Oh Jasper. There are so many incredible things to do in Jasper and the surrounding areas in Jasper National Park. It truly is a beautiful place in Alberta, Canada that most definitely needs to be seen to be believed.
The ethereal turquoise lakes, majestic mountains and spell-bounding nature would have you think otherwise, but I can assure you that Jasper is not in fact a dream. It’s captivating and enticing, which is perhaps why it’s one of the very few places that I’d return to in a heartbeat.
I travelled to Jasper with my husband and then six-month old baby boy, Nova. We had the most spectacular adventure and it still remains firmly one of my most memorable family trips. And I have no doubt that you’ll love Jasper too.
Not convinced? Wondering what to do in Jasper? Just one of these amazing Jasper attractions and activities will change your mind and steal your heart.
22 Dreamy Things to Do in Jasper Canada
1. Maligne Lake
An iconic lake in Jasper National Park (the second largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies), this is the place to visit for one of those surreal pinch me moments. It’s beautiful, stunning and everything you’d hope it to be.
There are so many Jasper activities here. Enjoy one of the trails around the lake, hop on a boat to Spirit Island (see number 2 as to why you should totally do this), canoe or kayak the lake, bike, or even camp.
Get here early because the car park fills up and it’s your best chance to see the wildlife. We arrived super early and saw a few bears. Oh, and the light is also said to be better in the morning.
Practical Information and Tips for Maligne Lake:
- Allow 60-90 minutes for the drive from Jasper to Maligne Lake. The route is so pretty that you’ll want to stop to take photos. Any traffic will likely be because of wild animals and drivers slowing or stopping to watch them.
- There’s a public parking lot once you arrive at Maligne Lake. From there it’s a very short walk to get to the office where you can buy tickets for various activities. Parking is limited, so arrive early.
- Allow at least half a day, if not a full day to enjoy Maligne Lake.
- There are four dining options at Maligne Lake. From waffles to picnics, you can find opening times, book and check out menus here.
- Travelling to Jasper with kids? Leave the stroller and use a carrier.
- Boat hire starts from $60 and the Boat House is open from 9am – 4pm between 1 June and 16 September.
Maligne Lake Address: Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Jasper, Alberta, Canada
2. Go to Spirit Island
Without a doubt, please, please, please make sure you venture to Spirit Island. It’s magical. And not surprisingly, it’s one of the most photographed places and one of the very top things to do in Jasper National Park.
It’s a tiny spot that’s only accessible by boat. Framed by staggering mountains and icy glacial water, it’s an image that will forever remain etched in my mind and heart.
How to Get to Spirit Island, Tips and Practical Information:
- Book a boat ride to Spirit Island. I’d suggest booking online in advance for the earliest slot possible.
- Adult prices start from $79 and child prices from $40. You can get a 10% discount for Spirit Island boat rides if you book online in advance (link above) and/or if you’re an Alberta resident. You can also opt for a pricier package to include a private walk, extended cruise, professional photographer and so on.
- Allow 90-minutes for the ‘classic cruise’, which includes 15-minutes on the island (that’s the one I did). Allow two hours for the pricier bundles.
- Park at Maligne Lake and head to the Lake House office.
- Have your camera ready for the cruise, but definitely for Spirit Island, remembering you’ll only have 15 minutes on the island to get those shots.
- Travelling to Spirit Island with kids? Leave the stroller and use a carrier. Spirit Island is tiny and the loop track is totally doable with mini-explorers.
Spirit Island Address: Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Jasper, Alberta, Canada
Recommended Reading: Things to Do in Edmonton – Fly to Edmonton and spend time there before driving to Jasper National Park
3. Bear Spotting
Spend some time in Jasper National Park and you have a good chance of spotting wild bears. Predominantly, black bears and grizzly bears, it’s not uncommon to see them at the side of roads and at popular tourist attractions in Jasper.
I saw a family of bears on one drive and another at Maligne Lake. Both experiences were fascinating, unnerving and amazing.
