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16 Things to KNOW Before Riding the Jasper SkyTram

16 Things to KNOW Before Riding the Jasper SkyTram

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Jasper National Park is full of incredible sights, but some of the best can be seen from the Jasper SkyTram! The SkyTram takes you up to Whistlers Mountain and provides a panoramic view of the mountains and area below.

Taking the enclosed carriage to the top is super fun (and a little nerve-wracking) but the views are amazing. At the top, you’ll see six different mountain ranges, numerous lakes, the Athabasca River, and the town of Jasper. We try to visit Jasper whenever we’re in this part of Alberta and honestly, I never get tired of the view from up here.

Riding the Jasper SkyTram is definitely among the top experiences in Jasper that you don’t want to miss out on. It’s great for the whole family and you can really make a day of it by enjoying the activities at the top of the mountain.

Before you go, we’ve put together the 16 things you need to know before hopping aboard the Jasper SkyTram to make your visit as seamless as possible!

1. About the Jasper SkyTram 

Bailey stands on one of the viewpoints on the hiking trails at the top of the Jasper SkyTram
Go for a short hike for even more views!
The Jasper Sky Tram gets ready to leave the bottom station in Jasper National Park
All ready to leave the station!

The Jasper SkyTram is one of the unique ways to experience the Canadian Rockies and those breathtaking views that are so famous around here. This tram opened in 1964 after the Albertan adventurer, William McGregor, summited Whistlers Mountain in 1960 and wanted to share the experience with everybody! 

This impressive feat of engineering takes you up to an elevation of 2,263 meters (7,425 feet) in just 7 minutes! This is the highest and longest aerial tramway in Canada. 

As you ascend the mountain, the trained operator (known as the “flight attendant”) will provide information about the surrounding geology, cultural history, and plant and wildlife so you can better understand the landscape you’re flying over. Feel free to ask questions too – we found these guides to be a wealth of knowledge about Jasper.

Once you’re at the top, there is so much to do! Take a hike to explore the summit of Whistlers Mountain, check out one of the many viewpoints, or enjoy a meal at the restaurant that overlooks the vast area below. 

2. Where is the Jasper SkyTram?

Jasper Sky Tram travels up the moun tain with Snow on the tram
Photo credit: Jasper Skytram!

Located in Jasper National Park, the Jasper SkyTram sits at the bottom of Whistlers Mountain. The tram is 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) south of the town of Jasper – so around a 10-15-minute drive.

It’s also right off the Icefields Parkway if you’re driving from Jasper to Banff. It’s one of the best stops along the Icefields Parkway and close enough to Jasper town that you can conveniently pop in during your holiday. It’s recommended that you arrive 20 minutes before your scheduled tram ride, so keep that in mind as you plan your day. 

Hiking Whistlers Mountain is a much larger task, so we love that the SkyTram offers the same views with waaaay less effort.

3. When is the best time to visit the Jasper SkyTram? 

View out the window of the Jasper Skytram around halfway up
Up we go!

The best time to visit the Jasper SkyTram is in the morning or late afternoon. We found that this way you’ll either beat the rush or be arriving after most of the crowds have left.

If you are planning on hiking (which I highly recommend) heading up to the top in the morning is a great idea. It won’t be crowded up here so it’s a quieter hike and then you’ll work up an appetite to have a meal with a view at the restaurant up here after.

You can also get a cheaper price during the summer (a 20% discount) if you visit first thing in the morning from 8-10 am or are one of the last few rides in the evening from 7-9 pm.

People usually spend anywhere between 2-3 hours at the top, depending if you’re hiking, dining, or just checking out the views. You are required to select the time you will depart from the top to ensure the tram doesn’t get overcrowded, so plan ahead for what you might want to do! 

4. When is the Jasper SkyTram open?

Bailey poses for a photo at the top of the Jasper Sky Tram
We didn’t get the best weather, but it was still amazing!

The hours vary throughout the year and the SkyTram is completely closed during winter. Typically the tram opens in late March and stays open until the end of October.

