Jasper National Park

Length of stay: 3 days
Visited: June 2022

Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. It is best known for its vast wilderness, majestic mountains, turquoise lakes and abundant wildlife. It offers many outstanding opportunities to hike, camp and just enjoy the beautiful outdoors.

Day 1: East Jasper

We flew into Edmonton super late the night before. Due to some changes with our itinerary and delays at the airport, we landed well after midnight, which meant that the car rental place was closed. Instead we took an outrageously expensive taxi to our accommodations near the airport. We then had to head back to the airport first thing the next morning to pick up our car. We stocked up on supplies and drove to Jasper, the first stop on our road trip through the Canadian Rockies.

We entered Jasper in the early afternoon from the east near the Miette Hot Springs. We first checked out a viewpoint of Punchbowl Falls. It’s a short walk from the parking lot to a bridge that overlooks the falls. There’s also a short trail that leads to the Miette Campground, but we had other plans for the day.

We hopped in the car and drove back towards the highway, stopping at the next parking lot to hike along the Mine Trail. The trail consists of a lower (900m loop, rated easy) and upper portion (1.7km loop, rated moderate) to form a longer loop. It leads through an old mine site and passes some remnants from the past. The lower mine loop was mostly flat and followed along a paved path while the upper mine loop (key word being up), gave us a preview of what hiking in the mountains is like. The path leads up to a viewing platform that provides sweeping views into the valley below.

We then stopped at the Jasper House National Historic Site. There’s a short and easy path that leads to a viewing platform that overlooks the river and former site of a fur trade post.

We continued our drive through Jasper and stopped in town to hike the Old Fort Point Trail (3.8km loop, rated moderate). The path winds through the forest and involves a few steep sections that lead up a hill, or rather hills. The first hill contains a pair of the Parks Canada Red Chairs that overlook the mountains. From there it’s a short push up another hill to reach the highest point, which provides a nice view of the town below. The way back down to the parking lot is steep, but short.

We then drove to Wapiti Campground where we planned to spend the next two nights. Many of the sites are small and out in the open, but it was quiet, which is all we cared about. We could even hear the sound of the river from our campsite. We made dinner in the back of our car because of the wind and went to bed shortly after.

Day 2: Valleys

The thing about camping in the mountains is that it gets chilly overnight, which is great for sleeping, but it makes it challenging to get up in the morning. So we figured we’d go on a hike first, after making a cup of coffee of course.

On the drive out of the campground we saw some elk on the side of the road. What a great start to the day. We drove to the trailhead for the Valley of the Five Lakes Trail (4.6km loop, rated moderate). There were only a couple of other cars in the parking lot, which is another motivating factor to get an early start to the day. The trail passes by five colourful lakes in the mountains. The path is wide and was in pretty decent shape with minimum mud patches. The first stretch involves a steady ascent through the forest. A few minutes after starting the hike, we encountered some more wildlife and saw a fox coming towards us down the path.

After crossing the bridge, the trail forms a loop that passes by the series of lakes. There is a side trail that branches off and loops around the first lake for a longer hike, but we figured this wasn’t necessary as we got a nice view of the lake already from the main trail. At the third lake we came across a set of the Red Chairs. This seemed like a great spot to take a quick break and just enjoy the views and lovely weather. The fourth and fifth lakes were equally as beautiful.

We then drove into town to pick up a few additional supplies. We also figured we should check out the Information Centre and Park Store since we were nearby. After making a quick breakfast in the parking lot, we drove to Maligne Valley, starting with the Maligne Canyon Trail. There are a few different options and access points to the trail for a bit of a choose your own adventure. Overall, there are six bridges around the canyon that criss-cross at various points.

We started at the second bridge and hiked to the fifth bridge and back again. Along the way there are a few interpretive signs that provide more information about Maligne Canyon and how it was thought to have formed. There are a couple of different theories, including that it was once a cave that was uncovered by the scraping of glaciers and water erosion.