Practical Information and Tips for Spying Bears:
- Head out early or at dawn to increase your chances of seeing them.
- Keep your distance and be respectful. After all they’re wild animals.
- Bears are generally out of hibernation between early April and November.
- Parks Canada recommend carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it, making noises (sing, talk, for example) if you’re out and about on trails (and sticking on them), and backing away slowly if you do come across one.
5. Drive the Icefields Parkway
A 230km stretch of highway that weaves past stunning lakes, more than 100 ancient glaciers, waterfalls, enchanting forests and impressive mountain landscapes.
It links Jasper National Park to Banff National Park, specifically Lake Louise, though you don’t have to journey the whole stretch. You could drive from Jasper to many of the points of interest. I drove to the Columbia Icefields and back again as I was short on time.
Practical Information and Tips for the Icefields Parkway:
- Be prepared to stop. A lot. It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous route and you’re going to want to admire the views and take photos.
- This is the time to take a picnic. It’ll be the prettiest roadside picnic you’ve ever had.
- Head out early because you’ll have a better chance of seeing wildlife.
- Be prepared for animal jams – traffic jams that happen when people spot wildlife on/near the road.
Icefields Parkway Address: Highway 93, Alberta, Canada
6. Step on the Athabasca Glacier via the Ice Explorer
This is so much fun! The Ice Explorer is essentially a bus with oversized wheels designed for glacial travel on the Athabasca Glacier; a 10,000 year-old sheet of ice. Epic.
Looking for exciting things to do in Jasper with kids? I took our 6-month old baby on the Ice Explorer truck and did wonder if I was doing the right thing, but he just fell asleep from the bumpy ride!
Practical Information and Tips for the Ice Explorer:
- Book the Ice Explorer ahead and in advance online. Spaces are limited and fill-up. Plus, it gets busy here so better to have a fixed slot.
- Adult prices start from $114, children over 6 years old are $57 and children under the age of 5 are free. You can get a 10% discount for Ice Explorer Truck if you book online in advance (link above) and/or if you’re an Alberta resident.
- The best time to ride is said to be before 11am or after 3pm as you have more chance of seeing wildlife.
- Allow at least half a day at the Columbia Icefields.
- There are two dining options at the Columbia Icefields.
- Park at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre.
- Wear something warm, or at least take it with you, and flat, grippy shoes. You’ll have the chance to hop out of the bus and onto the glacier.
- Travelling on the Ice Explorer with kids? Leave the stroller and use a carrier. Oh and bring a snowsuit for them.
Ice Explorer Address: Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre, AB-93, Jasper, AB T1L 1J3, Canada
7. Go Stargazing
Jasper National Park is a dark sky preserve, as designated by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. It’s actually one of 17 in Canada and the second largest in the world. In simple terms, it’s an amazing place to see the magical stars and get that dreamy experience.
Practical Information and Tips for Seeing the Stars:
- Book a seat at the Planetarium Dome Theatre in Jasper to ‘visit’ space and see the Milky Way, Jasper from above and more. It’s a 35-minute showing, so doable with kids. Prices start from $59 for adults and $25 for children.
- If you’re really lucky you can spot the aurora borealis, but if not, the sight of millions and billions of stars is pretty amazing. These are said to be the best stargazing spots in Jasper National Park.
- Download a stargazing app like Skyview or Star Chart to really get your geek on.
- Visit in October for the Jasper Dark Sky Festival. This year it runs 18-27 October 2019. Stargazing experts, bands and photographers run workshops, talks and fun sessions to celebrate the amazing sky.
8. Ride the Jasper SkyTram
Ride the legendary Jasper SkyTram for 360 views of Jasper. It’s the longest and highest guided aerial tram in Canada. The gondola reaches the top in just seven-minutes and from there you can get out to explore the area.
During the ride up the staff member will point out various sights and answer any questions. You’ll spot the vivid pools of turquoise and out at the top you’ll probably spot cute wildlife like I did.
