Beautiful Jasper National Park located just about 4 hours drive west of Edmonton, Alberta, is a popular spot for all sorts of outdoor adventure and mountain experiences.
Jasper National Park sits in Treaty 6 and 8 as well as the traditional lands of the Beaver, Cree, Ojibway, Shuswap, Stoney, and Métis Nations.
The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and at 11,228 square kilometers in size, is Canada’s largest park in the Rocky Mountains and the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world, which means there is so little light pollution here that it creates the best conditions for viewing the stars!
In July 2021, Jasper was also recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the “world’s greatest places!” This article also revealed that Jasper is Canada’s ‘cabin capital’ if you’re looking for a cabin escape.
This is the part of the blog post where I remind Albertans just how lucky we are to have incredible spaces like Jasper, right in our backyards—just a short car ride away!
I’ve personally visited Jasper many times over the years, however my blog post travel guide action on the area is shockingly low considering, and compared to its Banff / Canmore / Kananaskis area counterparts, but I’m hoping to rectify that with this post.
I was recently hosted by Tourism Jasper on a Summer 2021 visit to the area, and am so excited to share 5 Adventures you could consider experiencing during your visit to Jasper National Park!
All of these activities I believe are great for all ages and outdoor adventure abilities, but if you have specific questions or concerns, please ask the tour operator directly! Depending on how you adventure (and admittedly, budgets), you likely won’t be able to do all five of these experiences in one go, but pick one or two to do along with whatever non-guided activities you may have planned for your visit and I think you’ve got a pretty amazing time ahead of you.
Explore Alberta: 5 Adventures to Experience in Jasper National Park
I go into detail about these experiences below but just to pull them out here as well:
1. Get Whistlers Mountain Summit Views via the Jasper Skytram
I’ve been joking that taking the Jasper Skytram up to Whistlers Mountain is the easiest way to summit a mountain without any of the associated hiking effort, LOL!
The Jasper Skytram is like a mountain gondola. It takes about 7.5 minutes to ride up or down the tram, which is the longest and highest guided aerial tramway in all of Canada!
The upper level on Whistlers Mountain is at an elevation of 2,263 metres and gives you panoramic views of six mountain ranges, glacially fed lakes, rivers and even the Town of Jasper.
Once at the top, you have the option of hiking 1.4 km up to Whistlers Summit. Even if you don’t do this hike (we didn’t because we had so much to do on our itinerary!), the Jasper Skytram is definitely the easiest and quickest way to get summit views without the work that’s typically involved (as a casual adventurer who 100% does it for the photo ops, this is great news lol).
But I think the ease of the tram and the rewarding views is what it makes this adventure an especially great option for all ages and adventure abilities. Kids, dogs AND cats are welcome. There is also a cafe/restaurant and gift shop, as well as small boardwalk at the top, so you can really make a full day of it.
The Jasper Skytram adventure can be as long or as short as you want. You can just ride up, take in the view, grab a drink from the cafe, and then come back down, or you can ride up, hike to the summit, enjoy the view, hike back down, eat at the restaurant, then ride down, or you could plan to pack a picnic, whatever you want really. Some people also hike Whistlers Mountain INSTEAD of taking the tram (or hike and take the tram down), but that not for casual adventurers lol.
2. Navigate the White Water Rapids of the Athabasca River with Jasper Rafting Adventures
You might be surprised to learn that I’m actually a seasoned white water rafter—really, me! lol. Never judge an adventurer by their cover, ha.
I’ve white water rafted in Jasper, Grande Cache, and near Sundre, Alberta, on the Athabasca River, Sulphur River and Panther Rivers.
- Read about my Grande Cache whitewater rafting experience
- Read about my Sundre whitewater rafting experience
I think I could technically go up a level in rapids at this point but I never want to because then I wouldn’t be able to take photos or videos while on the raft (lol I guess I could invest in a Go-Pro).
White water rafting always feels like a somewhat different experience depending on time of year and river though, some of my white water rafting has been extremely thrilling, other times it’s more like a float, mostly you should expect a bit of both on Class I or II rapids (which is the typical ones for beginners).
For this rafting adventure, we went with Jasper Rafting Adventures on their Class II Athabasca Falls experience which starts at the base of the Athabasca Falls, surrounded by towering canyon walls, mountains and forests of the Athabasca River Valley.
