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If you’re traveling to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, you don’t want to miss seeing Jasper! Known for its natural beauty, Jasper is one of the best places to visit in Alberta, and a great spot to take advantage of all the outdoor sports in the area.
One of the top things to do in Jasper is whitewater rafting. It’s a refreshing and adventurous way to enjoy the scenery and bond with your fellow travelers. I lived only 3 hours from Jasper for a long time and Daniel and I have visited often – especially to take in the scenery and epic activities in all seasons.
When it comes to one of the best adventures you can do in Jasper, I think whitewater rafting has to top the list. But there are many different whitewater rafting tours from family-friendly excursions to high-adrenaline ones. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely float down the water or hoping to jump straight into wild rapids, there are options for you!
Below, I’ve listed all the best whitewater rafting tours in Jasper. While each tour varies in difficulty and adventure, they’re also appropriate for anyone who hasn’t taken on rapids yet!
Read on to find the right tour for you (with info on how to book and the best times to go)!
Our TOP Whitewater Rafting Tour in Jasper
I love the thrill of whitewater rafting, but one of the biggest draws for me is the sights along the way! This 2-hour scenic rafting trip focuses on exactly that, with your guides being full of fun stories and interesting facts about the wildlife and areas you see.
At $85 CAD per person, it’s also great value, making it my personal favorite of the bunch. You can grab your tickets for this experience here.
When Can You Go Whitewater Rafting in Jasper?
Jasper National Park is in the mountains and gets cold in winter. Therefore, whitewater rafting is only available in the summer months. But it’s one of the best things you can do in Jasper in summer!
All the rivers are glacier-fed, even in summer, making the water extra cold. This also means the water level changes seasonally due to how quickly the glaciers melt throughout the year. To get the whitewater experience you’re looking for, the best time to go is when the water flow is at its highest.
So when is that? Well, between June and late July, the rapids will be at their most intense, giving you the highest thrill. This is my favorite time to go and I recommend it if you want an extra dose of adrenaline. If you can’t make it until later in summer, there are still plenty of tours and you’ll have an amazing time!
Where do Whitewater Rafting Tours in Jasper Depart From?
For ease and accessibility, whitewater rafting tours in Jasper depart from various meeting points in downtown Jasper. All the tours on our list include round-trip transportation from a central meeting location in this area. You’ll most often take something resembling a school bus to and from the river, where you’ll begin rafting.
All these tours are within Jasper National Park but are a 20-45 minute drive from downtown Jasper. And since you’ll be paddling a significant distance down the river, your starting and ending points will be quite far apart.
Luckily, since transportation is included in the tours, it’s very convenient, and you won’t need to park a vehicle at the start and end.
What Rivers do you Whitewater Raft on in Jasper?
There are a number of rivers to be explored in Jasper National Park. Most of the whitewater rafting experiences in the area, especially the tamer ones, will take you down the stunning Athabasca River.
This glacier-fed river runs from the Columbia Icefields – which are also worth visiting! The river stretches more than 1,200 km (765 miles) before feeding into Lake Athabasca. This clean river offers a mix of slower-moving water with some faster rapid sections, making it an excellent option for whitewater rafting tours.
Another popular river in the area is the Sunwapta River, which provides a more intense whitewater experience. “Sunwapta” is a Stoney Indian term for “turbulent river.” This river certainly lives up to its name and provides big Class III rapids for a more advanced rafting trip.
The Sunwapta River is fed from the Athabasca Glacier and stretches a short 51 km (32 miles) to feed into the Athabasca River. Riding down this river will provide quite the thrill as you’ll be navigating both narrow and wider sections of raging water.
Both of these rivers are glacier-fed, meaning the water is quite cold! I strongly recommend dressing warmly for all whitewater rafting experiences in Jasper, even though you will be going in the summer months. Some tours provide wetsuits if there is a good chance of getting wet, while more leisurely tours provide ponchos to protect from the spray.