Once we reached the fifth bridge, we hiked back along the horse path for a change in scenery, which forms a loop back to the first bridge and parking lot.

We hopped in the car and drove to Medicine Lake, which is commonly referred to as the Disappearing Lake. During the summer, the shallow lake fills up with all the meltwater from the mountains, however, during the winter, it’s often dry. The water actually drains out through sinkholes in the bottom and travels through an extensive underground cave system and resurfaces downstream.

After eating some lunch at Jacques Lake, we headed to Maligne Lake where’s there’s a boat launch, boat tours, canoe rentals and even a few hiking trails. We first hiked along the Mary Schaffer Trail (2.9km loop, rated easy). The trail starts off along a paved path that hugs the shoreline of Maligne Lake. After passing the Red Chairs, the trail becomes more rugged and winds through the forest. It felt a bit eerie given how quiet it was. But it was a short trail and we were back at the trailhead in no time.

We then drove to the other side of the lake to hike along the Moose Lake Trail (2.7km loop, rated easy). The trail follows along the shoreline and splits off to form a loop through the forest. However, there was a (warning) sign that indicated that the upper loop was not maintained. We should have paid more attention to this, but we figured it was rated easy and it was a relatively short trail, so how hard could it be.

We started off with the lower loop, which leads to Moose Lake. The name of the lake was a bit of a let down as we didn’t actually see any moose. Here the trail connects with the upper loop. And this is where things get interesting. At first it wasn’t too bad. There were a few fallen trees that we had to hop over and around. But then the path became washed out in certain places and disappeared entirely. We continued to hug the shoreline of the lake as that seemed like the best way to get back to the junction. To make things worse, the midges were out of control, which meant that slowing down was not an option. At least the views were nice.

We finally made it back to the parking lot. Overall it took us just under an hour and a half to complete the hike, which leads us to believe that the upper lake portion is not factored into the length or difficulty rating of the trail. But hey, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

I guess it was meant to be in terms of timing as on the drive back to the campground, we came across a black bear with her three cubs by the side of the road.

We made one other stop at the Maligne Valley picnic area to find another pair of the Red Chairs.

By the time we returned to our site, it was just after 6p.m. It was still warm and sunny. We made dinner and spent the remainder of the evening playing cards at the picnic table.

Day 3: Pyramid Lake

We woke up bright and early as we had a long day ahead of us. We planned to drive along the Icefields Parkway, but first things first, coffee. While we waited for the condensation on our tent to dry, we figured we might as well squeeze in one last hike in Jasper. Plus, the weather was fantastic.

We drove to Pyramid Island. There aren’t many parking spots here, so we figured this was a great hike to do first thing in the morning. I’d say the timing worked out rather well as we spotted another fox on the side of the road.

The trail around Pyramid Island is short and sweet. After crossing the bridge, the trail loops around the island and provides outstanding views of Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Mountain along the way.

Afterwards we hiked a small section of the Pyramid Lake Trail that leads to a scenic overlook of Pyramid Lake and a pair of the Red Chairs. While the trail continues onwards to form a longer loop, we hiked back the way we came.

We returned to our campsite to make breakfast and to pack up and move on.


83 thoughts on “Jasper National Park

      • Harley Gurl says:

        Wow! Such beautiful pictures you shared, I have only driven through the Rockies on route to BC but never had the chance to stop, camp or even enjoy a walk through the parks, this was awesome to read. Thank you for sharing and I really enjoyed this.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. Jasper is very picturesque with all those snow capped mountains and turquoise lakes. We also saw an incredible amount of wildlife when we visited. Hopefully you’re able to return someday to explore it more fully as there are some pretty amazing hikes and overlooks to soak in the scenery.