Once the tram opens in the spring, it operates from 10 am to 5 pm from late March to mid-May. Then as the weather warms up, the mid-summer schedules kicks in and the tram opens from 9 am to 8 pm from mid-May to mid-June.

Then summer in Jasper arrives meaning more daylight and longer hours! The tram stays open from 8 am to 9 pm from the end of June until the beginning of September.

Fall hours from September to the end of October are 10 am to 5 pm.

The final tram ride down is one hour later than the last posted trip up the mountain. For example, if the posted time is 10 am to 5 pm, the last car goes down at 6 pm. 

Be sure to double-check the schedule online when you’re planning your visit!

5. Is there parking at the Jasper SkyTram?

View of the Jasper Skytram parking lot at surounding area as seen from the Jasper Skytram
The view and the parking lot below!

Yes, there is a big parking lot at the Jasper SkyTram! There is enough room to fit buses and RVs, so no matter what vehicle you’re adventuring in you can park it here. The best part is parking is free!

6. How much does the Jasper SkyTram cost? 

Jasper Sky Tram top building and walkways
The top walkway! Photo credit: Jasper Skytram!

Taking the Jasper SkyTram is one of those must-do activities while you’re in Jasper. The admission prices are:

  • Adults (16+ years) – $67 CAD
  • Youth (6-15) – $38 CAD
  • Children (under 6) – FREE
  • Dog ticket (per pet) – $10 CAD

Tickets can be booked online on the Jasper SkyTram website. If you’re looking for a better deal, from June to September, you can save 20% on tickets by taking the Early Bird (8-10 am) or Sunset (7-9 pm) rides.

The Jasper SkyTram is around the same price as many of the other gondolas in the Banff area, and we think this one is truly worth seeing. As the highest and longest tram ride in Canada, it is seriously impressive the whole journey! You can make a day of it by spending time at the top hiking, dining, and enjoying the breathtaking views. 

If you don’t already have one, you will also have to buy a Parks Pass to be in Jasper National Park. These are $11 CAD per day or there are yearly options available. I have more info below!

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 $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 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.)

  • $22.00 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) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 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.

7. Do you need to purchase tickets in advance?

View of Jasper from the top of the Jasper Sky Tram
View of Jasper from the top of the Jasper Sky Tram

Purchasing tickets in advance is a great idea, especially in the summer months. The busy season brings a lot of visitors, so booking your ticket ahead of time ensures you’ll get a spot for the time and day you want. However, if you don’t book in advance, you can still purchase tickets at the lower station upon arrival.

If you are visiting in spring or fall, it’s not as imperative to purchase in advance. But, if you know you’re going to visit, it never hurts to plan ahead!

8. How long is the Jasper SkyTram ride? 

The Jasper Skytram travels up Whislter Mountain in Jasper National Park, Canada

The Jasper SkyTram is the longest and highest aerial tram in Canada. In seven minutes, the cabin will ascend to 2,263 meters (7,425 feet). It cruises at six meters per second! The tram can hold up to 26 people in the cabin and departs every nine minutes, so it can accommodate a lot of visitors every day.

While the ride is pretty quick, you will certainly see all sorts of wildlife and plant life as you make your way to the top. In the summer months, you’ll see alpine wildflowers, marmots, ground squirrels, pikas, and maybe even bighorn sheep!

9. Is the Jasper SkyTram ride scary? 

If you are afraid of heights, the SkyTram might be a bit scary! The tram is more of a large carriage and is attached by the cable system above, so the natural swinging motion and the overall idea of being suspended in the air can certainly be frightening to some. We felt completely safe the whole time, but heights don’t bother either of us!

Most people who are afraid of heights say it is worth it in the long run. The ride is a quick seven minutes and once you’re at the top you can enjoy the beautiful views of Mt. Robson and the town of Jasper below. 

Related Read: If you want to stick closer to the ground, don’t miss seeing the powerful Athabasca Falls near Jasper!

