Snapshot: Jasper National Park

We left Banff and travelled north on the Icefields Parkway to visit another of Canada’s jewels: Jasper National Park.

Athabasca Glacier

There are several parking lots leading up to the glacier, including a large one across the street at the visitor center. You can purchase glacier tour bus tickets (yes, they have special buses that will drive onto the glacier) as well as tickets to the nearby rim walk here.

And I may be biased, but rather than drive onto the glacier, I’d recommend the glacier walking tour instead. With glacial melt happening at such a rapid pace, it seems counterproductive to have big pollution spewing buses taking tourists onto the very features that are directly impacted by said buses. 😕 Plus, how often are you able to hike on a glacier and get up close to features that are ever-changing? (Note: in order to walk onto the glacier, you need to be part of a tour. You can hike alone only up to a certain point on the toe of the glacier but can’t go further for safety reasons.)

It was an amazing experience. We signed up for the 3-hour ‘ice cubed’ tour with Ice Walks. They provide crampons for walking on the ice, and other gear (like a windbreaker or sturdy hiking boots) if you need to borrow any. 

Groups were kept at a reasonable size and the tour itself was very informative. We learned a lot about how glaciers and glacial valleys are formed and unfortunately, about how quickly they’re receding. It’s hard to dispute the impact of climate change in the face of such proof.

For scale – you can see two groups on the toe of the glacier
One of many little rivers snaking through the glacier
Can’t contain my excitement at standing on a glacier (while trying not to fall into a crevasse)

Crampons? Check. Ice pick? Check. Let’s do this!

Sunwapta Falls

Athabasca Falls

Town of Jasper

While not as crowded as Banff town, Jasper still had a lot to offer in the way of restaurants, shops, and other eateries. There was also ample parking for the RV on the street or in a specially designated lot we found. Much easier than Banff!

Maligne Canyon

A good hike that’s close to town with pretty views:

RV/Oversized vehicle parking: We stayed one night at Waterfowl Lakes campground without a reservation and were able to land a spot without too much trouble. There are no hookups here and it cost only $21.50 CAD. The campground is situated by the lake and there are good trails – like the 4 km hike to Chephren Lake – to check out, which start from the campground. 

We also stayed at Whistlers Campground in Jasper. It was conveniently located only a few minutes drive from the main part of town and you may likely spot families of elk passing through your site.

We got some ‘hang time’ in as well. ☺

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