Practical Information and Tips for the Jasper SkyTram:
- Book the Jasper SkyTram ahead and online. This Jasper attraction gets busy so secure your slot.
- Adult prices start from $49.30, children aged upwards of six years old from $26.20 and children under six years old are free.
- The best time to visit is early morning or evening, largely because that’s when you’ll experience the best light. If you travel before 10am or after 5pm you can utilise the free meal deal.
- Wear layers so that you’re not caught out by the weather.
- Travelling in Jasper with kids? Leave the stroller in the car and use a baby carrier. Keep hold of little ones near the top as it’s obviously a long way down.
Jasper SkyTram Address: Jasper, Alberta, T0E 1E0 Canada
Recommended Reading: A Dreamy Itinerary in nearby Edmonton and Jasper
9. Go on a Food Tour
Ideal for a day when the weather isn’t so kind, this food tour gives you a chance to eat your way round Jasper. It’s also a chance to learn about the history of this amazing place.
Practical Information and Tips for the Jasper Food Tour:
- The tour starts at 2.30pm and prices start from £78.
- Arrive with an empty stomach and definitely don’t eat lunch beforehand.
- You’ll be offered 4-courses and 4-alcoholic beverages.
- If you’re travelling in Canada with a baby or toddler, try to encourage their nap around this time so you can enjoy the experience.
10. Brave the Columbia Icefield Skywalk
Brave enough to walk a glass path that hugs a cliff edge? This 1km walk looks down to a 280m drop. The skywalk is exhilarating to say the least and offers another chance to enjoy the Columbia Icefields.
I’m scared of heights, but just about managed it with my six- month old baby strapped to me. I’m glad I did it, but wow, did I hold on to that railing!
Practical Information and Tips for the Columbia Icefield Skywalk:
- Book the Columbia Icefield Skywalk ahead and online.
- Adult prices start from $37, children age six years old and over start from $19 and younger children are free. You can get a 10% discount if you book online in advance (link above) and/or if you’re an Alberta resident.
- Travelling with kids? Leave the stroller and opt for a baby carrier instead.
Columbia Icefield Skywalk Address: Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre, AB-93, Jasper, AB T1L 1J3, Canada
Recommended Reading: Your Guide to Tofino
11. Revel in the Green at Horseshoe Lake
One of the deepest lakes in Jasper, it’s probably not a surprise that it’s popular with swimmers, fishers, as well as hikers. Head here for the views and to dip your toes on a warm day.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can try cliff jumping, with the highest spot said to be 80 feet!
Practical Information and Tips for Horseshoe Lake:
- The loop trail round the lake only takes about 25-minutes and is 1.5km.
- There’s a parking lot at the lake.
- Take your swimmers and a towel.
- Watch out for the mosquitos near the water.
Horsehoe Lake Address: Highway 93 (Ice Field Parkway) – approximately 25 kilometers south of Jasper.
12. Try the Local Brews
Head to Jasper Brewery Co. to try the local brew. Three of the founders were born and raised in Jasper, opening the spot to celebrate the local beers and ales.
On the menu you’ll find all-year round drinks and a select few everchanging ones. You can also eat here.
Practical Information and Tips for Jasper Brewery. Co:
- It’s open seven days a week, from 11am – 2am.
Jasper Brewery Co. Address: 624 Connaught Drive, Jasper, AB , T0E 1E0
13. Go Rafting
This fun Jasper activity is suitable for both thrill-seekers and family travellers. For an exciting experience, try white-water rafting.
If you’re travelling with children in Jasper you don’t need to miss out. Opt for a scenic float for a slower pace, though bear in mind it will likely gain a bit of speed on the Athabasca River and you’ll experience some gentle rapids. You’ll be in a raft with others and led by a guide.
Practical Information and Tips for Rafting in Jasper:
- Use Jasper Rafting Adventures for white water rafting. They have a few packages available, with adult prices starting from $100 and children prices from $50. Tours start from two hours.