10. What are the best things to do at the top of the Jasper SkyTram? 

Whistlers Peak at the top of the Jasper Skytram
Get even higher!

Hike to Whistlers Peak

One of the main draws of taking the SkyTram to the top is the hiking trails. The tram will drop you off at the upper station, which isn’t actually at the summit of the mountain. 

The Summit Trail will take you to the very top of Whistlers Peak! It is a 1.2-km (0.7 mile) trail each way and takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. The trail will take you up another 200 meters (650 feet) in elevation and offers a 360-degree view of the Rockies, Jasper, and the expansive wilderness below. To the north, you’ll get the best view of Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Rockies!

While it is a short hike, prepare for a bit of a workout. It’s absolutely worth it though! Here you’ll hear the sharp whistle of the hoary marmots, which is said to be part of the reason why this mountain is called Whistlers Peak. The weather at this high elevation can be unpredictable, so it’s best to be prepared and dress in layers. 

Check out the amazing viewpoints

The great thing about taking the Jasper SkyTram is that you can still see incredible views without having to hike! So if hiking isn’t your thing, you don’t have to miss out on seeing this beautiful area. 

Right outside the upper station is a boardwalk that offers two different viewpoints, as well as the three lookout points immediately around the station. You can also go for a short walk and explore the area at your leisure. There are various viewpoints that are accessible without having to climb to the summit. Regardless of what you choose, simply being at the top of Whistlers Mountain is sure to be a breathtaking experience. 

Have a meal at The Summit Cafe

Everyone loves to dine with a view, but not many people have the chance to dine on a mountaintop! 

The Summit Cafe is a great lunch spot, especially after you spend some time exploring the area. Located on the second floor of the Upper Station, the cafe offers panoramic views of the Rockies while you dine. The restaurant offers a full menu and is the perfect place to have some classic Canadian poutine. It’s a bit on the pricier side, averaging $16-$20 CAD, but the experience makes up for it!

If you’re hungry before your tram ride, the seasonal restaurant known as The Basecamp Cafe is another one of the Jasper cafes you can check out. This spot is located at the bottom of the tram and is more about convenience, so you can grab a coffee, muffin, or ice cream before or after your ride. It opens in May every year.

Whistlers Trail 

Hiking to the summit of Whistlers Mountain isn’t the only hiking option at the top. For a bit more of a challenge, you can take Whistlers Trail.

There are a few variations of this trail. You can start from the bottom of the mountain, climb up, and take the SkyTram down, or vice versa. 

If you decide to do the full hike, it is considered hard and should only be done by experienced hikers. It is an out-and-back trail that is a total of 16.6 km (10.3 miles). It is steep, but well-marked and offers incredible scenic views and a high probability of seeing the wildlife famous around Banff and Jasper!

The trail has switchbacks, bouldering, and some steep inclines, but if you’re up for a challenge it’s well worth it! The whole trail takes anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on your pace and which variation you hike. 

Note that the map of hiking trails on the SkyTram website only says this trail is 6.6 km, which might be a different variation of the same trail. I recommend asking local guides for more information at the lower station before taking off!

Related Read: A lesser-known hike around here that is totally worth doing is the hike to Mount Edith Cavell. You can even see the stunning Angel Glacier from here!

Snowshoeing 

Jasper Sky Tram snowshoeing
Explore the alpine without the hassle of hiking up! Photo credit: Jasper Skytram

Even though the Jasper SkyTram is closed during the winter, there is still some snow at the top when it opens in early spring. This gives you the chance to explore the summit by snowshoeing!

If you’ve only visited the SkyTram in summer, seeing it covered in snow makes it feel like a completely different place! The famous hike to Whistlers Peak can be done by snowshoeing, taking the 1.4-km (0.8-mile) trek on top of the snow. Snowshoeing is one of my favorite winter activities in Alberta and being able to do it at such great heights is a truly unique experience!

