 CAD
- Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $145.25 CAD
Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!
Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.
Where to Stay in Jasper
When compared to Banff (and the dozens of hotels in Banff), there actually aren’t that many to choose from in Jasper. That’s right, accommodation in Jasper is limited, and therefore it’s important to book your stay as far in advance as possible!
Here, I’ve handpicked some of my personal favorite hotels in Jasper suitable for any type of traveler with any type of budget!
Jasper Downtown Hostel (Budget Backpackers)
Jasper Downtown Hostel is the best place to stay for those on a tight budget. The central location just a couple blocks from shops and restaurants, shared facilities, and a friendly atmosphere make it a great place to stay. They offer budget dorm beds as well as affordable private rooms ranging from $45 – $179 CAD.
Whistlers Inn (Moderate Budget)
Whistlers Inn is the perfect place to stay if you are looking for a nice escape right in town and only a short walk from popular bars, restaurants, and attractions in Jasper. They also have a rooftop hot tub (pictured above) – need I say more? Because of its reasonable price of $300 CAD or less, it books up quickly so make sure to try and reserve as soon as you can!
You can check prices and availability on Booking.com.
Forest Park Hotel (Moderate to High Budget)
Forest Park Hotel is a great place to stay if you want a comfortable stay for a reasonable price right in town. There are some standard rooms, as well as some units with kitchenettes.
The rate for a queen room with two beds averages around $400 CAD. The hotel has an indoor pool and spa on-site as well as a gym and two restaurants. One is for breakfast and another for dinner and drinks – be sure to order their Detriot-style deep-dish pizza!
You can check prices and book Forest Park Hotel on Booking.com.
Pyramid Lake Resort (Luxury)
This place is beautiful, and it is set in an even more beautiful location! Pyramid Lake is the perfect place for hiking, swimming, kayaking, or even skating in the winter.
Pyramid Lake Resort doesn’t cut any corners and it’s a highly-rated hotel. It’s also a popular place to stay for couples – some rooms have a cozy fireplace to snuggle up around.
There is also a gym and hot tub to make use of! Prices vary based on the time of year but expect a room during the summer to run around $400 CAD a night.
You can check availability and book on Booking.com.
For more detailed info on the best hotels and areas to stay in Jasper, read our blog!
Renting a Car in Alberta
If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.
Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Thanks for reading!
Jasper is a stunning destination in Canada that is beautiful in all seasons. The drive from Edmonton to Jasper is a fun trip in itself with plenty of interesting stops along the way. There’s everything from hiking, breweries, hot springs, and some cute small towns to visit. I hope you have plenty of ideas to plan your own epic trip in the Rocky Mountains!
Be sure to check out some of our other blog articles about the area too: