Jasper National Park Things to Do Tips by Karlie85
Jasper National Park Things to Do: 233 reviews and 346 photos
Jasper is known around the world as a beautiful National Park in the UNESCO World Heritage Canadian Rocky Mountain parks. Gorgeous scenery, abundant wildlife and first class activities all come to mind when thinking of Jasper. Most visitors might not know much about it's history, though, and the Jasper Yellowhead Museum is the place to learn about this wonderful town and National Park. The history of Jasper goes back as far as 10,000 years with the aboriginal people working hard to survive the harsh winters and hunt buffalo for food and shelter, up to the first European people arriving, exploring and settling, to the building of the extremely important railway, all the way up to modern day life and tourism.
The museum isn't very big, but it offers a lot of information in well presented displays, as well as very interesting artifacts through all of these time periods. I loved reading about the railway men and being able to see their badges and hats right in front of me. I'm the type of person that reads every sign and display, and it took me about an hour and a half to make it through. The main part of the museum is the Historical Gallery, and there is also a Showcase Gallery (which had an
art display while I was there), and an Alcove Gallery, which featured lots of old photographs and a few historical pieces. Even though you will want to spend all of your time in the beautiful outdoors, a visit to this museum is definitely worth the time.
The archives are in the basement, and you can only visit by appointment, Mondays to Wednesdays.
Children 5 and under/ free
Open year round. Gift shop.
Address: 400 Pyramid Lake Rd.
Phone: (780) 852-3013
April '09 - Inside the canyon
Maligne Canyon is just a short drive from the Jasper townsite. Once there you can hike a self-guided interpretive trail over 6 bridges to see this spectacular gorge. It plunges down over 50 feet and is very incredible to see. When I was here the water was still frozen, and I have never seen anything like a frozen waterfall before. It's gorgeous, and I would love to see it in the summer sometime.
There are plaques all along the trail describing the science and history behind this gorge.
There is a gift shop and restaurant as well.
UPDATE - April 2009 - I have just visited Maligne Canyon for the second time in the month of April. I did the hike twice on two seperate days. The first day I stuck to the trail and went much further than I did in 2007. The canyon is absolutely gorgeous, the river going from absolutely solid ice to still water to a gently flowing stream. The second day I ventured onto the ice. There are barriers along the trail, but there are places where you can onto the ice. It was a completely different experience. It felt like I was in a different world, walking on ice with frozen waterfalls around me, the world high above. There are several "Ice Walk tours" available from $50+, but you can save the money and do it yourself. Just be careful not to slip!
Address: Jasper National Park
On the glacier
The Columbia Icefield is technically in Jasper National Park, but it is almost halfway between the towns of Banff and Jasper (180km from Banff, 108km from Jasper). Take a thrilling 2-hour drive, most of it along the breathtaking Icefield parkway, to get there. This is one of the most gorgeous drives I have ever been on. The scenery is just stunning, and we saw 2 bears on the way back.
Once you get to the Icefields, there is an information centre with displays about the glaciers, a gift shop and a café. This is, of course, where you buy your tickets. Tours of the Athabasca glacier depart every 15-30 minutes. You board a coach which drives you about 8 minutes over to the Ice Explorers, funny looking buses that drive you onto the glacier, at one point down a 38 degree incline. The driver gives some very interesting info about the glaciers and other things. When you arrive on the Athabasca Glacier, you're able to get out of the bus and explore the glacier on your own for about 20 minutes. This was extra interesting when we went, in the middle of August when it was 30 C, as it was only about 5 C on the glacier and extremely windy!
One thing I found very interesting is that these glaciers are on a continental divide, meaning that the water from these glaciers goes to either the Pacific or Arctic and Atlantic.
You really can't go wrong with a trip to the Icefields. There is a beautiful, leisurely drive to get there (the Parkway has less traffic than the Trans Canada and has a lower speed limit) and a fun, informative tour when you get there! I would suggest going earlier in the day, as it gets very busy in the afternoon. The tour itself takes about 1.5 hours. Don't miss it!
Adults - $38
Children - $19
Directions: Head 55 west on the Trans-Canada hwy #1 to Lake Louise. Then travel north from Lake Louise on The Icefields Parkway Hwy 93N to the Columbia Icefield.
Medicine Lake isn't just your average lake. In the summer time it appears that way, but by October the lake essentially disappears into a few small pools. Indians believed the disappearance was due to "big medicine", or magic, hence the name Medicine Lake. It stretches for kilometers along the highway and is splendid to look at. It is like nothing I have seen before. I saw a picture of it in the summertime, and it is quite an amazing contrast. I could tell you what really happens, but wouldn't it be more fun if you found out for yourself?
Address: Jasper National Park
Directions: 27km southeast of Jasper Townsite
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