Rafting guides are always so much fun! Animated and full of fun facts.
On this particular trip, and depending on how the water flow is, guides also give you an opportunity to hop out into the water to float a little while! It’s super cold but super fun.
You’re given everything you need to raft as part of the experience (wet suit, socks, shoes, life jacket, paddle), and split up into groups. We did our rafting trip with the Wayne family from Red Deer who were super lovely and great to paddle with.
Pro tip: if you want to get REALLY wet, volunteer for the front spots! The front is definitely the splash zone. You’ll also get a chance to buy photos from the experience too if you don’t bring your own phone or camera for pictures. If you do want to bring your own phone/camera, make sure you have a dry bag to put the equipment in so it can stay dry in between photos!
- You can get 10% off your Jasper Rafting Adventure booking by Sept. 15, 2021 using my code LINDORK (valid on all trips except the Peak to Paddle package)
- Learn more about Jasper Rafting Adventures
The Peak to Paddle package is actually a great one to consider if you want to do the Skytram as well as white water rafting, It saves you a bit of money on both!
3. Rent Canoes, Kayaks or Paddle Boards and Enjoy Lac Beauvert at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
For a non-guided mountain adventure, done at your own pace, consider renting canoes, kayaks, or paddle boards to enjoy the beautiful waters of Lac Beauvert, located at the beautiful Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
It’s quick and easy to rent equipment from the Fairmont JPL Boathouse and the water is super calm for whatever vessel you choose. The Boathouse also have fun pedal boats! Or giant canoes for big parties. And off the water they do bike rentals too.
While you’re there, grab some food or a drink after in the main lodge! Or, if you’ve timed it right, try to get an elusive meal at Oka Sushi in the JPL lower level (elusive because Oka Sushi is ALWAYS sold out or closed on the days you’re there lol if you want it, you have to plan your trip around it).
4. Go on a Guided Hike, Backcountry Cooking Lesson and Enjoy a Freshly-Made Mountain Meal as part of Jasper Food Tours’ Peak-nic Experience!
There is an absolutely incredible and unique mountain experience I can’t rave enough about in Jasper, called Peak-Nic, put on by Jasper Food Tours.
Peak-Nic is basically a guided hike, backcountry cooking lesson, and meal all in one!!
Watch my video about Peak-nic:
View this post on Instagram
As part of Peak-Nic, you take a 3.8 km hike is up Old Fort Point Trail, which is considered an intermediate hike (but one of the easiest ones in Jasper), hiking up the back side (take the left path instead of the right/stairs path from the parking lot), learning all sorts of information about wildlife and the park from guide Estelle, a seasoned hiker and backcountry chef who is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and also super patient!
The patient guide piece is important if you’re a casual hiker like me and my friend Rachel are. Officially, Peak-Nic says you need to have “some reasonable fitness level” to do it lol as there are some steep sections.
We definitely took longer than Estelle’s typical groups but she says this wasn’t really because we were any slower, it was more because we were stopping to take so many photos and videos, LOL. Estelle is very kind.
Once you get to the peak, Estelle sets up her portable backcountry kitchen and you participate in an interactive cooking class (set to the most beautiful view!!!—imagine it without the smoke we unfortunately had during our visit).
You learn different backcountry cooking techniques and learn about the ingredients Estelle has picked, and then you get to sit basically on a cliff to eat and enjoy your food before you take a short hike back down to the parking lot.
THE FOOD WAS AMAZING!! We had rice, dal makhani, paneer cheese, naan and cucumbers. Rachel is celiac so this menu worked for her with a chips replacement for naan. It was sooo satisfying to eat this after hiking up to the peak. And the experience is designed so we leave no trace of food or anything (very important, especially in a national park!)
This is a truly unforgettable experience that I think if Rachel and I, as casual hikers could do (especially with Rachel recovering from a knee injury), than I think you could do it too.
Families / kids can also do this tour, but just make sure your kid can go long distances, or you have back-up options in case your gets tired (are you willing to carry them? lol)
Estelle’s team can also do private tours if you’re worried about taking a bit longer, or family members not being on their A game as you hike lol.
A minimum two hikers are required for Peak-Nic to proceed. We were a group of four in total (including Estelle and solo hiker Lindsay, who was also great ant patient with our photos lol).
Peak-Nic is offered as both a lunch time or dinner time experience.
