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Hiking among sky-scraping mountains, rafting along rivers used by early explorers, and enjoying world-class stargazing during a stay in Jasper.

Elk, in JasperA small alpine town surrounded by the emerald lakes and glacier-clad peaks of Jasper National Park, Jasper is a gateway to the outdoors. Staying here, you can head out on mountain bike rides along the park’s network of trails or join a local guide for a hike through river-cut canyons. Alternatively, go white-water rafting along routes taken by early explorers, or zip past forested mountains in the sidecar of a Harley-Davidson.

The town itself is situated within a Dark Sky Preserve, so if you’re granted clear nights you’ll be able to gaze up at constellations, see the faint cloudy swirls of the Milky Way and look for shooting stars. You’ll also find a scattering of museums and art galleries that cast light on the region’s fur-trapping history and growth in tourism. From Jasper, you also have easy access to the Icefields Parkway — one of Canada’s most scenic drives.

We find that, as soon as you arrive in Jasper, the call of the mountains leaves you itching to get out and explore. You have lots of options here, so it’s a good idea to stop by the visitor centre first to gather maps and trail information so you can decide how and where to explore.

Hiking in Jasper National Park

With nearly 1,000 km (620 miles) of well-marked trails varying in length and difficulty, it’s easy to hike independently. But, having a guide accompany you can open your eyes to more of the park’s flora and fauna. Often former park rangers, guides will use their local knowledge to lead you along lesser-trodden paths, tailored to your fitness level and interests.

You could spend a whole day hiking, packing a picnic lunch. Or, take a shorter walk along Maligne Canyon with a guide. They’ll fill you in on the geology of the gorge, the region’s history and the wildlife you might encounter — look out for eagles, elk, beavers and black bears.

Other ways to explore Jasper and its surrounds

Mountain bike trails also lace the area, many of them within easy reach of the town. Well-connected and well-maintained, you’ll find routes to suit a range of abilities.

Jasper Motorcycle Tour, Jasper, Alberta, CanadaTake a tour in the sidecar of a Harley-Davidson motorbike for a less strenuous way to explore the region. You’re fitted out with leathers, goggles and a helmet before an experienced motorcyclist zips you off into the mountains. You might spot bears and other wildlife as you go, which are sometimes attracted to the engine’s throaty roar. You can also make the most of Jasper National Park via its waterways. Whether it’s white-water rafting along the Fraser or Sunwapta Rivers, or a gentle float trip on an inflatable raft along the Athabasca River. You’ll retrace routes taken by 19th-century explorers as your guide fills you in on Jasper’s history. There are also plenty of options for kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding in lakes close to Jasper.

Take the SkyTram to the top of Whistlers Mountain, for elevated views over the town and its mountainous surroundings. As you ascend 2,263 m (7,424 ft), staff will point out sights of interest, including Mount Robson — the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

At the top, after soaking up the viewpoints dotted along the boardwalk, you can walk the 1.2 km (0.7 mile) Summit Trail to the mountain’s highest point at 2,463 m (8,081 ft). Informative signs along the way tell you about the alpine environment, including the plant life and wildlife that thrives here. You could then sit down for refreshments in the Summit Restaurant.

Best time to visit Jasper

The activities above are at their best between late-May and mid-September, when temperatures are warm, wildlife is active and the mountains and lakes have thawed out, or are in the process of thawing. You can also visit Jasper in Canada’s winter (November to March) to try a different set of experiences, from snowshoeing to ice climbing.

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Suggested itineraries featuring Jasper

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Jasper, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

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