Spectacular scenery, skiing in winter and hiking, fishing, horse riding, and sailing in summer make the Canadian town of Jasper an excellent choice for holidays and breaks. This beautiful destination in Alberta is the only town completely within the Jasper National Park, and the Rocky Mountains, alpine meadows, roaring waterfalls and clear glacial lakes provide a magnificent backdrop.
Maligne Lake with its amazing multi-coloured waters is an essential stop. Spirit Island at its centre is one of the world’s most photographed beauty spots and you can see it up close by taking a boat tour. Paradise Lake is also a big attraction, and sailing during summer or ice skating in winter are just some of the activities you might enjoy. The Colombia Icefield which feeds eight glaciers including the Athabasca is sensational, and is also well worth taking the time to see.
See the Athabasca Falls or hike on the Skyline trail from Maligne Lake to Jasper. The nearby Miette Hot Springs are a wonderful solution to your aches after a busy day. Take the Skytram to Whistler’s Mountain for breathtaking panoramic views from the 7472 ft (2277 m) summit, or visit Marmot Basin to ski and snowboard during the winter season. Try dog sledding, snowshoeing or ice climbing; you’ll find them all available from December onwards.
Several local tour companies specialise in wildlife spotting excursions, while those who have an interest in history and culture can explore historic landmarks like the Mystery Rock or the Two Brothers Totem Pole or visit some of the town museums and galleries including the Mountain Galleries.
Jasper National Park is one of the world’s biggest Dark Sky Preserves. Visit in October for the annual Dark Sky Festival which attracts astronomy fans from all over the world.
The town is an inspired choice at any time of year. The summer season is from May till August and the winter ski season can last from December till March. However, the transitional months of March and April are perfect if you enjoy wildflower strewn alpine meadows and an abundance of bird and wildlife, while October is the time to catch the Jasper Dark Sky Festival.
Because the town has much to appeal to families, the school holiday periods at Christmas, Easter and summer can be crowded. The busiest months are July and August and peak season fares tend to reflect this. However, once Labour Day has passed in early September, fares begin to drop for the shoulder season of October and November – perfect if you’re an astronomy enthusiast or want to see the mountains in autumn. Christmas and the ski season see a rise in fares as visitors come for the superb snow conditions. However, it’s possible to find cheap flights at any time of year, and there are often good deals for March and April.
There is no public transport in the town, but tour companies offer regular tours to major attractions like the Miette Hot Springs, Maligne Lake or the Colombia Icefields. Most places in town are reached easily by walking, and those who don’t mind hitchhiking will find getting a ride easy. There are a few local taxis and you should agree the fare first, and bicycles can be hired during summer.