Jasper is a place of endless adventures and beautiful views. Around every corner you’ll find a new hiking trail, a new mountain, or a beautiful alpine lake just waiting to be explored. Although Jasper is a place for off the beaten path adventures there are so many other activities you can engage in within the Park.
I moved to Banff for 15 months in 2020/2021 and in that time I took 4 trips to Jasper National Park. I made it my mission to see and do as much as possible in the Park and I think I did a pretty good job. Throughout my 4 visits to Jasper I embarked on a backcountry canoe trip, explored hiking trails, and got up close and personal with glaciers. Now, I’ve compiled a list of all the best things to do in Jasper just for you ♡
More: here’s my trip planner to help you create the perfect Jasper itinerary.
Now, let’s go on an adventure!
- Explore Jasper’s alpine lakes
- Go hiking
- Rent kayaks
- Go on the Maligne Lake boat cruise
- Taste Jasper
- Explore the town of Jasper
- Cliff jumping at Horseshoe Lake
- Go wildlife watching
- Watch Sunset
- Best places to stay in Jasper
This post contains affiliate links; see my full disclosure. If you click these links and make a purchase you’re supporting The Holistic Backpacker. Thanks for your support & happy adventuring! – Taylor ♡
- Everything you need to know about planning a trip to Jasper
- Complete guide to the Icefields Parkway (Banff to Jasper)
- Jasper’s off-the-beaten path adventures
- More hiking trails in Jasper
- Explore Jasper’s southern neighbour: Banff National Park
1. Explore Jasper’s Alpine Lakes
Jasper is famous for it’s glaciers and alpine lakes – all 1, 762 of them to be exact. Undoubtedly, exploring Jasper’s alpine lakes is one of the best things to do in Jasper.
Some notable lakes in Jasper are Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake, Edith Lake, and Horseshoe Lake. At each of these lakes you’ll find crystal clear, blue water surrounded by tall mountain peaks and lush green forest. Even though the water looks warm and tropical, I can assure you it’s not! These lakes are all glacial fed which makes them freezing cold.
The only exception to this is Pyramid Lake. Pyramid Lake is not strictly fed by glaciers which makes it the warmest lake in Jasper and perfect for swimming.
2. Go Hiking
Of course hiking makes the list of best things to do in Jasper. From beginners to experienced hikers, Jasper has some world-class trails everyone can enjoy. Here you can see all my trail guides for hiking in Jasper, but the following 3 hikes by far have the most dramatic views:
Edith Cavell is only a quick 15 minute walk from the parking lot. Here you’ll find the infamous Angel Glacier and mint coloured Cavell Pond
The Sulphur Skyline Trail has the most striking mountaintop views of any place I’ve seen in Jasper National Park, plus you only have to hike 4km to the summit!
Maligne Canyon is the most popular hike in Jasper. However most people don’t know you can hike the frozen canyon floor in the winter
3. Rent Kayaks
If you’re looking to get out on the water, both Maligne Lake and Pyramid Lake have options to rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats. This is the perfect way to spend summer day in the mountains and get to know Jasper’s beautiful lakes and mountains a little bit better.
4. Go On A Boat Cruise
If you’ve researched things to do in Jasper, you’ve undoubtedly come across Maligne Lake and Spirit Island. Maligne Lake is the most visited Lake in Jasper National park due to its serene beauty and magical vibes.
Spirit Island is an iconic tiny island located on Maligne Lake and is the most photographed location in Canada. Want to see Spirit Island? Then you’ll have to embark on a 1 hour lake cruise! The only way to get to Spirit Island is via boat, so either pick up your paddles or hop onto one of Pursuit’s cruise ships.
For my ultimate adventurers out there, consider embarking on a multi-day backcountry canoe trip. I spent 3 days paddling Maligne Lake back in summer 2021 which has been my favourite adventure to date. Maligne Lake is home to some of the bluest alpine water in the Canadian Rockies and has the most beautiful campsite I’ve ever seen.
