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Two of the most stunning places in Western Canada are Vancouver and Jasper, and although both places are beautiful they couldn’t be more different from each other. Vancouver is the beating heart of British Columbia, a bustling, hip city filled with awesome restaurants, lovely beaches, and loads of fun activities.
Jasper, on the other hand, is a charming mountain town nestled within Jasper National Park that is famed for its bright-blue lakes, awesome hikes, and small-town vibes.
It’s no wonder then that the drive between these two gorgeous destinations is one of the most popular road trips to take in Canada. In this blog, I detail all about the drive from Vancouver to Jasper as well as listing a whopping 13 stops you just HAVE to stop at on the way.
Note: This road trip itinerary also works in reverse if you’re driving from Jasper to Vancouver.
About the Drive from Vancouver to Jasper
The drive from Vancouver to Jasper is a long one at 797 kilometers (495 miles), which will take you about 9 hours and 12 minutes to drive, without stops. You will be following the TransCanada Highway BC-1 as far as Hope and from there the route follows the Yellowhead South Highway for most of the journey, passing through towns such as Kamloops, Clearwater, and Valemount. A little while after Valemount you will be changing to Highway 16 which will take you the rest of the way to Jasper.
Between Vancouver and Jasper, it’s inevitable that you are going to pass through areas of incredible scenery. The drive from Mount Robson to Jasper is the prettiest part of the journey and you may find yourself stopping more regularly on this section to take photos.
Do your research before your drive and above all enjoy this scenic road trip from Vancouver to Jasper. Also, if you plan to drive between Vancouver and Jasper in winter, no matter what route you chose you will need winter tires, especially coming into Jasper National Park, or if you take the Banff route, coming into Banff also.
Different Driving Routes between Vancouver and Jasper
I should mention there are a few different routes you can choose from when driving between Vancouver and Jasper, but the one mentioned above is the shortest and most popular option (via Kamloops and Valemount). It’s also the route I will focus on in this blog post.
There are a couple of other routes you can take, but which one you choose will depend on how much time you have and what stops you really want to make along the way. The map above outlines the 3 different main routes you can take.
One of the other popular routes between Vancouver and Jasper is to go via the TransCanada Highway which will take just over 12 hours and is 1,018 kilometers (633 miles) in total. This particular route passes through Revelstoke, Golden, and Banff but it is a busier route. It’s a little longer, but for those with Banff on their bucket list, it might be the best option. In this case, read our blog about the drive from Vancouver to Banff and then Banff to Jasper to curate your road trip itinerary.
Alternatively, cut out Kamloops and go via the gorgeous Okanagan Valley, this will take about 10 hours without stops. For this particular route, you will need to travel from Merritt into the Okanagan via Highway 97. You will meet back up with TransCanada Highway 1 at Sicamous and from there drive to Revelstoke and Banff before heading to Jasper town.
BEST Places to Stop on the Drive from Vancouver to Jasper
It’s essential that you take some time to explore Vancouver before departing on your road trip to Jasper. Vancouver is, after all, known as one of Canada’s most vibrant cities and it attracts adventure enthusiasts, outdoor lovers, and foodies from all over the globe.
Being a Canadian myself, I have been to Vancouver numerous times and so I have come up with a must-do list for your time in Vancouver. Also, worth noting is that Vancouver is considered an expensive destination, but that’s not to say it can’t be enjoyed on a budget, in fact, there are heaps of awesome free things to do in Vancouver!
First up is a hike through Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver, which is incredibly scenic and offers the chance to see some of the largest Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir Trees in Canada! It’s just a 10-minute walk to the lighthouse and as such, is considered one of the best easy hikes in Vancouver.
In my opinion, no trip to Vancouver is complete without checking out Granville Island – it’s a small island that you can drive or catch a ferry to from downtown Vancouver Island. On Granville Island, there are lots of things to do, I especially love visiting the huge indoor market here – which is especially popular with local Vancouverites.
