30 EPIC Things to do in Jasper, Canada
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If you’re planning a trip to Jasper, Canada then this blog is for you! It outlines the 30 fun things to do in Jasper and includes everything from the most popular and exciting tourist attractions to local secrets that you may have never heard of before!
Jasper is a small town located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies in Jasper National Park. With endless hiking trails, dozens of turquoise lakes, and one of Canada’s top-rated ski fields, Jasper is an ideal destination for any outdoor enthusiast.
But there is more to Jasper then what most think.
You see, I lived only a short 3-hour drive west of Jasper for many years. Daniel and I have also visited Jasper on numerous occasions throughout our frequent travels around western Canada. We’ve discovered that while it is a great place for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter, there is a ton of other fun and exciting things to do in Jasper and nearby – activities that many visitors, unfortunately, miss out on!
For that reason, we’ve compiled this comprehensive list of what we think are the 30 absolute best things to do in Jasper, Canada. The activities listed here are ones we personally love and lots are lesser-known attractions. We’ve also included a range of things to do both in the winter and the summer so you’ll have lots of choices no matter what season you visit!
Things to do in Jasper, Canada
1. Take a Flight on the SkyTram
I had to start my blog with one of the most popular things to do in Jasper – the SkyTram! Riding the Jasper SkyTram has gained popularity simply because it is just that awesome – the views you get from the peak of Whistlers Mountain are unmatched by any other view.
The Jasper Skytram is different than all of the other mountain gondolas offered around Canada. Instead of a small gondola or chairlift, the Skytram is actually a larger cart where up to 24 people stand in the tram. The tram then climbs Whistlers Mountain at a speed of 6 meters per second all while your “flight attendant” tells you all about this historic tram and Jasper.
At the end of your ride, you’ll reach a viewing platform complete with an indoor area, gift shop, and restaurant. There is also a 1.4 kilometer-long hike you can do to reach the summit of Whistler Mountain! No matter where you go up here you’re going to be met with some amazing views!
When Dan and I recently rode the Jasper SkyTram we didn’t get the best weather and it was rainy, windy, and cloudy! But with that said, from up that high the views were still amazing and to me, it’s an activity well-worth doing in Jasper – even if it isn’t a bluebird day.
The Jasper SkyTram is open from April to October each year between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm. Because there are only two trams, they can only transport a limited number of people at one time. For this reason, you should book your SkyTram flight well in advance to secure your departure time slot.
When you book, you will be given a scheduled time that you will ride the tram up the mountain. But once at the top, you can take your time and catch any tram back down at any time before they close for the day.
2. Go Whitewater Rafting
Whitewater rafting is often classified as an adventure activity for those who are looking for a thrilling ride. While this can be true, the great thing about going whitewater rafting in Jasper is that the different rivers offer many different rafting experiences!
That’s right, even small children or grandparents can go whitewater rafting in Jasper!
The whitewater rafting trip we did with Jasper Rafting Adventures on the Athabasca River was the perfect mix of an exciting ride while still being scenic and chill. The rapids were Class 2, meaning there were some larger rapids at times but nothing too hectic. There were kids on the boat who had a good time without being scared and nobody fell off or even got close – although a few of the kids jumped off for a swim by choice!
There are a few other rafting experiences available in Jasper too, there is an even more relaxed and classified as a “scenic raft” available, while the Class 3 rapids at Sunwapta are a lot more exciting for those looking for a bit more adventure!
The truth is though, that no matter what rafting experience you choose you’re going to have a great time! It’s such a beautiful place to raft and from out on the river you get views that many miss. Not to mention, rafting is a blast – it’s definitely a must-do activity in Jasper if you ask me!
3. Walk the Pyramid Lake Boardwalk
Pyramid Lake is one of the many amazing lakes near Jasper. Located only a 10-minute drive from Jasper town, Pyramid Lake is a clam lake that sits at the base of Pyramid Mountain creating a picture-perfect setting.
