Jasper is that quintessentially Canadian yet rarely visited cornerstone of Canadian tourism. For years, I’d heard of the place, from my parents’ travels to the National Park over 30 years ago to my English and Welsh friends’ recent trips to “America” when I was on exchange in Wales. I was so excited to finally get the chance to visit this summer, not one, not two, but THREE different times! I thought I had seen it all by the end, but really, there is always a new adventure to explore in this place.
During my first and second trips to Jasper, on consecutive camp breaks in the middle of June, I traveled there once with friends and once with my mom, who was visiting me for the weekend. One of the only grievances I have about Jasper is that it is very fun to have a LOT of fun when you don’t have car access, of which I was very lucky to have on all three occasions when I was there.
For those that aren’t highly knowledgeable about the timing of elk roving patterns, early June in Jasper means one thing: calving season. As a tourist, it was super fun and also kind of scary to see elk EVERYWHERE. They say a safe distance is 30m from an elk; you don’t want to bother them too much! When my mother and I stayed in a B&B, there was one elk just roaming the road, as if it was a stray dog or cat. And Canadians wonder why we get the stereotypes we do….
On the first trip, we ventured over to Athabasca Falls, a quaint viewpoint just past the town. It’s definitely worth a stop, waterfall enthusiast or not, as it is quite a sight, especially on a nice day. In the summertime, the water is a beautiful milky white because of the melting glacial water, and the level is so high you get a little sprayed from any of the viewpoints. Another super fun activity we participated in on the first trip to Jasper was White Water Rafting. For a beginner, I would definitely recommend the rapids we did: Sunwapta river, leading to the falls. there were seven of us so we got a raft to ourselves, and we had a rip-roaring time going down the river. Since most of us had never paddled before, it was a great dip into the world of white water rafting (and definitely not the last). The water was quite cold, but you got used to it quickly.
When my mom and I visited a week later, we did more of a hiking-based visit. First, we trekked the different bridges of the Maligne Canyon hike, an easy jaunt to a pretty interesting looking canyon:
Finally, we decided it was time for more of a challenge, so we faced the Sulphur Skyline hike. One of my camp friends from New Brunswick, Canada, said it was the worst hike of her life with an amazing view, so I really expected the worst. Honestly, I thought it was very nice, especially compared to hikes that I’m used to doing such as the Grouse Grind in Vancouver, with double the exertion and half the view. I’ll talk about this hike more on my next Jasper post, but it was breathtaking. You can also warm up in the Miette Hot Springs afterwards, which is relaxing, but not all that exciting if you’ve ever been in an outdoor pool before.
Another gem in Jasper is the beauty of Lake Annette. There are two lakes that are neighbours near the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, and Lake Annette is one of the two, Lake Edith is the other. We had a delightfully warm day to swim in the chilly crystal blue waters, which was a feast for the eyes. We had a lot of fun along the way with that, too, when we decided to blow up our air mattress and fight for air mattress real estate….
Jasper is a wonderful place that will always hold a special place in my heart. I can’t wait to return some day and see what else it has to offer! Til then, here’s a picturesque view of what I usually catch outside my window during a drive around the park: nothing short of incredible views, as always.