For one of the best Granville Island experiences, you can book a guided tour of the market for a true insight into the different stalls! Other things to do here include shopping, watching street performers, going to the Kids Markets, or even checking out the brewery.
Be sure to also explore Stanley Park. I recommend renting a bicycle and riding around the Seawall. Stop at different beaches to relax along the way.
Or you can make things easier and go on this specific bike tour with a local guide who will take you through Stanley Park and the seawall trail. It is done on e-bikes so you won’t spend all your energy on one activity! It’s one of the top Stanley Park tours and costs $133 CAD for 4 hours which is plenty of time to cover many more areas including historic and modern neighborhoods.
By far one of Vancouver’s top activities is whale watching! From out on the open water, you’ll have to opportunity to spot various types of whales, including Humpback whales and, my favorite, Orcas. But besides whales, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot other wildlife, including seabirds, seals, and otters.
You can expect to pay about $226 CAD for this half-day whale watching tour that includes tea and coffee as well as expert naturalists to teach you all about the whales and area.
Just a 20-minute drive from Vancouver city center, this area is home to the huge Capilano Suspension Bridge which is 137 meters long (450 feet) and hangs 70 meters (230 feet) above the Capilano River. There are also various hiking trails here too along with a treetop walk and a glass floor lookout! Tickets cost $73 CAD per adult.
One of the most exciting things I have done in Vancouver so far was riding in a seaplane!
Taking off and landing on the water was new and a little scary but don’t worry, though; the pilots are trained professionals. While this scenic flight is only a 20-minute Vancouver city seaplane tour, it was such a fantastic experience and we got to see so much of the city and surrounding mountains. The best part is, it only cost $160 CAD! Can you believe that?
Vancouver is filled with urban beaches and one of my favorites is Kitsilano Beach. It’s a nice, clean beach that’s a great spot to head for the sunset. Surrounding the beach is the trendy neighborhood of Kitsilano which is home to lots of cool restaurants, bars, and stores. The Maritime Museum is also located here as well as a great waterfront public swimming pool.
And finally, a visit to Grouse Mountain is a must whilst staying in Vancouver. You can catch a cable car up this 1,200-meter mountain or if you’re really up for a challenge complete the ‘Grouse Grind’ to reach the top, this involves climbing up over 2,800 steps with an elevation gain of 853 meters. The views of Vancouver from the top are well worth the tough climb though!
Where to stay in Vancouver
The Cambie Hostel Gastown is perfect if you’re looking for a budget option! There are not as many hostel options in Vancouver but this one in Gastown is a good option. While it doesn’t have super high ratings it is in an excellent location.
For something a bit more moderately priced in the West End in the middle of the action try The Listel Hotel Vancouver. There is an on-site restaurant and is a short walk to major attractions like Stanley Park or the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Or ball out at the Fairmont Pacific Rim if you are searching for luxury. It has a full-service spa and rooftop swimming pool, on-site restaurants that have live music, and an outdoor terrace. The views from this hotel are phenomenal, as it’s right at the waterfront.
There are literally hundreds of places to stay in Vancouver. Read our blog about where to stay in Vancouver for info about the best areas to base yourself and the top-rated hotels.
2. Bridal Veil Falls
One of my very favorite stops on the drive from Vancouver to Jasper is Bridal Veil Falls. This huge 60-meter tall waterfall (197 feet) cascades over a large rock face, creating an appearance like a bridal veil. It’s beautiful and impressive. In fact, it is the 6th largest waterfall in all of Canada!
This is the perfect place to pull off the highway and go for a hike to a spectacular waterfall. From the parking lot, it’s a short hike of only 15 minutes on a relatively easy path to reach the Bridal Veil Falls waterfall.
While you’re here, plan to stay a bit to enjoy the park. Bridal Veil Falls is located within a provincial park. There’s a great area here for a picnic, so bring lunch!