My favorite thing to do at Pyramid Lake is to walk the boardwalk out to the island. From here, you get 360-degree views of the mountains! There is limited parking near the boardwalk so it is best to come first thing in the morning or later in the evening to have a better chance of getting a spot.
Just around the lake from the boardwalk there is also a beach area for swimming or renting kayaks or paddleboards as well as a restaurant and hotel. Pyramid Lake Resort would be an amazing place to stay if you want to spend lots of time at the lake, particularly when it is less busy at night and early morning.
We only spent about an hour at Pyramid Lake, just walking around and enjoying the views. For us, that was enough time, but if you want to relax on the beach you could easily spend a whole day here!
4. Eat Jerk Chicken
I know what you’re thinking – jerk chicken in the mountains?! This is one of those “local secrets” I was talking about at the beginning of this blog and it’s a place you cannot miss if you want a great lunch.
The Spice Joint is a small café located in the heart of Jasper town. They specialize in Jamaican food and you guessed it, jerk chicken! Daniel and I were recommended this place by some friends and ever since trying it we have been back on every single Jasper trip we’ve taken.
Our personal favorites are the crab grilled cheese and the jerk chicken grilled cheese. However, they also serve lots of sandwiches, wraps, salad, and more!
The Spice Joint is open every day except for Wednesdays from 11 am until 5 pm, except on Fridays and Saturdays when they close at 7 pm. Expect to pay about $15 CAD for a dish.
5. Visit Spirit Island
Spirit Island is likely the most photographed spot in all of Jasper National Park. In fact, you’ve probably seen a photo similar to the one above on postcards or plastered all over Instagram – it is simply stunning.
You can’t walk onto spirit island as it is a place of significance to the indigenous people. You can, however, walk on the mainland across form it where there is a viewing platform and trail.
The only problem with visiting Spirit Island is getting there. The island is located a 14-kilometer kayak away from the nearest road and car parking lot in Home Bay. For this reason, many people make use of the backcountry campsites along the way and turn it into a multi-day kayaking adventure.
But there is one very easy way to get to Spirit Island that involves no paddling at all and that’s the Maligne Lake Cruise (which is the next activity in this blog!)
6. Go on the Maligne Lake Cruise
Going on the Maligne Lake Cruise is the fastest and easiest way to get to Spirit Island. The cruise departs right from the shore of Maligne Lake next to the car parking lot and takes you all the way out to Spirit Island and then back again.
But the cruise isn’t just about seeing Spirit Island, it is about enjoying the amazing scenery around Maligne Lake including towering mountains and glaciers. It’s a guided cruise and your guide will provide tons of informative commentary along the way. When Dan and I were on the cruise, we found our guide to be really funny and he answered lots of questions we had!
Cruises depart regularly between the months of June and October. It costs about $75 CAD, however, there are sometimes promotions and discounts too depending on the time you choose. The cruise lasts 1.5 hours, with about 20 minutes of that time spent walking the viewpoint to Spirit Island.
Note: The cruise departs from the Maligne lake car parking lot which is about a 45-minute drive from Jasper town. The drive itself is absolutely stunning also one of the best things to do in Jasper on its own. My advice would be to give yourself some extra time to stop at viewpoints along the drive (like the next activity on this list!)
7. Drive to Medicine Lake
Along the road to Maligne Lake, there is another large lake called Medicine Lake. Medicine Lake is breathtaking and although just a quick stop along the drive out Maligne, to me, it’s well worth a mention.
There is a small parking lot as well as a staircase leading down to the lake. It is more about enjoying the view than anything here, but it would also make a lovely picnic spot!
Medicine Lake is located about a 30-minute drive from Jasper town.
8. Enjoy Coffee and Breakfast at the Bear Paw Bakery
Daniel loved a great coffee and found one right in Jasper town. My sister actually recommended the Bear Paw Bakery to us before our latest trip to Jasper so we decided to check it out for ourselves.
The Bear Paw Bakery offers tons of delicious baked goods as well as freshly brewed coffee. If you want a nice breakfast one morning while in Jasper then this is your place. I personally recommend their raspberry white chocolate scones – so tasty!