- Learn more about Jasper Food Tours
- Learn more about the Peak-nic Experience
- Use my code LINDORK for 10% off your Peak-Nic booking! (no expiry)
Jasper Food Tours also puts on a great food crawl experience in town if you prefer less of a hike but still a food-focused adventure, and many other tours including a Skytram package if you’re also interested in doing both and saving a bit of money! The Peak-nic experience was also named one of the top activities to do in Canada in that TIME magazine article. It’s a must-experience!!!
5. Ride around Jasper National Park or the Columbia Icefields Parkway via Motorcycle Sidecar with Jasper Motorcycle Tours
Our final adventure on this Summer 2021 Jasper experience was something ridiculously cool—and considered by many to be a bucket list, once-in-a-lifetime experience!
There are so many different types of tours you can book in Jasper, as you’ve read—some have you hiking, some have you on the water.
Well how about an experience that puts you on the back of a motorcycle, or in a motorcycle sidecar (!!! so unique !!!), where a professional motorcycle driver takes you to different scenic spots in Jasper National Park, or down the Columbia Icefields Parkway, all the while sharing fun facts along the ride (motorcycles are loud but your motorcycle tour guide is actually really easy to hear lol).
Jasper Motorcycle Tours offers Rocky Mountain rides on Harley Davidson motorcycles for one, two, three or full day experiences. When they started in 2017, they. were the only adventure offering of its kind in all of North America!
A big part of the experience is getting dressed to go. You’ll be fitted in leather motorcycle chaps, a leather jacket, a do-rag and helmet before hopping into the sidecar or onto the backseat of the sleek Harley Davidson. Getting dressed the part is seriously SO much fun, this will seriously be the most badass (um, or ridiculous) you will ever look—LOL!
Depending on how long you book, you might ride up Marmot Basin Road or to Mount Edith Cavell, or you’ll head to Maligne Lake or the Miette Hot Springs, or find yourself over by Medicine Lake or Maligne Canyon, OR the pinncale ride is a six-hour / all day “signature experience” along 100 km of what National Geographic has named one of the top ten “Greatest Drives in the World” along the Columbia Icefields Parkway.
On our ride we rode up to Mount Edith Cavell, up Marmot Basin Road, stopped in at The Edge of the World, and down to Lac Beauvert (opposite end of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge), and around town where we waved at curious onlookers.
We also stopped for a little food break (though this is not typical of the tour experience lol most people want to utilize the time for maximum riding and views, which makes sense lol).
- Learn more about Jasper Motorcycle Tours
- See all Jasper Motorcycle Tour packages
- I think the Ride and Fly Package, which gets you a 1-hour motorcycle ride plus access to the Jasper Skytram is a great value!
For this experience, I’d just caution about potential car sickness. I did get a little dizzy. Rachel popped a nausea pill before we got started so she was feeling great the whole time!
I preferred sitting in the sidecar but Rachel preferred the back of the motorcycle (you definitely get a better view from the back of motorcycle but I felt sturdier in the sidecar lol).
They also note this everywhere on their website but definitely don’t wear a dress like I originally did, LMAO, we had to go change, since you need to put on chaps and stuff, lol.
Watch my Jasper Motorcycle Tours video:
And of course: experience locally-owned restaurants in Jasper, Alberta
What trip anywhere would be complete without taking in some local eats?
For this Jasper, Alberta visit, we got to try a few spots that I’d recommend:
- Tekarra Restaurant: a lovely local restaurant situated at Tekarra Lodge, just steps from the Athabasca River, owned by the same people behind Jasper’s popular Evil Dave’s Grill, Tekarra serves up a meaty menu with Alberta beef, chicken, and more unique cuts of elk, bison and wild boar. “Fresh is best” here as they focus on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. Their cocktails are colourful and delicious, and it’s common to order drinks and step over to the ridge to take in the river view while your main dishes are being prepared. If you stay at Tekkara Lodge or the nearby Alpine Village, Tekkara Restaurant is your spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Sit on the patio and order the Tekarra Board (cheeses, three cured meats, house made fig preserve, pickles, olives, mustard and rustic baguette), B.C. scallops with wild boar bacon jam and truffle, leek, corn coulis, plus try something different like wild boar chops, a Tekarra meatloaf, or Big Game Burger. They also have a gluten free menu too (Rachel loved her Rainbow Trout!)