  1. kagould17 says:

    All of our favourite places. Jasper seldom disappoints with the wildlife sightings. Moose are often spotted near Maligne lake….running from the midges. So glad you had great weather. The midges around Maligne Lake are relentless. As to the Wapiti Campground, this used to be a better spot, before the Mountain Pine Beetle got into the trees. The true horror of what this beetle has done to the trees can be seen across the road at Whistler’s Campground. It was closed for 2 seasons for major rehab (ie: take down all the snag trees). It is now more a parking lot than a campground. We are off to Jasper in a month. Can’t wait. Happy Saturday Linda. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We definitely had the best wildlife encounters in Jasper compared to the other national parks that we hit up during our road trip through the Canadian Rockies. I read about the mountain pine beetle in the Jasper Visitor Guide. It’s such a shame to hear (and see) what it’s done to the forest. The one benefit of our campsite being out in the open meant that our tent dried off super quickly in the morning from all the condensation overnight. I honestly couldn’t care less about the lack of privacy, just as long as it’s quiet. And thankfully it was very peaceful at the Wapiti Campground. That’s very exciting that you’ll be returning to Jasper soon. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures in the mountains. Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Linda

  2. Little Miss Traveller says:

    How beautiful Linda. I’d love to visit Jasper one day. Maligne Lake looks idyllic as do the trails you pictured. Ridiculous that you were made to spend so much on a taxi to your hotel as you arrived after the car hire desk had closed for the night. Still you got there safe and sound which is the main thing! Look forward to hearing more about this trip.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Jasper is easily one of my favourite national parks. The hiking is incredible and the views of the mountains are mesmerizing. Hopefully you’re able to visit someday. I am still annoyed about how ridiculously expensive that taxi was, but hey, I guess I can’t complain too much. At least our flight wasn’t cancelled and we didn’t lose any of our luggage, which had all our camping stuff. It was quite the adventure to get to Jasper, but it was definitely worth the effort and energy.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know. It seems like the midges were extra excited to have some unexpected visitors. It was awful, but at least it was a scenic hike. Turning back was not an option though. We knew if we kept following the shoreline, we’d eventually get back to the trailhead. And thankfully we did and all in one piece, with a few extra midges on the side!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We saw an insane amount of wildlife in Jasper. The best wildlife sightings were typically first thing in the morning. We ended up seeing another bear while driving along the Icefields Parkway and a grizzly bear when we were in Banff.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. We visited Jasper for a day back in 2016 and it pretty much rained the whole time. It was nice to return for longer and that we had such beautiful weather to more fully appreciate the views of the snow capped mountains.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for commenting. The Red Chairs program was first started in 2011 in Gros Morne National Park. Since then, Parks Canada has expanded the program to other national parks and historic sites. We were on a mission to find them all in Jasper. In the end we found 6 out of 7. Not too shabby.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Visiting Jasper was a great way to start our road trip through the Canadian Rockies. It was all very scenic, the trails and the roads through the mountains. Most of the wildlife we encountered was actually when we were driving. And yes, it’s always wonderful to have nice weather, especially when camping. We hardly had any rain.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. We had a wonderful time camping and hiking in Jasper. We also saw an insane amount of wildlife. The nice thing about visiting in the spring was seeing some of the baby animals.

  3. travelling_han says:

    Just wow – the views across the lakes and the wilderness are just epically beautiful, and I love the red chairs! And how special to see the black bear and her cubs, just amazing!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The scenery in Jasper is spectacular. We don’t have mountains or turquoise coloured lakes like that in Ontario! We also saw an incredible amount of wildlife, mostly while driving. Parks Canada started the Red Chairs program just over a decade ago and is such a great idea. They are often placed at a nice viewpoint or overlook. We managed to visit 6 (out of 7) in Jasper.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for commenting. The mountainous landscape looked beautiful and it was exciting to see so much wildlife. We went on a bit of scavenger hunt to find all the Red Chairs and found six (out of seven). Not too bad, eh? Take care. Linda

  4. Ab says:

    I was looking very forward to this recap post and it did not disappoint. What a truly beautiful place – one that I hope to visit one day.

    Those snow-capped mountains are stunning and how awesome that they’re still snowy at June.

    The trails you visited are lovely, in particular Pyramid Island. Good thing you got up there early.