You can rent a pair of snowshoes at the upper station for $15.75 CAD. This makes for a fun day of exploring, then cozy up in the Summit Cafe to warm up when you’re done!

Shop at the gift shop 

After you’ve taken the tram to the top, soaked in the views, taken a walk or a hike, and dined at one of the cafes, the last thing you must see is the gift shop! This is the perfect way to commemorate your SkyTram ride. 

The gift shop is full of souvenirs that represent Jasper, from Indigenous-made crafts to informational materials about the area, or a cute stuffed animal! I always enjoy seeing what unique things are in gift shops. 

The Jasper SkyTram gift shop is located on the first floor of the Upper Station. It is open seasonally, as the tram is open, and has very reasonably priced items. It’s a good last stop before you take the tram back down so you can remember your time on top of the beautiful Whistlers Mountain!

11. What facilities are at the top of the Jasper SkyTram? 

Food at the Summit Cafe on the Jasper Sky Tram
Photo credit: Jasper Skytram!

The upper station is well-equipped to fulfill all of your needs! The two-story building holds the gift shop, the Summit Cafe, as well as washrooms and information. This is also where you can rent snowshoes if you are visiting in the early spring.

Outside offers hiking trails to Whistlers Peak Summiit and the Whistlers Trail. There are 11 official viewpoints, some with informational plaques telling which mountains are in the distance. 

12. Is the Jasper SkyTram wheelchair friendly? 

Yes, the Jasper SkyTram is mostly wheelchair friendly!

You can definitely ride to the top and enjoy the incredible views as you go. Once at the top, the boardwalk leads you to a few informational viewpoints, allowing you to see Jasper below, as well as various alpine lakes, wildflowers, and Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Rockies! All of this is wheelchair accessible.

The second floor of the upper station, where the Summit Cafe is located, is not wheelchair accessible. There are approximately twenty stairs to the second floor. Similarly, the 1.4-km (0.8-mile) hike on Whistlers Summit Trail is also not wheelchair accessible. 

13. Is the Jasper SkyTram pet-friendly? 

View out the window looking up as the Jasper Skytram travels up Whislter Mountain in Jasper National Park

Yes, the SkyTram is pet-friendly! You can purchase a dog ticket to ride in the carriage for $9 CAD. Lots of people bring their furry friends to the summit and I honestly love seeing the pups up there! 

Keep in mind that while dogs are allowed at the top, they are not allowed in the Summit Cafe. 

14. Is the Jasper SkyTram suitable for children and families?

The Jasper Sky Tram is a great family activity! Kids and adults alike get a thrill from riding the tram. It’s not every day you get to be suspended through the air surrounded by the beautiful Rockies!

The top of Whistlers Mountains is a great place to explore for people of all ages. Whether you stick to the boardwalk or venture out to hike the Summit Trail, there is plenty to do. Be sure to check out the gift shop and pick up a souvenir for the kiddos, or stop at the Summit Cafe for a hot chocolate before taking the tram back down!

Related Read: Another activity that’s great for adventerous families is taking a whitewater rafting tour in Jasper!

15. Tips for visiting the Jasper SkyTram

View of the trees as we travel up the Jasper Skytram in Jasper National Park

If you’ve never taken a gondola before, visiting the Jasper SkyTram might be one of the best to start with. To make sure you get the most out of your time, we have two tips!

First, be sure to allow at least 2 or 3 hours to visit. The ride to the top is just over 7 minutes, so you’ll certainly want more time to soak in the views. It is truly stunning from the top, and as Canada’s highest tram ride, it’s a pretty rare experience to have! Allowing a few hours will give you time to take a hike, grab a snack, and have a relaxing day at the top.

Secondly, bring layers! Even into the early summer months, there can be snow at the top. You will be very high in elevation, so the air is thinner and colder, and often changes rapidly! Bring warmer clothes than you think you’ll need and you should be prepared for anything. 

16. Is the Jasper SkyTram worth it?

Bailey looks down at Whistler from the top of the Jasper Skytram in Jasper National Park, Canada
Yes!