You can find the fall’s location on Google maps.
Note: The falls are only open during the summer months
The small town of Hope is the next stop on your road trip. Although small in size, there are plenty of fun things to do in and around Hope.
Hope has an unusual nickname – it’s known as the ‘Chainsaw Capital of the World’ thanks to an International Chainsaw Carving Competition that is held here every year. In fact, you’re likely to see lots of unique wooden sculptures dotted throughout the town during your time in Hope!
In town, be sure to visit the Christ Church National Historic Site. Built in 1861, it is the oldest church on the BC mainland. You can do a guided tour of the Church during the summer months.
There are also plenty of unique artisan stores, cafes, and restaurants in Hope to refuel before continuing on your road trip. One of my favorite places to stop in for food and drinks is Mountainview Brewing Co. on the Old Hope Princeton Highway, which is the first craft beer brewery in town!
They serve up some yummy snacks and sandwiches as well as exceptional beers which are brewed in Hope with fresh mountain water! Taste the Dark Side of Town” a classic dark German lager or “Main Squeeze” a sour ale brewed with organic peaches and plums. Grab your beers to go to enjoy once you’re done with your drive.
Outside of town, Kawkawa Lake is a nice spot to swim during the summer as the water is surprisingly warm for a glacier-fed lake. At all times of the year, it’s a popular spot with locals for waterskiing and stand-up paddleboarding. There’s also a beach, picnic area, and dock.
Consider spending the night in Hope because it has some great bed and breakfasts and hotels. Situated high up on Thacker Mountain, the High Hopes Bed and Breakfast boasts guest rooms with private balconies. The nightly rate also includes a delicious homemade breakfast.
4. Othello Tunnels
When driving from Vancouver to Jasper, a stop at the Othello Tunnels is a must! They are located east of Hope in Coquihalla Provincial Park.
These abandoned train tunnels and bridges were built by blasting through solid granite in 1914. The Canadian Pacific Railway needed a route to connect the Kootenay Region with the coast of B.C. and built the railway over three mountain ranges. It’s considered one of the world’s greatest engineering feats of the time.
It’s free to explore the tunnels and is a fun adventure for the whole family. The tunnels start only 10 minutes from the parking lot and it takes about 20 minutes to walk through all five of them. It does get quite dark in some parts, so bring a flashlight (or your phone) as you wander through.
The scenery around the tunnels on the trail is beautiful too with the Coquihalla River, so make sure to have your camera on hand. This area has even appeared in several movies – look for the cliff above Tunnel #2 where the cliff jump scene was filmed for Rambo: First Blood.
Merritt is a small community off the highway that is a great place to stop for food or fuel on the drive. It’s known as the “Country Music Capital of Canada” and you can easily see why while wandering through the town.
There are murals of country music legends throughout the town, including many that are tributes to artists who have performed here including Keith Urban, Leeann Rimes, Johnny Reid, and Aaron Pritchett.
If you’re in a hurry, there are a variety of fast-food restaurants here to choose from. If you have a bit more time, visit Kekuli Café. They serve yummy Indigenous food in a coffee shop environment. The fresh, handmade Bannock (including Bannock sandwiches) are raved about by locals and tourists alike!
To break up the trip, Merritt has some good hotel options. The Best Western Plus Merritt Hotel is the newest hotel here with 83 rooms, a pool, and a free breakfast. If you stay here, the nearby Nicola Lake is another great area to explore to extend your road trip.
Kamloops is a great place in any season with winter activities like downhill skiing or snowshoeing. Or, take advantage of long summers with nice weather and go hiking or paddling on the nearby lakes and rivers. The truth is, there are lots of fun things to do in Kamloops!
Sun Peaks ski resort is my personal favorite place to go for skiing because it gets about 6 meters (20 feet) of snow every year and it’s only 45 minutes from Kamloops!