5. Taste Of Jasper
I’m not normally one to get excited about food when I travel, I’m more for outdoor adventures. However indulging in some Jasper pizza or fresh Bear’s Paw baked goods are a must. Here are the best places to eat in Jasper:
- Bear’s Paw Bakery – Bear’s Paw Bakery is a local’s favourite. Expect huge lineups no matter when you go, but get there early to ensure you have selection to choose from. They have so many great baked goods, sandwiches, fresh breads… You name it! My all-time favourite are their raspberry scones. If you visit Bear’s Paw Bakery you must try them
- If Bear’s Paw runs out of treats, try their sister store, Other Paw Bakery Cafe, located on Connaught Drive.
- Jasper Pizza – Jasper Pizza has some seriously tasty pizza and (literally) the best sangria I’ve ever had
- Scoops and Loops – I’ve been on the hunt for the best ice cream in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Scoops & Loops in Jasper takes second place right behind Big Scoop in Waterton Lakes National Park. Scoops and Loops gives you huge scoops of rich ice cream and has lots of fun cone options
- Jasper Brew Co – Jasper Brew Co has some great pub food and local craft beers
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6. Explore The Town Of Jasper
Jasper is a charming little mountain town with tons of shops and restaurants. The Main Street, Connaught Drive, which runs through the entire town of Jasper is a great place to start. There are tons of outdoor shops if you need clothes or gear for hiking and plenty of places to pickup souvenirs.
On rainy or cold days, exploring town is one of the best things to do in Jasper.
A word on souvenirs – oftentimes purchasing souvenirs can be quite wasteful. When purchasing souvenirs try to be thoughtful with what you buy and make sure it is a functional purchase; something you will use rather than toss in a drawer and forget about.
7. Cliff Jumping At Horseshoe Lake
Horseshoe Lake is a local’s favourite spot to hangout during the summer. Here thrill seekers thrive with the chance to cliff jump into some of Jasper’s freezing cold glacial water.
8. Go Wildlife Watching
Looking for a chill activity you can do in Jasper? Try spotting wildlife! Jasper is known for its abundant wildlife – you can see wildlife year-round, however you easily have the best chance of seeing wildlife in the shoulder seasons (spring & fall).
On day 1 of my solo road trip to Vancouver Island I stopped in Jasper and saw my first moose ever! Maligne Lake road is an excellent place to spot wildlife because it’s tucked back and not as many people travel this road as the Icefields Parkway.
Most commonly you’ll find moose, deer, elk, and sometimes even bears! Although bears and moose are much more elusive in the summer months.
9. Watch Sunset
Watching sunset and sunrise are two of my favourite activities – there’s something so special when you’re watching the sun rise or disappear behind the horizon.
The best place I’ve found for watching sunset in Jasper is at the Maligne Lookout Point, located right before the main parking lot for Maligne Canyon. Here you’ll be overlooking a massive, mountain-free valley so there’s nothing restricting your view of the fleeting sun.
Best Places To Stay In Jasper National Park
The best place to stay in Jasper depends on your price range. So, here are a few suggestions for every budget:
- Discover all accommodations in Jasper here
- Cheap(er) hotels in Jasper – Jasper Gates Resort, Overlander Mountain Lodge
- Mid-range hotels in Jasper: Tonquin Inn, Whistler’s Inn, Lobstick Lodge, Astoria Hotel, Sawridge Inn
- Luxury hotels in Jasper: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Pyramid Lake Resort, Mount Robson Inn
- Cheapest accommodation options: camp at Wapiti or Whistler’s campground (camping info). Alternatively stay at one of Jasper’s hostels (find them here)
- Best cabins in Jasper: Miette Mountain cabins, Tekarra Lodge, Patricia Lake Bungalows, Jasper East Cabins
Planning a trip to Jasper? Don’t forget to check out my trip planner! I’ll help you create the perfect Jasper itinerary.
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About The Author
Hey! I’m Taylor – the voice behind The Holistic Backpacker.
After moving to Banff National Park in 2020 I became an outdoor adventure enthusiast and vowed to never stop exploring.
I’m now focused on travelling the world and seeing everything our beautiful home has to offer.
I created The Holistic Backpacker so I could share my adventures and help connect people like you with the same amazing experiences.
I am also an advocate for the environment and do as much as I can to take care of our planet.
Get to know me and my story more here 🙂
I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!