Related Read: Jasper is at the north end of the Icefields Parkway, so if you want to see more sights, check out the best stops along the Icefields Parkway!
How Long do Whitewater Rafting Tours in Jasper Last?
The length of whitewater rafting tours varies based on your chosen tour. You can expect even the shortest trip to last around 2 hours, including travel time. Most tours last closer to 3-4 hours which, in my opinion, is ideal for getting the most out of your experience and time on the water.
As some tours last a bit longer, I highly recommend bringing a water bottle and some snacks to stay hydrated and avoid your tummy grumbling. Even more leisurely tours can build up quite the appetite!
Let’s break down how long each part of the tour takes. You can expect the travel between river access points to take 20-45 minutes each way. The time spent rafting down a river varies and can last between 1-2 hours depending on the tour you choose.
The scenic rafting tour only offers a noon departure time. However, all other tours on our list have both morning and afternoon departure times allowing you the freedom to plan your day accordingly.
How Much Do the Tours Cost?
Whitewater rafting tours in Jasper vary in cost between $80 CAD and $120 CAD per person depending on the length of the trip and the intensity of the experience.
The tour cost will always include an experienced river guide, all necessary rafting gear (including life jackets), and transportation to and from the rafting site.
On some tours, especially ones with a higher risk of getting wet, the cost covers wetsuits and neoprene boots or ponchos to keep you comfortable.
Is Whitewater Rafting in Jasper Safe?
Whitewater rafting is considered an extreme sport which means that it certainly comes with a level of danger. In any adventure sport, there is always some risk involved and you’ll be required to sign a waiver prior to your experience. However, many precautions are in place to make this activity as safe as possible.
Moreover, there are varying levels of difficulty when whitewater rafting. Some tours are geared towards families and younger people, while others are much more extreme and designed for the confident adrenaline junkie.
Some people, such as pregnant people and those who can’t swim, should not engage in whitewater rafting. While you’ll be wearing a life jacket and can sit in safer spots on the boat, you’ll still want to feel comfortable in the water. Remember, you’ll always have an experienced tour guide who will help make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
As this outdoor activity happens in the summer, there is also a risk of sunburn. You should take proper precautions by wearing waterproof sunscreen. If you wear new gear such as wetsuits or neoprene boots, there is also a minor risk of blisters.
The 4 BEST Whitewater Rafting Tours in Jasper
Sunwapta Challenge – the most extreme
If you’re looking for one of the most exciting ways to take on rapids, I suggest you book this extreme rafting tour!
This journey takes you through some Class II and III rapids on the Sunwapta River. You’ll paddle 13 km (8 miles) through whitewater rapids on rafts built for up to 6 passengers.
As the water is glacier-fed and very cold, you’ll start by gearing up in a wetsuit (with neoprene booties that the tour company provides). Be sure to wear a bathing suit and expect to get wet! After your 45-minute drive to the river, you’ll meet your river guides, who will give you a safety briefing and discuss some critical paddling techniques. After that, you’ll jump into your raft and begin your journey down the river!
I found the beginning of the rafting trip to be more leisurely, which helped me get comfortable in the water. It also was the perfect opportunity to take in the stunning sights of the Rocky Mountains. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife that frequents these shores!
After a while, the water starts to get more intense until you reach the heart of the rapids. After your exhilarating experience, you will change out of your wet clothes before getting transported back to the starting point in Jasper.
This tour costs $123 CAD and includes round trip transfer from Connaught Drive in downtown Jasper. It also covers all necessary equipment (including a wetsuit) and an experienced certified river guide. However, the tour is only available from mid-June to mid-August, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly if you want to check it out!
In total, the tour lasts around 4 hours, including the 45-minute ride each way from downtown Jasper to the river. You can expect to spend about an hour and a half on the water and enjoy beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains along the way.