    Did you bring your own camping gear or were they rented? I am very impressed at how compact you both travel. I can only imagine how cold it must be in the morning. But also how stunning it must be to be in the mountains.

    You encountered a lot of beautiful wildlife. The wild foxes are very striking compared to the more short tailed ones we see in the city. Did they keep a safe distance from you both? The elk was also quite majestic looking!

    Lastly, the airport issues sounded annoying. I hope you got reimbursed somehow for that expensive cab ride.

    Thanks for sharing such a lovely travelogue. A real treat on this summery evening.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. We had a wonderful time in the Rockies and couldn’t have asked for better weather. We were a bit bummed that some of the trails were still snowbound (more on that later), but the plus side was that the snow capped mountains just looked so beautiful. And we saw an insane amount of wildlife, mostly when we were driving.

      It was pretty busy though, especially at Banff. So waking up early was a great way to beat the crowds and ensure that we had a parking spot.

      We actually travel with our camping gear. It all fits in our one suitcase and our carry ons. We’ve gotten pretty efficient at packing and pretty much just wear the same thing every day. So we were probably super stinky coming home! Even though we had some delays with our flight, at least our luggage didn’t get lost, otherwise I’m not sure what we would have done.

      Hope you’re enjoying your time out east. Take care. Linda

      • Ab says:

        I probably wouldn’t want to sit next to you on a flight back but that is pretty genius. I get very envious of light packers. We pack so much for just three days of camping. 😆

        I look forward to your other travel recap posts, even the ones about the snowbound trails!

        I can imagine how crowded Banff was. People are just itching to live life again after the last two years.

        The east Coast has been amazing. We are officially halfway done our summer vacation. Lots left to enjoy but it is flying by way too quickly!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Oh I know. In some ways it feels like everyone (including ourselves) is trying to make up for lost time during the pandemic. Despite the crowds, we had an amazing time. I’m glad we went when we did as I’m sure the price of plane tickets and everything else has gone up considerably since then. And who knows if there’s going to be another lockdown in the future in the event there’s a more severe variant. All the more reason to live in the present and make the most of what we have.

        Glad to hear that you’re enjoying your time out east. It’s hard to believe that your summer holidays are already half done. If only we could hit the pause button on life sometimes.

  5. carol hopkins says:

    I would love to visit Jasper! It really isn’t so very far from where we live In Alberta so it’s possible I will get there yet. We have, however, made a short visit to Banff, the vistas there are truly spectacular.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful photographs and information about the trails. Awesome post, as per usual. 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. That’s amazing that Jasper isn’t too far from where you live so hopefully you’re able to visit someday. Even the drive through the park is incredibly scenic. Out of all the national parks that we visited during our road trip, we had the best wildlife sightings in Jasper.

  6. Bama says:

    Jasper is probably among the first Canadian national parks that I learned about many years ago. The photo you use as the opening of this post really encapsulates the beauty and magnificence of this part of your country, Linda. Just spectacular! By the way, I read your comment on Ab’s blog post. I hope K is recovering quickly!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I can see why as the scenery in Jasper is stunning with those snow capped mountains and colourful lakes. It was a wonderful start to our road trip through the Canadian Rockies, especially since the weather was fabulous. Thanks for asking about K. Thankfully his symptoms weren’t too severe and he’s feeling much better now. Oddly enough I managed not to get it.

  7. Diana says:

    I can’t believe you saw two foxes up close! So cute! I also got a kick out of the elk standing right by the Wapiti sign… how appropriate. This was a fun post for me to read, as I’ve been to many of these locations… but not all of them, so I got to reminisce and see some new sights!

  8. salsaworldtraveler says:

    I visited Jasper National Park about 25 years ago with the family. I have vague memories of places but your photos make me remember the feelings of wonder at the scenery and wildlife. I’m glad your experiences were as good as if not better than the ones I recall.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We visited Jasper in 2016 and it pretty much rained the entire time. It was nice to return and have such beautiful weather so we could truly appreciate the beautiful mountainous landscape. I wonder how different the park was 25 years ago.