There are more than 100 lakes within an hour of the city! In the summer, these are great for a canoe, kayak, or even to try stand-up paddleboarding. Go to the gorgeous Kamloops Lake and see it from out on the water. You’ll see old stone train bridges and tunnels, rock bluffs, and may even spot an eagle’s nest.
In addition, you can go on plenty of hikes, including the popular Kenna Cartwright Nature Park, which boasts more than 40 km (25 miles) of trails – some of which offer epic views of Kamloops and the Thompson Valley. There are even several beaches and picnic areas here. My top tip is to come here for sunset to take some truly breathtaking photos.
Speaking of Thompson Valley, this area is also home to four wineries. Make sure to visit at least one while you’re here! I love spending an afternoon at a winery to sip great wine and savor the view. A couple of my favorites are Monte Creek Winery and Harper’s Trail Estate Winery.
See wild animals up close at the BC Wildlife Park. It’s a rescue and rehabilitation center and most of the animals here are rescued. There are more than 60 different species including Clover the Spirit Bear, a rare white bear that is the only Kermode Bear in captivity in the world. There’s also a splash park, playground, and mini-train for the kids. Admission to the park is $17.95 CAD for adults.
Where to stay in Kamloops:
As I mentioned, it’s a great idea to spend a few nights in Kamloops if you have time. There are plenty of hotels to choose from here. Personally, I love the Prestige Kamloops Hotel only a couple of minutes from town which is complete with a waterslide and brand new restaurants or if you’re on a budget, the Rodeway Inn & Suites which includes a continental breakfast.
Clearwater is a small town surrounded by big scenery! It’s an outdoor vacation paradise full of waterfalls, forests, and rivers, all with a majestic mountain backdrop. This is a fantastic place to base yourself for a few days to explore the region.
One of the most popular things to do here in Clearwater is whitewater rafting. It’s an exhilarating way to see the area and get an adrenaline rush at the same time. I recommend booking a whitewater rafting tour in the Clearwater River, full of exciting rapids, churning waves, and stunning scenery.
All the equipment needed is included, and your guide will help you navigate unique features on the route, including the “Bear’s Den” and “Hawaii 5-0.” In the spring and early summer, this tour also includes a visit to Candle Creek Falls, where you can walk behind a waterfall and even jump from a 7.6-meter (25-foot) cliff!
If you happen to be in Clearwater on the weekend, stop at the Clearwater Farmers’ Market. It’s every Saturday morning from May until October. Head to the grassy field at the Dutch Lake Community Center to pick up everything from fruit and vegetables, to gourmet chocolates, local coffee, honey, and handmade items.
The Clearwater Trout Hatchery stocks more than 300 lakes around BC and offers free tours by appointment. The trout here are raised throughout the winter and released in the spring, so winter is a great time to visit.
Clearwater is beautiful in the summer, but there are lots of things to do here once the snow falls too! Cross-country skiing is popular here on the many trails, as well as snowmobiling, skating, and ice fishing. The waterfalls in the area also freeze over and are spectacular wintery wonders.
If you’re hungry while in Clearwater, there are plenty of choices! Wild Flour Café and Bakery is a super cute place for breakfast and lunch. Everything here is handmade, and it’s great to pick up a freshly baked loaf of bread or cinnamon bun.
For a hearty meal, head to Hop “N” Hog for a Canadian smokehouse experience. They specialize in birch-smoked beef and pork that is expertly smoked for hours! Pair it with a drink from one of their 10 draft taps with a rotating selection of local craft ale, lager, and cider.
Where to stay in Clearwater
Spending a night or two in Clearwater is a great way to have extra time to explore this stunning area of BC.
The Jasper Way Inn is located right on the shores of Dutch Lake. It’s a one-minute walk to the beach, and the hotel rents out canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards.
If you’re just passing through and want a place close to the highway, try the Wells Gray Inn as a convenient road trip spot.