This exhilarating experience is ideal for physically fit individuals aged 12 and older who weigh at least 90 lbs (41 kg). Rafters under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
If the Sunwapta Challenge sounds fun, don’t hesitate to book your spot! It was an unforgettable trip that was both adrenaline-pumping and scenic, yet still felt completely safe.
Athabasca River Scenic Raft Tour – the best scenic choice
If you’re looking for a more relaxed rafting experience to take in stunning views, this scenic rafting tour is a great option! It’s ideal if you’re a traveler who is more interested in enjoying the landscape rather than paddling through rapids.
During this rafting tour down the Athabasca River, we loved how the guide entertained us with stories about the area’s history, inhabitants, and wildlife. They also point out any unique plants or animals and describe how fur traders also went down this same waterway.
This tour is suitable for anyone 3 years or older so the whole family can join! Everyone can sit back and relax as your guide steers you down the river. Passing Class II rapids, you’ll get a bit of excitement without anything too scary or thrilling. You’re sure to feel safe as you spend most of your time floating in calmer water and taking in the beautiful sights.
This scenic rafting tour costs $85 CAD per adult and $35 CAD for children. This price includes a guide, life jackets, and ponchos to help keep you dry. The tour lasts between 2-3 hours and includes round trip transport from the Two Brothers Totem Pole directly beside the Jasper Train Station. All tours begin at noon, but you should arrive 15 minutes beforehand.
While this trip is one of the best for those looking to take in sights, it’s worth noting that tours are only offered Monday to Friday from mid-May through September.
To secure your spot for the summer season, book this easy scenic tour online here!
Athabasca Canyon Run – best for families
This family-friendly rafting tour is the best option for those looking for a whitewater rafting experience suitable for a mix of ages and skill levels.
This tour has a great combo of excitement and leisure and is suitable for rafters 5 and older (those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult). But overall, my favorite part of this rafting experience was the unique landscape and all the views!
The half-day rafting tour lasts about 3.5 hours, including the 1.5 hours you’ll be on the water. You’ll spend your day paddling 12 km (7.5 miles) down the incredibly scenic Athabasca River.
This tour costs $113 CAD for adults and $70 CAD for kids. You’ll start your experience with a round-trip transfer from the downtown Jasper meeting point to your starting point at the base of Athabasca Falls. Then, you’ll meet your experienced river guide, who’ll give you a brief rundown of what to expect before jumping in the boat. All necessary rafting gear is covered in the cost, including a life jacket, wetsuit, and neoprene boots.
This tour will have you traveling through calmer water as well as some Class II rapids for some excitement! At Athabasca Falls, you’ll begin your excursion with stunning views and a thrilling ride. Then, you’ll navigate through a narrow channel in the Athabasca Canyon with large rock walls surrounding you. From here, you’ll take on some rapids before enjoying calmer water.
The rafts hold 6 passengers making them an ideal size for most families. This tour is a great intro tour for first-time whitewater rafters and perfectly blends stunning sightseeing with a thrilling whitewater experience.
I especially love that there are two departure times allowing you to choose between a morning or afternoon rafting experience. But bear in mind that the tours are available from mid-June to the beginning of September.
To secure your spot on this fun, family-friendly tour, you can check availability and book online here.
Related Read: Rivers aren’t the only place to have fun in Jasper National Park! Check out these tips and the best things to do at Maligne Lake in Jasper.
Athabasca River Mile 5 – best value rafting trip
If you’re looking to get the most for your money, this 2-hour rafting tour down the Athabasca River is the best choice!
This section of the Athabasca River is called the Mile 5, which I loved because it was gorgeous and just the right level of difficulty – which made it easy to hone my rafting skills while still having fun.
This 9-km (5.5-mile) paddling tour is perfect for those who want to take in some fantastic views of Jasper National Park while enjoying Class II rapids.
