Jasper National Park

Downtown Jasper

When we visited Jasper ten years ago, we stayed in a cabin outside the town. This time, we were very central and the big bonus of that is we got to appreciate some excellent restaurants right on our doorstep. I can heartily recommend Jasper Pizza Place, Olive Bistro, Raven Bistro and Syrah’s of Jasper – and there were several other places I’d like to have tried if we’d been there longer. So what did we do other than eat?

Jasper Town

Stroll along the main street, Connaught Drive (above), and I defy you not to be transfixed by the mountain views – but  trains and totem poles are available too.

Mina and Riley Lakes Loop

We followed this 9km trail right from downtown on our first morning, no need to even move the car. It was a beautiful, still day as you can see from the reflections – as we feasted on our picnics, the bugs feasted on us…

Jasper Tramway

On our second day we took the tramway more than 1000 vertical metres (3280 feet) up Whistlers Mountain from where we hiked the (very steep) mile to the summit. The views are awesome, and Parks Canada has helpfully placed some beautiful red chairs just where you can admire Mount Edith Cavell. (These chairs are all over the country – the idea is to share them on social media).

Whistlers is named for the hoary marmots which live on the summit. We saw several of them as well as white-tailed ptarmigans and golden-mantled ground squirrels. One of the latter appears to be trying to eat a tissue!

After a reasonable lunch in the tramway’s top station, we headed back down the mountain for another hike on flatter terrain.

Valley of the Five Lakes

There were, indeed, five lakes on this trail! Third Lake had another set of red chairs, just right for enjoying the view. I think I have these lakes labelled right….

Maligne Canyon and Lake

Our final day in Jasper was my birthday, which we celebrated in the worst weather of the whole trip. Our first stop was Maligne Canyon, a steep narrow gorge crossed by several bridges.

On to Maligne Lake, where we did a couple of short trails in a sleet-storm! This made the paths muddy and treacherous – you might spot that from the state of John’s left trouser leg. Yes, it was his turn to slip.

Maybe it was the cooler, wetter conditions that made this a good day for wildlife spotting. Deer in abundance, and twice – bears! Only one bear picture good enough to share though.

From Jasper, we headed back south to Lake Louise, our last stop in the Rockies.

Canadian Rockies: Jasper and the Icefields Parkway

Along the Icefields Parkway
Along the Icefields Parkway

Heading north on the Icefields Parkway we stopped off at the Icefield Centre to take a tour of the Athabasca Glacier in an Ice Explorer, a vehicle with balloon tyres that can drive over the crevassed surface. There was also plenty of time to walk (slide) about on the ice and take pictures.

The next day (my 50th birthday) we hiked the Cavell Meadows trail. The snow-covered Mount Edith Cavell peeks out in the centre of the photo below – at 11000+ feet, no way were we ever going to hike all the way up that!

Mount Edith Cavell
Mount Edith Cavell

The Cavell Meadows trail took us to several viewpoints with good views of the mountain and Angel Glacier.

Day 2 saw us at Maligne Canyon, Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake.

On our final day in Jasper we took the Jasper Tramway 3280 feet up the steep north face of The Whistlers – named after the hoary marmots that live there – and we were lucky enough to see one. From the upper terminal, we hiked to the true summit.

The next day we headed back south to our last stop – Lake Louise. More next Monday!