  9. Butterflybliss says:

    Your photos are absolutely incredible. It looks like a wonderful place to go relax and enjoy what it has to offer.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for commenting. The scenery in Jasper was gorgeous and it was such a great way to start our road trip through the Canadian Rockies. Thankfully we had such fabulous weather for being outdoors and to admire the views.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Glad to hear and I can easily see why you would enjoy your time in Jasper. The views of the mountains never get old. Your national park road trip sounds like it was amazing. We were out west for 10 days. I would have loved to stay for longer.

  10. Vignesh M says:

    Truly a spectacular place for hiking and camping. Also so much wildlife sighting makes up for a good trip. Loved the pair of chairs in red, distinctly visible. So after a hard hike, you could just chill and relax. Awesome post. Jasper now will be in our bucket list 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Jasper is an outdoor enthusiasts dream. We visited a few years ago and it pretty much rained the entire time, so it was nice to return with some blue skies and sun to get the full experience. We saw an incredible amount of wildlife in Jasper, which is always a bonus. Parks Canada started the Red Chairs program just over a decade ago and we’ve been going on a bit of a scavenger hunt to find them all. They are often placed at a nice viewpoint or overlook, which is always a great spot to take a break and admire the views. Hopefully you’re able to visit someday.

  11. leightontravels says:

    What a beautiful place! I would love to visit Jasper. The lakes are sublime and all the wildlife encounters make the visit even more special. Glad you were in a car when you came across the mama bear and her cubs. I kept imagining a little cottage instead of the red chairs, how glorious it would be to have these views from one’s windows. Finally, I share your ‘coffee first’ approach to life. 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Jasper is wonderful. It’s less crowded than Banff and we saw an insane amount of wildlife. Thankfully the bear sightings were while we were driving, which is my ideal bear encounter scenario. Agreed, it would be lovely to have a cottage at any of the Red Chair locations, which are typically at a nice viewpoint. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll get a cabin in the mountains.

  12. grandmisadventures says:

    WOW! Incredible pictures! I can’t believe the number of wildlife that you saw, especially to get to see a bear with cubs so close up. It was interesting to learn that Jasper is the largest of all the national parks. I always love visiting national parks- they are just the most beautiful and interesting places 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We had some pretty amazing wildlife encounters in Jasper. That’s one of the benefits of getting an early start to the day, that and avoiding the crowds. Some of the best scenery and hiking trails can be found within national parks. It’s a great way to protect and preserve the landscape for all to enjoy. And agreed, they are very beautiful and interesting places to explore. I would love to do a road trip through all the national parks in Canada and the US someday.

  13. Josy A says:

    Squeee what a great time!! You were so lucky to see so much wildlife, especially those foxes and the bear!

    Medicine Lake is pretty amazing isn’t it!? We have only seen it full, but my friend told me once the sinkholes are unplugged, it can drain in a single afternoon(!) We visited lots of these spots last year so it is fab to see them through your eyes.

    p.s. if you go back, try to visit Edith Cavell Meadows. That is the area near Jasper that blew me away the most!!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. We had a wonderful time in Jasper. I couldn’t get over how much wildlife we saw. It was great! Agreed, Medicine Lake is gorgeous. That’s so weird that it can drain in a matter of hours. That would be wild to watch. The unfortunate thing about visiting early in the summer was that Edith Cavell Meadows was still closed due to the snow. It was on my list, but it’ll have to wait until another time. Because there is definitely going to be a next time.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It was neat to visit early in the summer when there was still some snow on the mountains, which made them look even more majestic. It was all very beautiful and picturesque.

  14. rkrontheroad says:

    The Rockies are incredible, and especially north in Jasper! Loved the reflections and peaks. You were fortunate to spot many wildlife. The elk alongside the Wapiti sign made me smile.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We had a fabulous time in Jasper and couldn’t have asked for better weather. It’s always nice to spot some wildlife on the trail or along the drive. I’ve never seen a fox so up close before! I couldn’t help but laugh at the elk beside the Wapiti sign either. Talk about perfect timing.

