Jasper AB's Accommodations, Tours, Dining and Weather
It was the proposal to build a second transcontinental railway in Canada that led to the founding of Jasper, Canada's seventh national park. With the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885, boom times had come to Banff and Yoho National Parks. However, the Athabasca and Miette valleys were still the domain of trappers, outfitters, mountaineers and a few settlers. Recognizing the opportunity to once again capitalize economically on the scenery of the Canadian Rockies, the Canadian Government agreed to assist in the development of the railway (called the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway) and established Jasper Forest Park in 1907. The town of Jasper originated in 1911 as a railway settlement named Fitzhugh after the vice president of the GTPR. In 1914, the town's name was changed to match that of the surrounding park and in 1930 Jasper became an official National Park.
Jasper National Park is the largest of Canada's Rocky Mountain Parks and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jasper spans 10,878 square kilometres (4200 square miles) of broad valleys, rugged mountains, glaciers, forests, alpine meadows and wild rivers along the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies in western Alberta. There are more than 1200 kilometres (660 miles) of hiking trails (both overnight and day trips), and a number of spectacular mountain drives. Approximately 1.3 million people enter the park each year. Jasper accomodations.
Touring Jasper AlbertaJasper joins Banff National Park to the south via the Icefields Parkway. This parkway offers unparalleled beauty as you travel alongside a chain of massive icefields straddling the Continental Divide. The Columbia Icefield borders the parkway in the southern end of the park and is one of the Canadian Rockies biggest attractions. The drive between Lake Louise and Jasper takes approximately 3 hours if you don't step out of the vehicle to take in the many spectacular sights along the way.
Jasper townsite occupies an open setting with an expansive view on the west bank of the Athabasca River, just downstream from its confluence with the Miette River. Jasper is a thriving community of 4,500 full time residents but has noticeably less bustle and more of a small-town feel than Banff. Most businesses and services are located on Connaught Drive and Patricia Street including the park administration building, a popular tour relaxation spot for visitors during the summer months.
Like all mountain park towns in Alberta, summer is the busiest and most expensive time of year in Jasper. During the summer, most people come to Jasper for a quiet and relaxing vacation to soak in the beautiful surroundings and explore the numerous hiking trails and lakes that the park has to offer. There are more than 800 lakes and ponds in Jasper National Park, most of which were created by melting blocks of glacial ice at the end of the Wisconsin Glaciation. Lac Beauvert and Edith Lake, two of Jasper's more recognizable lakes, were created in this manner. Pyramid Lake, a short drive from town, is the only lake in Jasper National Park that permits motorized boats and also features an excellent network of trails. Jasper is also blessed with one of Canada's great golf courses at Jasper Park Lodge, arguably Stanley Thompson's finest work in a long list of exceptional courses that includes Banff Springs. As the only golf course in the area, Jasper is not a golfing destination but rather possesses a great golf course in a great location. If relaxing in steaming hot mineral water is your preference, Miette Hot Springs 120 km north of Jasper townsite offer the hottest hot springs in the Canadian Rockies.
One of the main attractions in Jasper National Park is the drive to and from Jasper and Lake Louise. The Icefields Parkway crests two passes; Sunwapta Pass at 2035 metres and Bow Summit at 2069 metres. These passes take visitors to the very edge of the treeless, alpine tundra. In the Canadian Rockies there are 69 naturally occurring species of mammals. It is very common to see elk, deer, bighorn sheep, coyote and black bear throughout Jasper National Park during your drive. Another popular tour spot along the way is the largest glacial fed lake in the Canadian Rockies. Maligne Lake is 22 kilometres long and 97 metres deep and features spectacular views from its surrounding trails.
Another popular tour sightseeing activity is riding the Jasper Tramway to near the top of The Whistlers, a 2,464 m dome-shaped mountain offering spectacular views of the Athabasca and Miette Valleys.
Jasper is relatively sleepy in the winter months in comparison to Banff National Park and accommodation is very affordable. One of the main attractions is Marmot Basin Ski Hill, which features spectacular views, long runs and no lineups. Only 20 minutes from the town of Jasper, Marmot Basin provides 84 named trails on over 1,675 acres of terrain supported by world-class facilities. The mountain offers 3,000 vertical feet of skiing and snowboarding on 100% natural, dry, Rocky Mountain powder.
Numerous lodges and hotels are located within town and throughout the outskirts and provide a range of accommodations for any budget or taste. The most lavish lodging is Jasper Park Lodge, another one of the great mountain hotels constructed by the railway in the early 1900's. When the government took over the GTPR, it amalgamated it with Canadian National in 1922 to form Canadian National Railway (CNR). In an effort to compete with and copy the success of CPR's mountain hotels, CNR constructed Jasper Park Lodge, the world's largest log structure at the time. In 1925, the golf course was added and extra capacity needed to be added to meet the growing demand. On July 15, 1952, the lodge burned down and was replaced by the current structure built at a cost of $3 million. Today, Jasper Park Lodge is operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and can accommodate up to 430 guests in its suites and cabins.
Large numbers of elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer and other large animals, as well as their predators make Jasper National Park one of the great protected ecosystems remaining in the Canadian Rockies. This vast wilderness is one of the few remaining places in southern Canada that is home to a full range of carnivores, including grizzly bears, mountain lions, wolves and wolverines. Be sure not to miss out on one of the world's greatest treasures.
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