- Use Jasper Raft Tours for the scenic float. Kick back while your guide takes you down the Athabasca River. Prices vary depending on what month you’re visiting and it’s advisable to book online in advance as spots fill up.
- Don’t forget a spare pair of clothes, a towel and a bag for your wet things.
Jasper Rafting Adventures Address: 618 Connaught Drive, Jasper, AB T0E 1E0, Canada
Jasper Raft Tours Address: 611 Patricia Street, Jasper, Alberta
Recommended Reading: The Best Things to Do in Vancouver, Canada
14. Explore Maligne Canyon
Take in the roaring waters and sheer limestone walls of impressive Maligne Canyon. Said to be one of the best places to see wildlife, the Maligne Canyon Trail is about 2.2 km one way and takes around one to two hours to complete. The views are dreamy.
Practical Information and Tips for Maligne Canyon:
- Don’t forget to take your water bottle with you.
- Head to Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen for an impressive feast in a beautiful cabin. There’s a kid’s menu and vegetarians are catered for with a good choice of dishes.
13. Admire Lake Edith
The trail around beautiful glacial-fed Lake Edith is more in the trees than the lake edge. It’s a pretty area where you can hike, swim or kick back and relax on the small beach.
Practical Information and Tips for Lake Edith:
- Bears have been known to frequent this area. Be bear aware (see number 3 for more bear tips).
- The trail is a loop and should take around 1.5 hours.
- Don’t forget to take a bottle of water and snacks/meals if you plan to stay a while as there isn’t anywhere to buy food and drink.
Address of Lake Edith: Just off the Yellowhead Highway 16, Jasper, Alberta, Canada
15. Enjoy the Miette Hot Springs
These are the hottest mineral springs in the Canadian Rockies. Water flows from the mountain at 54°C (129°F) and is cooled to a comfortable 40°C (104°F). Best enjoyed after a hike, this is the spot for relaxation.
Practical Information and Tips for Miette Hot Springs:
- Adult prices start from $7.05, children over three years old are $5.15 and younger children are free. You can’t book in advance.
- You can rent swimsuits, towels and lockers.
- Want a private experience? You can rent the whole pool before or after regular hours for just $269.80. Bear in mind you need to book at least three weeks in advance.
- Miette Hot Springs is open from 9am – 11pm, though shorter hours operate in September to October. Between 15 October 2019 to 30 April 2020 they are closed.
- There’s an onsite café serving light meals, snacks and drinks.
Miette Hot Springs Address: Miette Road, Jasper National Park, Alberta, T0E 1E0, Canada
Recommended Reading: The Best Things to Do in Whistler, Canada
16. Hike Wilcox Pass
Said to be one of the best hikes in Jasper National Park, this trek is nearer the Columbia Icefields than the town of Jasper. Supposedly you won’t find a better view of the surrounding glaciated peaks, Mount Athabasca, Mount Andromeda, Snow Dome and Mount Kitchener.
During the hike expect to see big horn sheep, wildflowers, mountains, meadows. It’s a great if you’re on a budget as you’ll get to see the Athabasca Glacier for free.
Practical Information and Tips for Wilcox Pass:
- Allow 3-5 hours to do the whole trail. Yep, it’s a biggie.
- The best time for this hike is said to be between July to September.
- There’s a parking lot and overflow parking is available on the driveway to the nearby campsite.
- Travelling with young kids? Bear in mind that the air is thinner up here due to the elevation, so it may be best as a solo parent activity. It is, however, labelled as family-friendly.
- Start at the Wilcox Pass Information Kiosk and follow these directions.
- There’s a loo at the start of the trail.
Wilcox Pass Address: Wilcox Creek Campground – 3km south of Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre, AB-93, Jasper, AB T1L 1J3, Canada
17. Explore Valley of 5 Lakes
Only time for one hike? Why not try this one which lets you enjoy not one, but five gorgeous lakes?! At each lake there is a chance to walk down to the shoreline and of course, plenty of photo opportunities.
