Jasper National Park is just as beautiful as neighboring Banff, but is sometimes overlooked by those who choose the latter. That being said, there are tips that apply to hiking in both parks, but Jasper also brings its own unique set of challenges and rewards for the avid hiker. If you are visiting Jasper National Park for the first time, here are some tips and tricks that will make the trip an exciting, safe and easy trip.
10 Book a campsite (or hotel) well in advance.
It should come as no surprise that in such a scenic area, hotels can fill up very quickly during peak season. It is recommended that visitors take the time to reserve well in advance for campsites as well. This is especially important for those visiting during the summer months when the park is at its busiest, as well as those planning to take advantage of offers or promotions.
9 Benefit from hiking apps
Jasper National Park is a big place – 4,200 square miles to be exact. It would be almost impossible for anyone to navigate the vast expanse of this wilderness without the help of a trail guide, markers or hiking apps – of which there are many to choose from. Some show topographical information including elevations and mountain peaks, while others, like AllTrails, neatly map out individual trails and track a hiker’s time on them. Note: Not every location in Jasper has cell phone service, so it’s important to download maps to your cell phone if the option is available.
The photo above is not from Jasper but from a map on AllTrails for the spec.
8th For excursions within Jasper, book online to save time
The great thing about the technology is that it is now even easier to book individual excursions and tours online. Because Jasper is such a busy park, it’s easy to make online reservations for specific activities such as sightseeing tours, wildlife viewing, the Jasper Skytram, horseback riding and more. Visitors are even encouraged to buy tickets online so they don’t risk being sold out when they arrive, and this also ensures a spot is reserved for them when they arrive.
7 Consider renting a kayak or canoe to experience Jasper on the water
Jasper may be remote, but that doesn’t mean rentals aren’t available to interested visitors. Those who prefer to see parts of the park by water are encouraged to look into rental cars to do so, making it easier to venture out onto any number of pristine jasper lakes. Some places that offer these rentals include Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge outdoor activity center, Malignant boathouse, Pyramid Lake Resortand Wild current outfitters.
6 Don’t miss the visitor center
It might be common sense for most avid hikers, but the visitor center — especially in a place like Jasper National Park — has a wealth of information. Here visitors can learn about the park’s natural landscape, its native species and what they might encounter along the trails. This is also the perfect place to purchase trail maps, get advice from park rangers, and learn more about the different areas in the park that are worth exploring. The hotel is located at 500 Connaught DriveThe Visitor Center is also where guests can use iPads to explore in-depth park information and get in-depth guides to Jasper.
5 Do you have an alternative for rainy days
The weather isn’t always predictable, especially in a mountainous region like Jasper. So it’s important to also have a rain plan in case the weather changes. For those looking to hike at higher elevations, this is more of a risk due to the different weather patterns at different elevations. It is best to maintain an easy and flexible itinerary. For example, be prepared to climb one of Jasper’s many peaks another day, and consider trading in a sightseeing expedition on a rainy day. Or just plan to explore the town of Jasper – there’s plenty to see without ever leaving the main streets!
4 Consider incorporating the train into a walking trip
For those visiting Jasper on a Wednesday or Saturday, there is always an option to fit a train ride into any trip. These scenic train rides are a great way to see Jasper from a new vantage point (one that cannot be hiked) and allow passengers to just sit back and enjoy the view. For those interested in a longer, multi-day train journey, the Rocky Mountaineer is ready to take passengers through the most breathtaking parts of the Canadian Rockies.
3 A Canada Parks Pass might be worth it
Frequent visitor to Canada’s finest parks? A Canada Parks (Discovery) Pass might be worth the investment. For starters, those driving into a Canadian national park must first have a park pass, so there really is no avoiding it for those driving in. However, those who come often might consider snagging one of these passes for themselves, taking care of any Canadian national park they wish to visit — not just Jasper.
2 Before hiking, mark photo-worthy locations on a map
While it’s great fun to stumble upon a photo-worthy opportunity, it’s also good to know when those opportunities will arise. By marking scenic spots on a map (or using an app like AllTrails that automatically marks them), hikers know exactly when to get their cameras out. Those who visit Jasper National Park will find that there are many scenic moments that can be overwhelming for someone looking for the perfect shot. By pre-tagging scenic views on the map, there is no guesswork as to when – and how often – a scenic opportunity will arise.
1 Consider a guide or hiring a local for first-time visits
Jasper’s sightseeing tours are a great way to get a feel for the park when visiting for the first time. With a seemingly endless number of hiking trails and attractions, to say it’s overwhelming would be an understatement. There’s no shame in hiring a guide to follow the park’s best views, and it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the park’s terrain.