You’ll start your experience meeting off Hazel Ave in downtown Jasper and then be transported to the rafting starting point. After a brief safety instruction tutorial, you’ll hop on your rafts and cruise down the river.
To start the journey, you’ll get comfortable in some calmer waters and take in the beautiful sights around you. After about 10 minutes, the water gets rougher as you take on Class II rapids.
Overall, the tour provides an incredible thrill for kids and first-timers looking for an intro to rougher waters (while still having a relatively calm experience). The knowledgeable guides make you comfortable immediately and do a great job of making the experience enjoyable yet safe.
This rafting tour is available from May – September and has two departure times with a morning (11 am) or afternoon (2 pm) start. It costs $97 CAD for adults and $49 CAD for kids and includes roundtrip transfer, a river guide, and all necessary rafting gear.
However, this tour has an 8-person cap, so check availability and book your spot online here.
Where to Stay in Jasper
If you’re planning a whitewater rafting adventure, the best place to stay is near the town of Jasper. Most tours start and end here, so it’ll make your trip much more convenient. However, accommodation in Jasper is limited, so 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 whether you’re on a budget or splurging while on vacation.
Jasper Downtown Hostel (budget)
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 option. They offer budget dorm beds starting at $40 CAD as well as affordable private rooms from $71 CAD per night.
While staying at this budget-friendly hostel, guests can freely relax in the lounge or use the laundry facilities and a shared kitchen. Free parking is also available on-site. Other than that, free Wi-Fi access is available throughout the property.
Jasper Inn & Suites (mid-range)
Jasper Inn & Suites is one of the best Jasper hotels because it’s located in the heart of Jasper. Well-furnished, each room comes with a fan, a flat-screen TV, tea and coffee-making facilities, and a fridge. Additionally, free Wi-Fi access is available in all accommodations. You can book a double room here starting from approximately $130 CAD/night, although prices do fluctuate seasonally.
What makes this hotel one of my favorites is its facilities such as a sauna, steam room, indoor pool, hot tub, ski lockers, ski wax room, and free parking space. It even offers on-site dining and guests can fuel up with authentic Canadian cuisine. During the summer season, guests can relax on the outdoor terrace.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (luxury)
Rated as a 4-star property, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge offers a luxurious accommodation experience in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I personally like this resort as it has an award-winning golf course, eight on-site restaurants, and a 10,000-square-foot spa.
But what I love the most about Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is its location. It isn’t walking distance from downtown, but only a very short drive which makes it a quiet nature escape still within close proximity to the amenities of town. The best of both worlds!
With prices starting at $279 CAD, it’s the only luxury option in Jasper and is the perfect choice if you’re planning a romantic occasion or honeymoon in Jasper!
Other Activities to do while you’re in Jasper
Jasper National Park is just filled with fun things to do and see! So besides whitewater rafting, there are a few other activities that we recommend that you check off your to-do list. They are:
- Visit Maligne Lake and 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.
- Drive the Icefields Parkway – The Icefields Parkway is the super scenic stretch of road that connects Jasper with Lake Louise. There are tons of attractions on the Icefields Parkway including hikes, stunning blue lakes like Peyto Lake, as well as the Columbia Icefield. If you’ve ever wanted to walk on a glacier, you can do that at the Columbia Icefield on this guided hiking tour that takes you onto Athabasca Glacier. If you aren’t much of a hiker, join this bus tour onto the glacier instead – you’ll still stand on the glacier but no hiking is required!
- 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.
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.
Renting a Car in Alberta
If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.
Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Thanks for reading!
Jasper National Park is one of Canada’s most beautiful places to visit and one of my favorite ways of seeing the area is on a whitewater rafting tour! If you find yourself looking for things to do in Jasper in the summer, I highly recommend this thrilling experience. Be sure to consider the type of people you are traveling with and book the tour that is going to be right for your group.
If you’ve found this article helpful, check out my other blogs about Canada! To get you started, I’ve selected the articles about Jasper below.