There are actually two Bear Paw Bakeries in Jasper. Typically, this one is less busy so try going there if you can.
9. Swim at “the Beach”
Visiting what the locals refer to as “the beach” is one of the best, off-the-beaten-path things to do in Jasper. The beach is a nice sandy area on the edge of Lake Annette only a couple minutes from Jasper town. Locals commonly visit to hang out with friends, have a BBQ, and even brave the cold water with a swim.
But the beach isn’t just for locals and if you’re looking for a nice place to hang out for a few hours then this is a great choice. There are also a couple of nice hiking trails in the area and the neighboring lake, Lake Edith, is also well worth a visit!
Unfortunately the day we went the weather was not so great, however, on a sunny day the beach is very popular!
10. Go Skiing at Marmot Basin
Marmot Basin in Jasper is recognized as one of the best ski fields in Canada! The cold weather in Jasper and tons of annual snowfall make it the perfect place for those looking to hit the slopes.
Marmot Basin is located about 30 minutes from Jasper town and is open annually during the winter months. You can get daily lift passes or longer passes to suit those wanting to spend a couple of days. Expect to pay about $100 CAD a day. It is also possible to take ski or snowboard lessons at Marmot.
If you’re visiting Jasper in the winter then spending at least one day at Marmot is a must!
11. Buy Handmade Candy and Chocolate
Right in Jasper town is a candy store called the Candy Bear Lair and what sets it apart from most candy stores is that they make lots of the sweets right there in the shop in front of you! The store offers all sorts of candies and chocolates, and I have to admit, the caramel chocolates they make are actually to die for!
I must warn you though, don’t visit unless you plan on buying something. Once you enter the store the smell of chocolate and candy-covered apples will have your mouth watering and I doubt you’ll be able to resist trying a few treats.
12. Visit Maligne Canyon
Maligne Canyon is one of the most popular attractions in Jasper – and for good reason – it’s gorgeous! This 50-meter deep canyon features a waterfall and lush greenery. The power of the Maligne River has created some very interesting erosion over the years and it’s really a special place to see for yourself.
You explore the area via a walking trail crossing over the canyon on various bridges.
The Maligne Canyon trail actually extends over 6 different bridges and the entire trail takes 2-3 hours to walk. However, the main bridge and viewpoint is very close to the car parking lot and many visitors only go that far.
In all honestly, we only made it to the second bridge but that alone was amazing and worth the stop. We spent about an hour total at Maligne Canyon although I’m sure some people spend much less time and others who hike the whole trail, spend more.
Maligne Canyon is also one of the Jasper attractions that are open all year round. In the summer, expect a waterfall, and in the winter, a frozen paradise! One of the best things to do in Jasper in the winter is the Maligne Canyon Ice Walk, so be sure to book that if you’re around!
13. Go Camping
Jasper National Park is one of the best places to camp in the great outdoors! Daniel and I love camping and with the expensive hotel prices in Jasper, we find it to be a great option for saving a few bucks during the summer season.
There are lots of different campsites around Jasper with the differences between them mostly being location and distance to Jasper town.
Our personal favorite campsite near jasper is the Wapiti campsite as it is located only a 5-minute drive from jasper town. However, if you want something a little more remote consider Wabasso or Wilcox. All of these campsites are run by Parks Canada and must be booked well in advance on their website (normally as soon as bookings open in January.)
If you don’t manage to book one of the Parks Canada sites mentioned above, consider trying for one in Snaring that is a first-come first-serve campsite. Alternatively, about an hour from Jasper is Willam A. Switzer provincial park which has loads of campsites to choose from!
Campgrounds are usually open from May to September annually with the busiest months being July and August. Some campsites are open in the winter, but the selection is limited.
14. Go Stargazing in the Dark Sky Preserve
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada declared Jasper National Park a “Dark Sky Preserve” in 2011, meaning that there is little to no light pollution around making it perfect for stargazing! Jasper is one of only 17 Dark Sky Preserves in Canada!
