The Best Things to Do in Jasper for First-Time Visitors

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A bridge inside Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park is one of the best places in Alberta to hike, drive, and explore the Canadian Rockies. If you’re planning a first-time visit, we have 10 suggestions for things to do in Jasper to make your stay enjoyable and memorable.

The Rocky Mountains stretch from northern Alberta and British Columbia all the way to New Mexico, a distance of about 3,000 miles.

Although Colorado may be the most well-known location, these towering peaks in Canada have stunning beauty and adventure, too. Let’s dive in!

Where Is Jasper?

Jasper, located in Alberta, Canada, is a town right off Highway 16 and Highway 93. It’s a little less than five hours from the province’s capital, Edmonton, and about four and a half hours from its largest city, Calgary. 

Jasper is also very close to the border of British Columbia. A 30-mile drive west along Highway 16 will take you into the next Canadian province.

What Is Jasper Known For?

Jasper is most known for Jasper National Park, the largest national park within Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Banff National Park is also located in the Rockies and is Canada’s oldest national park. It’s about three hours southeast of town.

Jasper National Park covers approximately 4,200 square miles of glaciers, springs, lakes, canyons, waterfalls, and mountains.

The park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to elk, caribou, moose, lynx, grizzly bears, and coyotes.

Other wildlife in the area include mountain goats, bighorn sheep, black bears, timber wolves, cougars, bald eagles, golden eagles, and great horned owls.

You can check out our article “The Best Things to Do in Jasper for First-Time Visitors” for more details about visiting this part of Alberta, Canada.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Jasper?

Because the summer days are long and pleasant, June through August is the best time to visit Jasper. The longer days give visitors ample time to hike, bike, paddle, and explore the area.

However, these are also the busiest months. So if you don’t plan ahead, you likely won’t get a reservation. You’ll encounter heavier crowds than during other times of the year, but all attractions and rentals will be open during this peak season.

10 Best Things to Do in Jasper for First-Time Visitors

Jasper is a great place to visit for summer vacation. You can enjoy so many outdoor activities. But even if you aren’t physically able to hike or explore, you have other ways you can enjoy this beautiful landscape in Alberta, Canada.

Let’s look at 10 of the best things to do in Jasper!

1. Travel the Icefields Parkway Into Town

The Icefields Parkway presents numerous opportunities to view the breathtaking scenery of Jasper National Park. About 21 miles from Jasper is the Athabasca Falls, and about 14 miles farther is the Sunwapta Falls. 

If you want to drive a bit farther, you can walk the Glacier Sky Walk, a unique glass-floored observation platform 918 feet over the Sunwapta Valley.

Keep in Mind: Take a look at 10 stops worth visiting along the Icefields Parkway!

View of the Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park

2. Walk on a Glacier in the Columbia Icefield

The short walk to the Athabasca Glacier is one stop along the Icefields Parkway. It lies on the Columbia Icefields Parkway midway between Jasper and Banff National Park. 

It’s about 62 miles from town. The views of the glacier are spectacular, but actually walking on a glacier is a memory for a lifetime!

3. Hike Maligne Canyon

Next, you can hike Maligne Canyon. This 2.3-mile loop starts about 10 minutes from Jasper. It’s a moderate hike with only a 429-foot elevation gain.

Along the entire trail, you’ll have stunning views of the narrow canyon with plenty of overlooks. This trail is popular, so try to arrive as early as possible.

View of Maligne Canyon Trail inside Jasper National Park

4. Take the Scenic Drive to Maligne Lake

Head out of town and drive to Maligne Lake for another beautiful drive. The trip is about 27 miles from the town. 

You’ll view the mountains, lakes, and forests that make Jasper National Park famous. Once you arrive at Maligne Lake, you’ll see numerous peaks and glaciers. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife!

5. Grab a Drink at Jasper Brewing Company

When it’s time to relax from exploring, one of our top things to do in Jasper is stop by Jasper Brewing Company. Grab an IPA, ale, stout, or cider. 

Town locals own this brewing company, which has served the community since 2005. If you’re hungry, order up wings, fish and chips, or a burger.

6. Ride the Jasper SkyTram

If you don’t fear heights, the Jasper SkyTram is a must-do when visiting Jasper. This tourist attraction is open daily and gives you a totally different perspective of the Canadian Rockies. 

Children under age 6 get in free, but all other riders must purchase tickets. This includes dogs.

The Jasper Sky Tram is Canada’s longest and highest guided aerial tramway, so be prepared to be amazed! Read more about how to experience the Jasper Skytram here.

7. Soak in Miette Hot Springs

Visiting Jasper isn’t just about hiking and scenic driving. You also have an excellent chance to relax and soak in the Miette Hot Springs

Open daily, the springs offer multiple hot pools and cool plunge pools. It’s first-come, first-served, so try to arrive before noon. You can purchase a single entry or a punch card.

Keep in Mind: Another hot spring worth visiting in Canada is Liard Hot Springs! Click the link to start planning your visit.

View of Miette Hot Springs inside Jasper National Park

8. Hike Valley of the Five Lakes

Another great loop is the 3-mile Valley of the Five Lakes, where you hike through forests and loop around the five lakes before returning to the parking lot. 

This moderate trail only has a 534-foot elevation gain. You can also enjoy two swim areas along the trail. The beautiful blues and greens of the lakes reflect the majestic peaks and trees surrounding the landscape.

A couple smiling at the Valley of the Five Lakes inside Jasper National Park

9. Visit the Jasper Planetarium

If you want things to do inside, the Jasper Planetarium is another top thing to do in Jasper. The staff share Aboriginal constellation stories, tips to view the Northern Lights, how to photograph the Milky Way, and provide hands-on experiences.

Pricing starts at $29 for the planetarium experience only. But you can add on the telescope experience and take a look at the night skies of the world’s largest dark sky preserve!

10. Be in Awe of the Night Sky

Finally, you don’t have to go to the planetarium to view the night sky, although we would suggest it. Jasper National Park is a dark sky preserve for a reason. 

The limited light pollution here creates optimal night viewing. Canada has 17 dark sky preserves, and Jasper National Park is the largest.

Head out to Medicine Lake, Pyramid Lake, Lake Annette, or the Maligne Canyon for some of the best stargazing in the region.

A tent set up in Jasper National Park at night

Is It Expensive to Visit Jasper?

Jasper isn’t any more expensive to visit than any other tourist destination. Hotel rates are moderate and range from around $70 to over $200, depending on the amenities and location. 

Campgrounds will offer full hookups or dry camping sites for $20 to $50 per night. All Canadian national parks require a pass or daily entrance fee. But if you want a place to spend a summer vacation, this mountain won’t necessarily break the bank.

Visit One of Canada’s Jewels in Jasper This Summer

Canada is home to 37 national parks and 10 national park reserves. Jasper National Park is one of the most visited places, with over 2 million guests annually. 

The next time you plan a family trip or a romantic getaway, consider traveling north of the border and exploring Alberta, Canada. Spend some quality time relaxing in a hot spring or hiking to stunning mountain lakes.

 With so many things to do in Jasper, you might never want to go home!

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