Continuing our trip in Canada, we traveled from Banff National Park to Jasper National Park, along the Icefields Parkway, (Hwy 93). Before embarking on this grand tour, I did a lot of research and made camping reservations for along the way. Although I did pretty well in my planning, I was not prepared at the sheer distance between the parks. It took about 4 hours to drive into Jasper, which looked like a mere hop, skip, and jump on the map. We did not mind at all, however, because the drive was absolutely stunning and such a voyeur’s rush! Along the route to Jasper, I viewed sharp granite peaks, endless valleys, huge glaciers, emerald blue lakes, swollen rushing rivers, beautiful lush green forests, and amazing forest animals, like bears, mountain sheep, and Canada geese. I was as giddy as a young child going to Disneyland for the first time. My eyes were in stimulation overload at the spectacular scenery of the Icefields Parkway.
The campground that we stayed was Whistlers Campground. This was a wonderful campground! The sites were large and somewhat secluded. It was a very foresty and quiet campground. There were little hobbit trails throughout the camp to take easy and enjoyable strolls through. The amenities were excellent (wash rooms, hot showers, playground, firewood for sale, interpretive walks, etc.). The best experience at this campground was the huge herd of elk that came to visit as the sun was setting…Absolutely awesome!!!
The town of Jasper is quite quaint, but teeming with people…Not as many as Banff, so it was very tolerable. I must say that the Canadian people are very welcoming and truly appreciate the tourists. I visited the Jasper Park Information Centre to ask questions about transportation to and from the Skyline Trail, because my son and I were going to backpack the 30 mile trail in a few days. The ranger was very informative and answered all my questions thoroughly. A couple of noteworthy restaurants were: Jasper Brewing Company, Bright Spot Family Restaurant, and Bear’s Paw Bakery. I did not eat out much because I had an RV to cook my meals in, so these are definitely not an exhaustive list, but ones that I found very delicious!
We spent a couple of days exploring Jasper National Park. We visited Athbasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and Jasper Lake. The falls were spectacular, with the stunning mountain backdrops, and the deep gorges forged by glaciers and the glacial river. I was blown away by the sheer power of the rushing water! The bridges and walkways were a little more extensive at Athbasca Falls, but both areas provided beautiful views of the forces of nature.
Jasper Lake was remarkable as well. It is actually part of the Athbasca River. We walked quite aways out and were only knee-high deep in the water. Jasper Lake Sand Dunes is the only sand dune ecosystem found in the Canadian Rockies. The dunes were formed during the last ice age, and have been reshaped by water and wind ever since. The dunes provided a stark contrast to the Canadian Rockies, which surrounded them. The lake acts like a sieve for the silt and sand that come off the dunes. I guess that’s the reason it’s such a shallow lake.
Two other lakes we visited were Medicine and Maligne Lakes, along the scenic Maligne Lake Road. Medicine Lake is a geologic anomaly, because it isn’t really a lake, but a huge drainage basin for the surrounding peaks and glaciers. It is actually part of Maligne River, which flows from Maligne Lake into the Athabasca River. During the summer months, the “lake” fills with meltwater runoff, but slowly drains into aquifers, becoming a river with small pools. The underground water system is one of the most extensive in the world. Medicine lake is a gorgeous “lake” with quite a story behind it.
Maligne Lake is a resort and photographers paradise! It is famous for the color of its water, the surrounding glaciated peaks, and Spirit Island. It is coined as the largest glacial fed lake. Wildlife is abundant around the lake (bears, caribou, wolves, moose, mountain sheep, eagles, osprey, Canada geese, etc.). There are plenty of activities and services offered at the lake. Shuttle buses are available from Jasper, and boat tours are also available that run to Spirit Island from spring to autumn. There are boat and kayak rentals, as well as a gift shop and restaurant at the lake. There are two campgrounds available near the lake, Coronet Creek and Fishermen’s Bay Campgrounds. It would be very easy to spend a week at this lake just hiking, fishing, and boating. Maligne Lake was one of my favorites in Jasper NP. It’s another must visit attraction in Canada!
I could definitely live in Jasper…My kind of national park, quaint town, and mountainous topography. The town and park have so much to offer, from spectacular scenery to activities that challenge anyone’s sense of adventure! We spent a week here, but I could spend a lifetime!!! Canada please take me away! ❤ Happy Trails! ~Solo Yolo