So, while you’re visiting Jasper be sure to take some time to look up at the stars on a clear night! There are a few stargazing apps you can download that will help you identify constellations and planets, or, you can actually visit the Jasper Planetarium and join a staring tour to really learn and experience more!
There is also an annual dark sky festival held in Jasper in October every year!
15. Eat Burgers and Drink Locally Brewed Beer at Jasper Brewing Company
You can’t come to Jasper and skip visiting the Jasper Brewing Company. First of all, they serve their amazing craft beer right on tap. Daniel and I love their Trail Sessions IPA!
Second, they have amazing food. The portions are huge and the prices are good too. The fried chicken burger is so good we get it every time we are in Jasper.
Jasper Brewing has both indoor seating and an outdoor patio. They are open daily from 12 pm to late and offer a late-night happy hour after 9 pm. Expect to pay about $8.50 CAD for a pint of beer and about $17 for a meal such as a burger. You’ll see the brewery in Jasper town right on Connaught Drive, you can’t miss it as it’s always buzzing with people.
16. Drive the Icefields Parkway
Rated as one of the top 10 most scenic drives in the world by National Geographic, the Icefields Parkway is a 230 kilometer-long stretch of highway that connects Jasper and Lake Louise. Along this drive, you’ll be met with towering mountains, tons of waterfalls, and even the Columbia Icefield!
Although the drive really should only take around 3 hours, I would give yourself an entire day in order to stop as much as you’d like!
Be sure to get gas before you leave Jasper because there is only one very overpriced gas station along the drive. Also, bring some snacks and water as the facilities are very limited. In the winter, your car must be equipped with winter tires.
17. See the Athabasca Glacier
About a 1.5-hour drive along the Icefields Parkway from Jasper is the amazing Athabasca Glacier! This huge chunk of ice is only a small fraction of the glaciers that make up the Columbia Icefield (Canada’s largest!)
There are a few different ways you can explore the Athabasca Glacier with the most popular being a tour where you actually drive up onto the glacier in a specialized vehicle. Then, you’ll have the chance to actually walk on the ice. Although very touristy, Daniel and I did this last year and had a really great time. This tour is only available during the summer months (please note that this tour is not running for summer 2020).
If you prefer not to do a tour or are visiting Jasper in the winter, you can hike up to the edge of the glacier on your own. The hike is only a couple of hundred meters long and along the way, you will see signs posted about how big the glacier used to be and you can see how much it has receded in recent times.
Hot tip: The Skywalk is also located just down the road from the Athabasca Glacier and this is another really neat experience where you walk out onto a glass-floored platform suspended nearly 300 meters in the air!
18. Visit Sunwapta Falls
Sunwapta Falls is a stunning waterfall located only 40 minutes from Jasper town in Jasper National Park. It is only a short walk from the car parking lot to the falls and there are a couple of trails to explore surrounding the falls.
Although only a quick stop, you could turn this into a longer experience by staying overnight at the Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge. It’s a really highly rated and a comfortable wilderness stay away from the hustle and bustle of town.
Sunwapta Falls is also a great place to visit all year round in Jasper, just be sure to have winter tires if you plan on driving there in the winter.
19. Visit Athabasca Falls
If you’re going to visit only one waterfall in Jasper, then make it Athabasca Falls! To me, Athabasca Falls is actually more impressive than Sunwapta and well-worth checking out.
This waterfall is large and super powerful! You’re sure to be impressed once you see it for yourself!
You can easily reach Athabasca falls with a short 30 minute-long drive from Jasper. The falls are also open all year round and many tourists rate it as one of the best things to do in Jasper National Park!
20. Enjoy a Sunset at the Jasper Pizza Place Rooftop Patio
Jasper Pizza Place has the best patio in town, and that’s because it is a rooftop patio! From their roof, you’ll have views of all of the surrounding mountains. At sunset, it is the perfect place to enjoy a drink, some really tasty pizza, and of the course the sunset patio view!
Jasper Pizza Place is located right in Jasper town on Connaught Street and it is open daily from 11 am to 11 pm. Expect to pay about $5-8 for a drink and around $20 for a large pizza.
