Jasper National Park, Jasper Lake Sand Dunes

Jasper, Alberta

Kay Barbaro
Staff Writer

Despite all the amazing things Jasper National Park has to offer, icefields, glaciers, and waterfalls it also happens to have the only sand dunes in all the Canadian Rockies.

Jasper Lake sand dune, photo courtesy of Parks Canada.

Jasper Lake sand dune, photo courtesy of Parks Canada.

The dunes were formed at the edge of Jasper Lake during the last ice age, and have been constantly re-shaped by wind and water ever since.

Jasper Lake is a wide, shallow section of the Athabasca River beside the Yellowhead Highway. As water from the river flows into the lake, silt and sand sink down to the lake bed. In the fall, when the water level goes down, the silt and sand are exposed and become dry, and are then swept up by the strong westerly winds of the Athabasca Valley.

Eventually the winds blow the sand and silt down the valley, forming two huge dune islands near the northwest shore of Jasper Lake.

In the on the backside of the dunes, away from the winds, mature clumps of spruce and balsam poplar have gained a stronghold, while colonizing grasses, rose bushes and willows wage a constant war against the winds and migrating sands. Nowhere else in the park is the balance of nature so apparent – or so fragile – as in the Jasper Lake sand dunes.

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