Yes, taking the Jasper SkyTram is totally worth it! This is known as one of the best scenic views in all of Jasper National Park. It’s a great way to see the park without actually hiking. We love that it’s accessible for so many people, not just avid hikers. 

While it is a little pricey, we think it’s worth the cost for the incredible views of the Rockies, Mt. Robson, and the entire Jasper National Park. Checking out the Jasper SkyTram must be added to your itinerary for your next visit!

Other Activities to do While You’re in Jasper

A person canoes around Spirit Island on Maligne Lake, Canada
Take a tour on Maligne Lake to see this famous spot!

Jasper National Park is filled with fun things to do and see! So besides taking the Jasper SkyTram, there are a few other activities that we recommend you try.

  • Whitewater rafting – Jasper is one of the best places in Alberta to go whitewater rafting with a few different rivers nearby. For an adrenaline-filled rafting experience complete with Class 3 rapids, opt for this rafting tour. It has nearly all 5-star reviews and costs $123 CAD per person. For something a little calmer and family-friendly but just as highly rated, choose this scenic rafting experience for only $85 CAD each.
  • Spirit Island – Maligne Lake is arguably the most famous lake in Jasper National Park. At Maligne Lake, you can hike, canoe on the lake, or eat at a lakeside restaurant. However, the best activity at the lake is this scenic Maligne Lake Cruise which takes you out on the water for the best vantage point. The cruise also takes you to the famous Spirit Island, which is so picture-perfect that you’ve likely seen it on Instagram before.
  • Explore Maligne Canyon – Located on the edge of Jasper town is the beautiful Maligne Canyon, where you can hike alongside and peer down into the deep canyon. There are also a few bridges you can walk on to really take in the views. In the winter, we highly recommend doing an icewalk in the canyon where you put on ice cleats and explore frozen waterfalls, ice caves, and walk in the middle of the frozen canyon!
  • Visit Pyramid Lake – Pyramid Lake is a calm lake that offers reflections of the surrounding mountains including the symmetrical Pyramid Mountain. In the summer you can swim, hike, canoe, and SUP on the lake. In winter, go ice skating or ride in a horse-drawn sleigh. For an extra special treat, spend the night lakeside at the Pyramid Lake Resort.

Where to Stay in Jasper

Outside of Jasper Downtown Hostel with mountains in the background
This is a great affordable option in Jasper! Photo credit: Jasper Downtown Hostel

To really take in the sights and the hikes, it’s worth staying in Jasper for a few days! That way you can easily get to places like the Jasper SkyTram before the crowds!

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!

These are 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, shared facilities, and friendly atmosphere make it a great place to stay. They offer budget dorm beds as well as affordable private rooms. You can book Jasper Downtown Hostel on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.

Whistlers Inn (Moderate to High 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 – need I say more? You can check prices and availability on Booking.com.

Pyramid Lake Resort (Luxury)

Pyramid Lake Resort 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 those visiting Jasper on a honeymoon!

You can check availability and book on Booking.com.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

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!

Daniel and Bailey at the top of the Skytram in Jasper, Canada
Thanks for reading!

Hopefully, these tips on riding the Jasper SkyTram have been helpful as you plan your visit! We’ve spent lots of time exploring this area, and it’s definitely one of those “must-do” items in Jasper National Park.

While you’re exploring Jasper, make sure to browse around all of our Jasper blogs – there are a ton of them! A few you might find helpful are:

5 BEST Wildlife Tours in Jasper, Canada

Where to Stay on the Icefields Parkway: The BEST Hotels + Campgrounds

5 Absolute BEST Restaurants in Jasper with epic views & food!

12 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Sunwapta Falls, Jasper

Prasath Sankarapandian

Thursday 29th of June 2023

Hi, Thanks so much for the great details about Jasper-Banff road trip, it really helped us a lot in planning the trip. Keep posting and all the very best for your future travels.