This is a great hike for any skill level, especially as it’s quite short.
Practical Information and Tips for Valley of 5 Lakes:
- Download a map of the trail in advance – assume no wi-fi!
- Follow trail 9a and 9b for a three mile walk.
- Allow 1.5 – 3 hours for this hike.
- There is a specified parking lot.
- Be bear aware, particularly in July and August when the bears are said to visit the area for the berries.
- Don’t forget your water bottle.
Valley of 5 Lakes Address: 9km south of the Jasper townsite on Highway 93 (the Icefields Parkway).
18. Marvel at Sunwapta Falls
Fed by the Athabasca Glacier, enjoy the upper and lower waterfalls. Sunwapta is said to mean ‘turbulent river’ in Stoney Indian language, which is pretty accurate, don’t you think?
Practical Information and Tips for Sunwapta Falls:
- You’ll be able to see the upper falls from the parking lot. To access the lower falls you’ll need to walk 1.3k down through a pine forest.
- Supposedly moose, bears and wolves visit the lower falls in the evenings.
- The parking lot is about 500 metres from the Icefields Parkway turnout.
Sunwapta Address: Highway 93 (the Icefields Parkway), Alberta, Canada
19. Appreciate Athabasca Falls
If you want to chase more waterfalls, head here. The pine forest surroundings make this a pretty dreamy spot in Jasper National Park.
Practical Information and Tips for Athabasca Falls:
- From the parking lot you’ll only need to walk about 1km to the paved trail.
- You may need to queue to get a spot in the parking lot as it gets busy.
Athabasca Falls Address: Athabasca Falls, Highway 93A, west of Icefields Parkway, Jasper National Park, Alberta T0E 1E0, Canada
20. Enjoy Sunset at Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake lies at the foot of Pyramid Mountain. You can do loads in this area, including kayaking, biking (7-seater family cruisers are available!), hiking, wildlife watching (beavers, elk etc) and paddle boating. Looking for things to do in Jasper in winter? You can skate, snow-shoe and more.
However, the main reason to visit is to watch sunset. It’s beautiful.
Practical Information and Tips for Pyramid Lake:
- There is a designated parking lot
- There are toilets here
- There’s a ‘beach’ at the lake and you’ll find picnic tables dotted about.
Pyramid Lake Address: Pyramid Lake Road Jasper, Alberta T0E 1E0
21. Enjoy Lake Annette
Lake Annette has a paved loop trail with no elevation gain, so it’s family-friendly. It also has a beach which is popular with families.
Practical Information and Tips for Lake Annette:
- There is a parking lot
- You’ll find toilet facilities here
- Allow 1-2 hours to complete the loop depending on how quickly your little ones walk!
- There are picnic facilities.
Lake Annette Address: Lake Annette, Jasper National Park, Alberta, T0E 1E0
22. Head to Medicine Lake
Medicine Lake is incredibly beautiful, though it depends on what time of year you visit. In summer, it looks like a normal alpine lake, but in autumn and winter the water disappears and it becomes a mudflat. The water sinks through the middle.
Native Indians believed its ebb and flow was magical, like medicine, hence the name.
Practical Information and Tips for Medicine Lake:
- Parking is available
- Keep an eye out for bears, caribous, wolves, and moose. Birds of prey are often seen swooping down on the lake to capture fish.
Medicine Lake Address: 5km east of Jasper townsite on Maligne Lake Road
Visit Jasper National Park, Alberta
Fly to Edmonton, spend a few days there and then drive to Jasper National Park. Check flights here and make sure you get your ETA Canada. It’s a mandatory travel authorization to travel to Canada without a visa, so you really do need to make sure you do this in advance of your trip. You can find out all you need to know about the ETA for Canada there. It only takes a few minutes to complete.
There are lots of places to stay in Jasper National Park, from campsites to cabins and fancy resorts. I stayed in the lux Fairmont Jasper Resort.