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12 Stunning sights you must see in Jasper National Park

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What do you get when you mix breathtaking mountains, forests, glaciers and families of fearless elk that stride past you so close you can almost reach out and touch them?

Jasper National Park.

If you haven’t visited, put this majestic park on your Canada bucket list of must-see places to explore.

What you must see in Jasper National Park

What you must see in Jasper National Park

Located in the Canadian Rockies, Jasper is one of the oldest and largest national parks in Canada.

It spans 4,200 sq. miles (almost 11,000 sq. km) of wilderness.

Needless to say, there’s plenty of room to roam. And oodles of beautiful sights you must see in Jasper National Park.

Oh, about those elk.

Before we continue, you should know that you really shouldn’t get too close to elk, as they can be aggressive.

It’s just that sometimes elk meander very close to you. So be aware.

Anyway, wildlife warning out of the way, here are some of the best things to see in Jasper National Park – along with some inspirational photos.

Sad confession: The best photos aren’t ours :-). But some of them are! (Photo credits are at the end of this post.)

1) Maligne Canyon

One of the sights you must see in Jasper National Park is Maligne Canyon.

One of the most popular Jasper attractions is Maligne Canyon.

A truly spectacular gorge, it plunges to depths 160 feet (48 m) and more.

A hike along the canyon is the ultimate way to experience it. You can start from various points along the canyon, and the trail crosses several bridges.

Maligne Canyon bridge in Jasper

From the Fifth Bridge to the First Bridge, the hike there and back takes around 2.5 hours.

We started our hike at Fifth Bridge, then walked upstream along the side of the rushing river. 

At one point, we even saw a rainbow created by rising mist from the gushing water below.

Maligne Canyon, Jasper

Winter in Jasper is a completely different experience.

You can hike up inside Maligne Canyon and get close-up views of frozen waterfalls.

Maligne Canyon in Winter

2) Maligne Lake

Spirit Island on Maligne Lake, Jasper

Known as “Beaver Lake” by the First Nations people who lived in Jasper, Maligne Lake is the largest natural lake in the Rockies – 13 miles (22 km) long.

Canoeing on the lake is fun.

Boat cruises to Spirit Island are also popular.

Maligne Lake canoes

And like Maligne Canyon, Maligne Lake is one of the best places to visit in Jasper National Park.

3) Elk!

Elk in Jasper National Park, Alberta

We love everything wild, especially wildlife. (Gawking at the “Big Five” on safari in Africa is something we’ll never forget.)

About 1,300 elk live in Jasper National Park.

So the elk are one of our favorite Jasper National Park attractions.

An elk in Jasper National Park

You don’t even have to go anywhere in particular to see elk in Jasper.

You often spot them in fields along the highways (Highway 16 and Highway 93), as well as in and around the town.

At dusk, we saw families of elk grazing on the grass right outside our rented cabin.

4) Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake, Jasper

Nestled in the Maligne Valley, Medicine Lake isn’t really a lake but a catchwater basin for overflow glacial water from the Maligne River.

By early summer, the water pools up to form the lake.

Come autumn, though, you might only see a few small pools – the rest of the lake water having drained through underground sinkholes over the course of the summer.

If you’re lucky, you might even see black bears grazing near the lake!

You often see bears at Medicine Lake in Jasper National Park.

Bears in Jasper

If you see a bear, be sure not to approach it – and stay at a good distance away. And you no doubt know you must never feed bears.

In fact, you should be “bear aware” whenever you’re in the mountains in Canada – whether hiking to the Joffre Lakes near Whistler in BC, or just checking out what to see in Jasper National Park.

5) Lake Edith And Lake Annette

Two of the warmest lakes in Jasper are Lake Edith and Lake Annette, a few miles away from the town center.

The more popular lake is Lake Annette; it has a long curve of sandy beach with a large grassy area and picnic tables.

Swimming at Lake Edith and Lake Annette is popular in summer in Jasper.

Lake Edith usually has fewer people. But both lakes are fairly quiet.

And on a hot summer day, both lakes are must-see places in Jasper National Park. Because… they’re both very inviting for a quick swim to cool off!

6) Moose Lake

Moose in Jasper National Park

So, what do you think you might see at Moose Lake? Yes, the name is a giveaway.

And the lake is indeed one of the best places to see wildlife in Jasper. Meaning moose, of course.

For a short quick hike, the loop around Moose Lake is a pleasant one. It’s just over 1.5 miles (2.7 km) and will probably take about 30 minutes.

Best places to see wildlife in Jasper National Park? Moose Lake
Best places to see wildlife in Jasper National Park? Moose Lake

Keep an eye out for moose in the forest or swimming in the lake!

And just like with other wildlife, always keep your distance.

7) Angel Glacier and Cavell Meadows

Angel and Edith Cavell Glaciers, Jasper National Park

The hike to Cavell Meadows is one of the most spectacular and best hikes in Jasper.

If you don’t want to walk too far, a short easy trail, just over 1 mile (1.6 km) roundtrip, takes you right up to the face of two glaciers

Angel Glacier hangs on Mount Edith Cavell, spreading out her wings, and Edith Cavell Glacier sits above the meltwater of the pond below.

We took the longer route, about 5 miles (8 km) roundtrip, working our way up through a boulder field and continuing on through forest into alpine meadows at the top.

Angel Glacier Viewpoint, Jasper

The views of the two glaciers are staggering up here – they really are sights you absolutely must see in Jasper National Park.

