Must See Sights in Jasper National Park
Must See Sights in Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park, Alberta
By John McKiernan
Jasper National Park is home to some of the most naturally stunning scenes in the world. Along with its sister park, Banff National Park, Jasper has become an iconic jewel of Canada. Aside from the tons of activities on offer and a choice of hotels to make your head spin, it is called home by such wonders as Maligne Lake and the Miette Hot Springs. Below is a selection of sights that can’t be missed when you come to visit Jasper National Park.
Medicine Lake is a place that has always captured the imagination of visitors. Because of its very unusual drainage system, the water level varies from season to season. Ancient Indians once thought that the lake was inhabited by spirits because sometimes the whole lake would disappear! As a result of this drainage system, the color of the lake is nothing short of stunning.
This legendary destination is located in the magical Maligne Valley. It is the second largest glacier-fed lake in the world (yes, it is cold to swim in). There is a list of activities to do including fishing, horseback riding and hiking. Arguably the highlight of Maligne Lake is the natural beauty of Spirit Island, a one and half hour boat ride away.
Maligne Canyon is a great place to witness the brute power of Maligne River. An interpretive trail brings you across six bridges where you can practically drink the spray from the the river. During winter there is the chance to try a guided canyon tour.
Located only a ten minute drive from Jasper townsite, Lac Beauvert is a relatively small lake that is the setting for the luxurious Jasper Park Lodge. It is also home to one of the world’s most beautiful and scenic golf courses. At times, the views are so incredible, you completely lose track of the golf ball (it’s a good excuse anyway!)
The Miette Hotsprings are the hottest in the Canadian Rockies, actually cooled to 39 degree Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit). Open from May to mid-October, it has two hot pools. One shallow pool with a lounging area and a deeper hot pool. Nearby there are hiking trails, picnic tables and great accommodations. Overall, it is simply the definition of relaxation. .
Patricia and Pyramid Lakes
Situated only 10 minutes drive from Jasper townsite, the Pyramid Lake Road takes you to this mini Paradise. If you are looking for a good place to fish in Jasper, this could be exactly the place. It is also popular for boating and simply relaxing. During the Winter, cross-country skiing and ice-skating take over this wheelchair-friendly little place. An easy 10 minute drive above Jasper townsite on Pyramid Lake Road brings you to this great recreational spot. Enjoy the two delightful lakes on the “Pyramid Bench”.
From nearby British Colombia, the white pyramid of Mount Robson can be seen. Whistler’s Mountain is home to the Jasper Tramway which brings you up to an elevation of 2285 meters (7496 feet). There are also hiking options to bring you to the top of the mountain where the view is awe inspiring.
Although this is more of a drive away than some of Jasper’s other popular attractions (105km/63miles), the drive alone is actually one of the highlights. Located astride the Continental Divide of North America, it feeds no less than 8 major glaciers. There is the option of taking a 90 minute ice age adventure which takes you out onto the most stunning of the glaciers – the Athabasca Glacier. You can also go on a guided glacier walk where you can learn about the history and geography of the Columbia Icefield.
The Sunwapta falls are accessible only a short drive from the Icefields Parkway that connect Jasper and Banff National Park. The waterfalls have a drop of around 18.5 meters and are most stunning in late spring when the spring melt is at its peak. Sunwapta is actually a Stoney Indian word for “turbulent river” and it is immediately clear why. A lot of people don’t realize but there is actually 2 falls. The big one is most easily accessible thus most visit here but the smaller falls are easily accessible by hike and quieter.
Mt. Edith Cavell
Mt. Edith is one of the most rugged summits in Jasper National Park and indeed Canada as well. Located in the Athabasca River and Astoria River valleys, it was named in 1926 after an English nurse who was executed by the Germans during World War I after helping allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium to the Netherlands. Among the many beauties of these craggy mountain is the hanging Angel Glacier, which pours over a 300 meter cliff and makes for an unforgettable photograph.
Lake Edith and Lake Annette
A 20 minute drive from Jasper townsite lies two sheltered lakeside areas perfect for a day resting with a picnic. Unlike many of the other lakes around, you can swim here without turning into an icicle. There are some very gentle slopes for a casual walk including the wheelchair accessible Clifford E. Lee Trail. If biking is more your scene, there are some equally easy bike trails to explore around Lake Agnes.
The Athabasca Falls
The Rocky Mountains has no shortage of waterfalls to show off but the Athabasca Falls must count as one of its most impressive. Less than 32 km’s from Jasper, the water from the Athabasca River thunders through a narrow gorge where the walls seem almost pollished by the pure force of the water. Equally as impressive during winter when decorared with hanging sheets of ice.
The Goat Lookout
The Goat lookout is best known as a stop-off along the Icefields Parkway. It offers gorgeous views of the Athabasca Valley and the dominant mountains that protect it. A picnic area is available and makes for a lovely place to stop and have a sandwich. Because of naturally-occurring deposits of mineral beside the lookout, this is a very popular wildlife hangout. Remember though, as fascinating as it might seem, it is illegal to feed wildlife in a National Park.