For a unique experience, just outside of Clearwater is the beautiful Cedar Haven Resort. It’s located on 30 acres of cedar forest near the base of Raft Mountain. Stay in a hand-crafted log cabin or ultra-luxurious forest tents. These tents have hardwood floors, a private bathroom, and a plush queen-size bed!
Or camp at one of the many nearby campgrounds like Birch Island Campground. It’s just off the highway and typically quieter. Sites are in the forest, and there are nice river and mountain views nearby.
8. Wells Gray Provincial Park
This is a bit of a detour off of Highway 5 on your way to Jasper, but honestly, it’s totally worth it. Wells Gray Provincial Park is known as the “Waterfall Park” with DOZENS of spectacular waterfalls, stunning glacier-fed lakes, mountains, and forest for a truly special escape into nature. It’s easy to see why it’s one of the best places to visit in BC.
From Clearwater, the main park access is a 68-kilometer (42 miles) paved road known as the Wells Gray Corridor or the Clearwater Valley Road. Depending on where you’re coming from, there are also park entrances off Highway 97 at 100 Mile House or off Highway 5 at Blue River.
There are 41 named waterfalls here and many others tucked into the surrounding forest. The incredible landscape in the park was formed by ancient volcanoes and slow-moving glaciers that created rivers and lakes that supply the waterfalls.
One of my favorite parts of discovering the waterfalls here is that moment when you hear the roar of the falls just before it comes into view, and you know you’re in for an incredible sight!
If you don’t have days to explore the park, these are the waterfalls you absolutely can’t miss out on seeing. These three are all just off Clearwater Valley Road and each is only a few minutes away from the parking area:
- Spahats Creek Falls – This is one of the most dramatic waterfalls in the park, with a 76 meters (250 feet) straight drop and water cascading down from a break in the rocks.
- Dawson Falls – This wide waterfall stretches 90 meters (295 feet) across and tumbles down into the Murtle River. There are two different viewpoints on the trail here – the first when it comes into view and then keep walking to get a different perspective at the top of the falls.
- Helmcken Falls – This is truly the centerpiece of the park! Helmcken Falls is the fourth largest waterfall in Canada, with water crashing down an impressive 141 meter-drop (462 feet). The viewing platform here juts out over the canyon, giving an almost panoramic view.
9. River Safari
About an hour’s drive from Wells Gray Provincial Park, is what I find to be one of the most fun stops on the drive from Vancouver to Jasper. River Safari is a guided tour by jet boat or 4WD jeep deep into the only inland temperate forest in the world, near Blue River.
Their most popular tour is the hour-long River Safari which takes you by jet boat down narrow, shallow river deltas in search of the elusive grizzly bear. This specific area is called Grizzly Bear Valley for good reason – it has one of the largest populations of grizzly bears in B.C. The tours run in the summer months only, starting in early May, and cost $120 CAD per adult and $75 CAD per child (infants under 4 are free)!
The Jeep Tour on the other hand is 1.5 hours in duration and costs just $110 CAD per adult and $55 per child. Hop into a specially adapted 4×4 off-road jeep to take you up Parberry Mountain before heading deep into the rainforest. On this tour, you can get up close to the bear’s environment and even see the plants they eat and where they sleep.
To find the starting point for your tour – look for the giant bear and billboard at the main entrance. At busy times of the year (for example, July and August) it is recommended to book your chosen tour in advance. Otherwise, you can show up without a reservation and the staff will try to get you on the next tour.
Top Tip: After your tour why not treat yourself to dinner at The Forest Table, their floating restaurant. Uniquely built on a floating dock that overlooks the river, The tables and seats are made from carved wood and their dishes are excellent and prioritize local ingredients.
This small town of about 1,000 people is packed full of incredible scenery and epic things to do. Valemount isn’t as touristy as Banff, Whistler, or Revelstoke, so it’s a great place to escape the crowds in any season.