On the way down, we watched a family of hoary marmots (like large bushy squirrels) frolic in the rock boulders and lie out in the sun.

Marmot in Jasper National Park

8) Pyramid Lake

One of the best places to see in Jasper National Park? Beautiful Pyramid Lake.

Another must-see in Jasper, this small kidney-shaped lake is picture-perfect.

An easy trail, just over a mile long (2 km), winds along the lakeshore. There’s also a wooden bridge you can walk across to a teeny island in the middle of the lake.

Pyramid Lake truly is one of the most beautiful places to see in Jasper National Park.

9) Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls, Jasper

On the upper Athabasca River, Athabasca Falls is not very high (75 ft or 23 m).

But they’re very powerful.

A short trail – about ½ a mile (1 km) – along the canyon offers lots of photo opps. There’s a bridge too that crosses right over the falls.

Lichen on the boulders changes color with the seasons – from green and gold in the summer to orange and red in autumn.

10) Wildflowers

Wildflowers in Jasper National Park

Ahhh. The wildflowers in spring and summer!

They’re as pretty as the mountains are breathtaking.

A sea of colorful alpine wildflowers – scarlet Indian paintbrushes and cheerful yellow Arnicas – greeted us when we hiked in the Cavell Meadows.

Purple calypso orchids

You can also see carpets of purple calypso orchids and blue asters.

Again, like the elk, you don’t have to go to any particular place in Jasper to enjoy them – they’ll be blooming all around you!

11) Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway, Alberta, is one of the best sights near Jasper National Park.

The Icefields Parkway is the super-scenic stretch of highway heading up from Lake Louise to Jasper.

If you’re driving from Banff to Jasper (perhaps coming from Calgary), you’ll naturally drive up the Icefields Parkway.

And what a great idea!

Parks Canada has placed several bright red Adirondack chairs at scenic spots in national parks across the country – perfectly situated for kicking back and soaking in the majestic views.

Canadian national parks red chairs in Jasper National park

The idea is to sit quietly and really connect with nature.

We took in the views – and had our photo taken – at two of Parks Canada’s bright red chairs at a picnic spot on the Icefields Parkway.

12) Sunwapta Falls

Sunwapta Falls, Jasper

The Sunwapta Falls are the last in our round-up of best sights in Jasper National Park.

Located on the Icefields Parkway, they’re a pair of waterfalls created by hanging valleys.

The Upper Falls are right next to the road, so they’re convenient to walk to and photograph. The Lower Falls are a short hike away.

The falls are most impressive in late spring when snow and ice are melting, and clouds of mist swirl around.

As you can see, there are many spectacular things to gawk at and places to visit in Jasper!

Less touristy and busy than Banff National Park, Jasper National Park holds a special place in our hearts as a treasured family vacation spot. We have no doubt you’ll fall in love with Jasper too.

More information about Jasper Park

See the Parks Canada website on Jasper.

Experience more of Canada!

Read our posts on:

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Vancouver | Bicycling Stanley Park is a fun and healthy way to experience the city! Discover the best bike rental places and what you’ll see in the Park.

Gulf Islands | Check out all the best things to do in Salt Spring and Galiano! Pssst! Don’t miss the fairy doors when hiking Mount Erskine.

Parksville and Qualicum Beach | What to do in Parksville and Qualicum Beach? Lots of crazy fun things! (Be sure to see the goats on the roof in Coombs.)


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Photo credits: 4, 5, 11, 17, 18, 23, 27 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase


Have you visited Jasper?

What sights or things do you think people absolutely must see in Jasper National Park?


About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews and information, insanely useful travel tips and more!

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Carol

Sunday 30th of August 2015

I was here just two weeks ago! Sadly, only in Jasper for one night (at the lovely Jasper Park Lodge), but we also spent a few days in Banff and on the Rocky Mountaineer. I love that area of the world. Just love it. And I wish I'd gotten photos as good as yours!

Janice and George

Monday 31st of August 2015

Jasper Park Lodge? Nice... We had drinks there - the manicured grounds and setting are really lovely. The Rocky Mountaineer looks like a great way to experience a trip through the Rockies (we've read - and chuckled over - some of your posts on this).

Kathryn Burrington

Saturday 29th of August 2015

Thanks so much for telling me about this post. Such beautiful pictures. And so fascinating to read about the Cavell Meadows and Glacier. As you know I've written about Edith Cavell in a post about Bodiam Castle and the nearby exhibition about her and the Unknown Soldier. It brought tears to my eyes reading about each of them. I'd love to know how this meadow and the glacier came to bear the name of an English nurse. Perhaps simply out of respect, she was an inspirational woman.

Janice and George

Saturday 29th of August 2015

The story of Edith Cavell - the British nurse executed during World War I for her part in helping Allied prisoners escape German-occupied Belgium - really is inspirational, as you describe in your post. The mountain, glacier and meadows in Jasper were named after her as a testament to her bravery and strength.

Irene S. Levine

Tuesday 25th of August 2015

I've never visited Jasper but your photos are breathtaking! Looks like such a "cool" place to enjoy summer!

Suze

Saturday 22nd of August 2015

Those photos of the elk are incredible and Maligne Canyon looks beautiful!

Marie

Friday 21st of August 2015

The scenery is breathtaking! And those elk...just amazing. I love seeing animals in their natural habitats. The air must have been so clean and crisp!