  15. jmankowsky says:

    Your post is magical. It’s like you imagined what a perfectly astonishing park visit would be like , and then you somehow found the pics for it! 😉 You mentioned full parking lots. Do they fill up soon so you would actually be turned away from a given spot?

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for commenting. Jasper is very picturesque. It’s funny because we visited a few years ago and had nothing but overcast and rain, so it was nice to return with some blue skies and sun so we could more fully appreciate the beautiful landscape. Jasper wasn’t too busy, but some of the parking lots at the popular trails can fill up quickly, so we made sure to hike those trails first thing in the morning. We didn’t want to take any chances with having to waste time to wait around for parking spot.

  16. annemariedemyen says:

    Beautiful photos, Linda. Dan & I have been to Edmonton and Calgary but have never taken the time to go to Jasper or Banff. I wouldn’t mind going to Drumheller either. There is an amazing bridge there.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. We’ve been to Jasper before, but had terrible weather with lots of overcast and rain. It was nice to return and to have such fabulous weather. The hiking was incredible and we saw an insane amount of wildlife. We went to Drumheller as well. The landscape looks like it’s from a different planet. We missed out on the bridge though.

      • annemariedemyen says:

        So cool that you went to Drumheller. I have seen a lot of photos from that area and it looks fascinating – and I love bridges. I am glad you had a good trip to Alberta this time around. 🤗

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I’m such a sucker for bridges as well, especially suspension bridges. We were lucky and had really nice weather during our trip out west, which is always great when camping.

  17. alisendopf says:

    Great post. I’ve not spent much time in Jasper so you’ve seen more of it than me.

    You are so lucky to see so much wildlife. And yes! The best way to see a bear is from your car 🤣

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks!! We found Jasper wasn’t nearly as busy as Banff and the scenery was equally as stunning. We also saw the most amount of wildlife in Jasper compared to the other national parks that we visited in the Canadian Rockies. Seeing a bear from the car is my ideal bear encounter. I’ve never seen one on the trail before, and I hope it’ll stay that way!

      • alisendopf says:

        Yes, Jasper and Waterton are way less busy than Banff. I’m glad you got to visit and see so many animals. People pay a lot of money to travel to those parks from Europe for animal sightings. Well done you!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        We had our best wildlife sightings first thing in the morning, which was another great reason to get an early start to the day (besides avoiding the crowds and finding parking). We visited Waterton Lakes back in 2016 and had such a wonderful time. You’re right, it wasn’t very busy and we had some good wildlife sightings there too.

  18. wetanddustyroads says:

    Wow, that is some picturesque trails – the trees, reflections in the water and snow covered mountains are just stunning. And yes, I agree it’s definitely a great start to the day to see an elk from so close by … not even to mention the foxes and black bear cub! I was wondering: Do you ever sit on those lovely red chairs for a while before you continue with your hikes 😀. Great post once again!

  19. Janet says:

    Amazing photos, especially of the wildlife. I can’t remember if I’ve asked this before: do you use your cell phone or a camera?

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! That’s one benefit of getting an early start to our day is that we’re more likely to spot some wildlife. The elk near the Wapiti sign was my favourite. I use my cell phone to take pictures. I’d like to get a proper camera at some point, but worry about learning to use it with all the different lenses and options. Perhaps someday.

  20. Linda K says:

    Beautiful photos of Pyramid Lake! We didn’t get to Jasper our last trip to the Rockies…maybe next summer. We have been in the past and did some canoeing on the Pyramid Lake. So lucky to see those foxes! I don’t think that happens very often as they can be quite shy.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. It was nice to visit Pyramid Lake first thing in the morning when the lake was so calm and quiet. We also found the mornings were a great time to spot some wildlife. I’ve never seen a fox so up close before, and it was neat to see two during our time in Jasper.

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