This area is also an excellent place to go fishing and reel in a prized rainbow trout. Try Yellowhead Lake or Kinbasket Lake or from the shores of the Fraser River between Tete Jaune and Mount Robson. Just remember to get a BC fishing license – a one-day license is only $20 CAD.
For a quick history lesson on the area, pop into the Valemount Museum. It’s inside the old railway station and has interesting exhibits on local war heroes, Japanese Internment camps, displays of old railway towns, and a recreated trapper’s cabin in the basement. Admission is based on donations so it’s a fantastic option for a cheap activity in Valemount.
Valemount is also an incredible winter destination! There’s a new ski resort planned that will have one of the largest vertical drops in North America and incredible views of Mount Robson (once it is open, that is.)
For now, try out snowmobiling on the powder in Valemount’s backcountry on an expert tour like this one from Alpine Country Rentals.
Or, bring your skates and head out on Cranberry Marsh to go for a skate and maybe join in a local hockey game. The best access to the part of the pond where skating takes place is from the McKirdy Road parking lot, just off of 13th Avenue/Aspen road.
I can’t pass through Valemount without stopping at Three Ranges Brewing for their craft beer. There is the word “ale” in Valemount, after all, my favorite is their Trail Slap IPA because of my love for hops! But there are 10 regular brews along with a rotation of seasonal and occasional beers. It’s cozy inside if the weather isn’t great or there’s a nice outdoor area to enjoy a cold drink in the sunshine.
Another local spot that isn’t as well-known but is always on my list is the Valemount Swiss Bakery. Their fresh-baked pastries, sourdough bread (perfect for making sandwiches to take on a hike), and frothy cappuccinos are excellent. Check the website before you go, as their opening hours vary depending on the season.
Where to stay in Valemount:
This mountain town is an excellent base for exploring Mount Robson.
My top pick is the amazing Twin Peaks Resort. It’s a family-run business with five log cabins and large holiday home. It’s small enough that it feels like you have the place to yourself! It is really popular, though, so it can be hard to get reservations.
Another home-away-from-home log cabin with a mountain view can be found at Mica Mountain Lodge & Log Cabins. It is more expensive than Twin Peaks, but it’s a great option.
If budget is the main consideration, the Canadas Best Value Inn is the cheaper option located right in town on the main highway.
11. Rearguard Falls
As you leave Valemount and make your way toward Jasper you’ll pass a parking lot on the side of the road where you can access the stunning Rearguard Falls. It’s located a 20-minute drive from Valemount and is without a doubt one of the most interesting places to visit on your road trip from Vancouver to Jasper.
Rearguard Falls Provincial Park was set up to protect the furthest salmon spawning area up the Fraser River around 1,260 kilometers (783 miles) from the east coast of Canada.
If you’re here in August you might be lucky enough to see salmon making their last jump up Rearguard Falls and finally into their spawning area. It’s such an interesting sight to see – they must be so relieved to get there!
Even if it’s not August, this place is still worth a visit. It’s a short walk from the parking and there are information boards that tell you all about the massive migration.
Related Read: Rearguard Falls is also one of the best stops on the drive from Vancouver to Edmonton.
12. Mount Robson Visitor Center
Less than a 10-minute drive from Rearguard Falls is a must-stop on your Vancouver to Jasper adventure.
Mount Robson is the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, standing tall at a huge 3,454 meters, and the visitor center is a great place to grab a coffee (the views from the cafe here are jaw-dropping!) and learn about Mount Robson Provincial Park. There’s also free WiFi!
If you have the time, I highly recommend spending longer in the park to go hiking! There are lots of day hikes here of various lengths. The Berg Lake Trail is one of the best (in fact, it’s the most beautiful hike I’ve done in Canada), so it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular trails in the Rockies.
The highlights of this trail include Valley of a Thousand Falls, Emperor Falls, Berg Lake, and the Berg Glacier. This is a long trail (41.5 kilometers/26 miles), so people often make this a multi-day hike and camp at one of the campgrounds along the way.