- Also any of their cocktails would be lovely, and they can also make them virgin if you’re not having alcohol! Rocky Mountain Lemonade and Stargazer.
- For breakfast, get the Rocky Mountain Skillet (it’s gluten free!) and or a croissantwich (breakfast sandwich).
- Jasper Pizza Place: along the main road in town you’ll find an assortment of restaurants to choose from, including the Jasper Pizza Place, which is also one of the few spots in town with a rooftop patio! The pizzas are the star here, made from wood burning and traditional ovens. The restaurant (including ground level and rooftop patios) are well suited for large groups and big families. The rooftop patio is also covered.
- This is another restaurant that offers gluten-free food for my celiac friend Rachel. Try a BBQ chicken or do what I did and Build Your Own Pizza!
- The Jasper Pizza Place housemade, non-alcoholic peach or blueberry sodas are also a must-order!
- Coco’s Cafe: Popular for their artisan breads, breakfast items and drinks, Coco’s is a cute little bustling cafe where you can pick up some sustenance to get you going for a day of adventure (they even do a bagged lunch for that very purpose!)
- Try their reuben on rye, rotating soup of the day, bagels or breakfast wraps. I also enjoyed my matcha latte from here!
Where to stay in Jasper, Alberta
Finally, where should you stay while in Jasper?
Here are a few options depending on your preferred vibe:
- Alpine Village Cabin Resort: this is where we were put up during our stay with Tourism Jasper and it was SO nice. These are the cutest cabins with beautiful decks or front porch sitting areas, just a hop skip from the Athabasca River, located just outside the main town making for a bit more of a secluded / rustic experience. There are some beautiful touches inside these cabins, sleek showers, beautiful bowl sinks, copper details, plus lots of wood beams and a whole lot of lumberjack plaid lol. There’s an outdoor hot pool here which we unfortunately didn’t get a chance to experience because of our packed adventure days but it’s really quite lovely and on one day we saw a deer prancing around the grounds. Alpine Village has been family owned and operated since 1986 and is truly a cozy spot to stay (very cabin in the woods vibes), though. worth noting that Wi-Fi/service is not the best here lol but figure you won’t really need it as you’ll be out adventuring all day anyway!
- Tekkara Lodge: Just down the road from Alpine Village you’ll find Tekkara Lodge (home to Tekkara Restaurant, which I wrote about above). Tekkara Lodge is another secluded cabin accommodation outside of the main town. Worth noting: Tekkara Lodge IS pet friendly (we saw lots of dogs walking around with their families during our dinner and breakfast at the restaurant). The lodge also offers different activities on site morning yoga or evening s’mores, interpretive talks and live music. The cabins aren’t as cute as Alpine Village cabins but the on-property activities are a great perk (and the pet-friendliness!)
- Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge: The stunning Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is a ‘village of heritage log cabins’ located next to the emerald-green Lac Beauvert. As with any Fairmont property, you can expect the utmost high quality hospitality here, and it feels like resort vibes with multiple restaurants, shops, and daily activities you can take part in. The Fairmont JPL is also pet-friendly (in fact they used to host a pet weekend called Dog Days of May!) and you may have. heard of the JPL as the home of the wildly popular Christmas in November, an unforgettable food and wine festival that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend !
- Whistlers Campground: a lot of people on our whitewater rafting adventure were staying at this campground! This is a recently renovated campground (newly reopened as of June 2021) and its location gives you beautiful views of Pyramid Mountain.
So there are just a few ideas to help you plan your Jasper, Alberta adventures!
Don’t forget you can get some discounts on your booking using my codes below, or if you’re interested in combining adventures, many of the operators have packages with one another!
- Get 10% off your Jasper Rafting Adventure booking by Sept. 15, 2021 using my code LINDORK (valid on all trips except the Peak to Paddle package)
- Get 10% off your Peak-Nic experience with Jasper Food Tours using my code LINDORK
- Check out my 2019 blog: 15 Things to Do in Jasper, Alberta for even more ideas
Be sure to check out my other Explore Alberta travel guides:
Disclaimer: my July 2021 visit to Jasper, Alberta was hosted by Tourism Jasper. This does not impact views stated in this post. I loved all of the adventures we got up to and think you’ll really enjoy them too!! Some of my outdoor adventure outfits were also sponsored by SportChek, and gifted by Campers Village, but this also does not impact my views about them—highly recommend any items I’m wearing!
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