Trust me, the view combined with the delicious food makes this a must-visit restaurant in Jasper!
21. Go Bike Riding
One of the best things to do in Jasper in the summer is bike riding! With tons of trails to explore you can definitely cover more ground on a bike than on foot.
There are some flatter trails suitable for a nice ride, or if you’re into it, there are some great downhill mountain biking trails too. The truth is that Jasper has tons of bike trails, too many to list here, so visit the Parks Canada website for more information!
You can rent bicycles from various shops right in Jasper including The Bench Bike Shop, Source for Sports, and Vicious Cycle. Expect to pay about $15/hr for an hour rental and about $40 for a whole day.
22. Watch a Movie at the Historic Chaba Theatre
Right in the heart of Jasper sits an old-school movie theatre that has been around for almost 100 years!
I know that most people visit Jasper for its range of amazing things to do outdoors, but if you do get stuck with some terrible weather or just need a rest one evening after a day of exploring, then the Chaba Theatre could be your best bet!
The movies and times of showing change daily, so be sure to check their Facebook page for the latest schedule, or, just drop by the theatre itself at 604 Connaught Drive.
23. Go Hiking
Hiking is me and Daniel’s favorite outdoor activity! We love the challenge of a good hike and the reward of making it to the end. Around Jasper, we have been lucky enough to conquer many of the most popular hiking trails in the area.
Some of the best hikes in Jasper include:
Valley of the 5 Lakes
This one is perfect for people who want an easy hike, or for those with young children. The trail is only 4.5 kilometers return and is relatively flat. Along the trial you’ll pass not one, but five different turquoise lakes! On a hot summer day, bring your bathing suit and get prepared to go for a dip!
This is one of the most popular day hikes in Jasper. It is a little more difficult and best suits anyone looking for a bit of a longer trail at 9.6 kilometers return and 220 meters in elevation gained. The view from the top is amazing though and well worth the climb.
Moose Lake Loop
This trail starts at Maligne Lake and is a short 2.6-kilometer loop trail that takes you past the smaller Moose Lake. There are said to be lots of moose in the area, however when we went, we didn’t see any.
This is a longer day hike option at 10.5 kilometers return. This hike is of moderate difficulty with an elevation gain of 500 meters taking most people around 5 hours to complete it. The trail begins ay Maligne Lake and the views at the summit are simply breathtaking!
This trail is the most popular multi-day hike around Jasper. Stretching over 44 kilometers this difficult hike takes most people 2-4 days with spending the night in backcountry campsites. The trail gets in name from the fact that the majority of it is above the tree-line offering amazing views to those who are willing to tackle the challenge!
24. Eat a Beaver Tail
If you’ve never heard of eating a Beaver Tail before you’re probably wondering why the heck I would suggest such a weird thing! Well, in the Canadian Rockies a Beaver Tail isn’t exactly what you’d expect.
It isn’t made from beaver at all, and is actually a sweet donut-like treat! It’s a flatter pastry that is deep-fried and comes out in the shape of – you guessed it – a beaver tail! Then on top, you’ll get to choose between lots of different toppings with the most popular being peanut butter, Nutella, chocolate spread, candies, ice cream, caramel – truly anything you can think of!
In Jasper there is a place called “Beaver Tails” and here you can go and try one for yourself. Expect to pay about $7-10 CAD for one Beaver Tail but they are quite large and sweet so two people could easily share one.
Note: There are Beaver Tail restaurants also in Banff and Canmore, so if you miss out in Jasper you can always try it in one of their other locations too!
25. Spot Wildlife or Join a Wildlife Tour
Canadian wildlife is the best! I mean, who doesn’t want to see a Grizzly in the wild?! Or, how about a moose, beaver, caribou, or even coyote! Sure, some of these animals sound scary, but from the comfort of a vehicle or on a guided tour you’re sure to feel a lot safer around them.