A gentler and shorter hiking option is the Kinney Lake Trail which is 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) and should take about 2.5 hours to go there and back. The trail follows the Robson River to Kinney Lake winding through old cedar and hemlock forest on the way. This is a great trail to see wildlife!
You can book a helicopter tour of Mount Robson with Robson HeliMagic if you’re after a bucket-list-worthy experience! It’s a short journey (about 36 minutes total) but the views are pretty sweet!
From your prime vantage point, you will see Kinney Lake, the Valley of a Thousand Falls, and even two glaciers – Mist Glacier and Berg Lake Glacier. This particular tour costs $995 CAD per helicopter and holds up to 4 people.
If you want to spend the night in the park, your only option is to go camping! Around 180 vehicle-accessible campsites in the park are open for reservations from May until September. Reservations can be made in advance, although there will be a few first-come, first-serve sites. Campsites on the Berg Lake Trail can also be booked in advance because of their popularity.
2023 Update: Berg Lake Trail is currently closed due to flooding that damaged the trail in 2021. A portion of the trail to the Kinney Lake Campground will reopen in 2023. Check for updates here before you go!
You’ve arrived! And what a fantastic place to be. Jasper is truly one of the most beautiful places in Alberta – and maybe even the whole world! It’s an amazing mountain town with stunning scenery and so many different activities to try and tours to experience. 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 though, 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.
As I mentioned, there are loads to do in this small town, and one of the most popular things to do here is the SkyTram, a large mountain gondola that can carry up to 24 people. On this, you can get a bird’s eye view of Jasper from the peak of Whistlers Mountain.
At the top of the Jasper SkyTram, you can explore an indoor area, gift shop, and eat at a restaurant with amazing views. It’s open from April to October, and it’s best to book ahead as there are only two trams. It’s also one of the most popular summer activities in Jasper.
Another MUST-do summer activity is whitewater rafting. It’s a refreshing and thrilling way to enjoy the scenery and bond with your fellow travelers. There are many different types of tours that work for all types of preferences. There’s a family-friendly tour on less intense rapids, a budget-friendly rafting tour on moderate rapids, and even an extreme rafting tour for those who dare!
The breathtaking Maligne Lake is a short drive from Jasper; 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 Alberta’s most popular places to visit!
I recommend taking the famous Maligne Lake Cruise that showcases the beauty of the lake, including the spectacular Spirit Island, which is one of the most photographed places in Jasper National Park. There’s so much more to do at Maligne Lake; set aside a day or at least a few hours to explore here.
And If you’re going to see one waterfall while you’re in Jasper, make it Athabasca Falls! The popular trail, about 30 minutes from downtown on the Icefields Parkway, is only 1 km (0.6 mi) 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 must see it in person!
Specifically, at Athabasca Glacier, you can conveniently take a guided tour like this one in a specially adapted vehicle that will take you out onto the glacier for an up-close look! It costs $104 CAD and books out quickly due to its popularity.
If you plan to drive between Kamloops and Edmonton in the winter, be sure to spend a few hours at Marmot Basin, just 20 minutes from Jasper. This is easily one of the most epic things to do in Jasper during the winter!
You can hit the slopes here to try out 91 different runs for beginners through to advanced. What’s nice is the variety of runs for all levels from each lift! Marmot Basin is open from mid-November until early May and gets over 400 centimeters (13 feet!) of snow yearly.
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 British Columbia
If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars 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!
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.
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
I’m so glad you’re considering a road trip between Vancouver and Jasper, two of my favorite places in the world! The route I’ve detailed above is my preference as it’s the quickest but includes some awesome stops along the way including Othello Tunnels, the mighty Bridal Veil Falls, and a river safari through grizzly bear country.
I hope after reading this blog, you are just itching to get out on the open road and I’m certain you will love the drive between Vancouver and Jasper as much as me!