Daniel and I have spotted tons of wildlife around Jasper simply just by driving around and keeping our eyes peeled. You can often spot wildlife along the Icefields Parkway or even just on the outskirts of Jasper town as you drive toward Hinton (another beautiful stretch of road!)
However, if you want the best chance of seeing wildlife around Jasper then going on a guided wildlife tour is a great idea! This specific tour is an evening wildlife tour that is very reasonably priced. Although wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed, their guides are experts and almost all tours see wildlife!
26. Spend a Night or Go Golfing at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
This is one of the things to do in Jasper that is best suited for luxury travelers or those who aren’t too concerned about their budget. The reason is that the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is Jasper’s most luxurious hotel and it also features an immaculate golf course.
The golf course at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is rated as one of the best golf courses in Canada by SCOREGold Magazine. This golf course features 18-holes with some of the best mountain views around.
But if you are not into golf (Daniel and I aren’t golfers) then you can still visit the Jasper Park Lodge to go for a walk, dine at one of the many restaurants, or if your budget allows, spend a night or two. For those on a honeymoon in Jasper, this is the most romantic place to stay and well worth the splurge!
27. Relax at the Miette Hot Springs
The Miette Hot Springs are one of Jasper’s best attraction – especially in the cold winter months! It is the hottest hot spring in the Canadian Rockies and for less than $8 CAD you can relax in this natural mineral water.
The Miette Hot Springs are located about an hour-long drive from Jasper town, which tends to deter some people from visiting. With that being said, the drive out there is gorgeous, and in comparison to the Banff Upper Hot Springs, Miette is much less busy!
Although closed for the 2020 season, the Miette Hot Springs are generally open every day. You can check their website for updated times and details.
28. Visit Jasper’s Historic Train Station
When you first arrive in Jasper, one of the first things you’ll probably notice is the large train right next to the main road. Just behind this train is actually a historic train station which is still used today!
The train station was built in 1925. Back then, Jasper was a main hub simply due to the train passing through.
Today, the station is still used for people traveling by train. But if you’re not traveling by train, then you can still stop by and check out the building and read a little bit about its history on information boards. Oh, and don’t forget to get your picture taken with the iconic Jasper train!
29. Go Shopping Downtown on Connaught Street
Connaught Street is Jasper’s most busy street, and chances are it is the first place you’ll visit when you arrive in Jasper town. Along this straight stretch of road, you’ll find most of the restaurants I’ve mentioned above, along with tons of little shops!
From unique sports shops to those filled with funny souvenirs, there is a ton of shopping to be done! If you need to pick up a gift for anyone back home or even yourself, this is the place to do it!
30. Eat Grandma’s Ice Cream
When the summer sun is out it can be very hot in Jasper town, and the perfect way to cool off is with ice cream! My personal favorite ice cream shop in Jasper is a cute little place located on Connaught Drive called Grandma’s (you can’t miss it as the building is bright pink!)
They have over 50 flavors to choose from as well as specialty milkshakes and sundaes on offer. It’s the perfect way to treat yourself after a long hike!
Where to Stay in Jasper, Canada
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, shared facilities, and friendly atmosphere makes it a great place to stay. They offer budget dorm beds as well as affordable private rooms.
Patricia Lake Bungalows (Moderate Budget)
Patricia Lake Bungalows are a great place to stay if you want a comfortable stay for a reasonable price. There are some standard rooms as well as some units with kitchenettes. There is a hot tub on-site as well as a playground for children and the location is close to town, but far enough that it is quiet and relaxing.
You can check prices and book Patricia Lake Bungalows on Booking.com.
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 (pictured above) – need I say more?
You can check prices and availability 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 those visiting Jasper on a honeymoon!
You can check availability and book on Booking.com.
Before you go…
With this list of 30 fun and exciting things to do in Jasper, I’m sure you’re going to have a great time! I hope my blog has helped you plan your trip and given you some great ideas for amazing ways to enjoy Jasper National Park.
Don’t hesitate to comment below with any questions, and if you liked this blog, be sure to browse our other Canada blogs or some of our personal favorite articles below!
August 13, 2020