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Jasper

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Jasper is a town of about 5,200 people (2016) in Jasper National Park in the Alberta Rockies region. It is a small tourist town that serves as a base for exploring the park, and for outdoor sports such as skiing, hiking, climbing, canyoning, rafting, canoeing, golfing and fat biking.

Understand

History

Jasper House was a North West Company fur trade outpost established in 1813 on the York Factory Express trade route to what was then called "New Caledonia" (now British Columbia), and Fort Vancouver in Columbia District on the lower Columbia River. It was later taken oven by the Hudson's Bay Company.

Jasper National Park was established in 1907. The railway siding at the location of the future townsite was established by Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1911 and called named Fitzhugh after a Grand Trunk vice president (along the Grand Trunk's "alphabet" line). The Canadian Northern Railway began service to Fitzhugh in 1912. The townsite was surveyed in 1913 by H. Matheson. It was renamed Jasper after the former fur trade post. An internment camp was set up at Dominion Park in Jasper from February 1916 to August 1916.

By 1931, Jasper was accessible by road from Edmonton, and in 1940 the scenic Icefields Parkway opened, connecting Lake Louise and Jasper.

Climate

Summers in Jasper are pleasant, with daily highs usually around 70 °F (21.1 °C) and lows around 45 °F (7.2 °C). Winters are cold, though may be considered mild by Canadian standards, with daily highs around 28 °F (-2.2 °C) and lows around 11 °F (-11.7 °C), with some nights dipping below zero.

Tourist information

  • Tourism Jasper, ☏ +1 780-852-6236. (updated Oct 2020)

Get in

On the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, Jasper is the shy cousin to bold, brassy Banff and offers a more serene experience. Approximately four hours north of Banff and four hours west of Edmonton, capital of the province of Alberta. Most people enter the park via Edmonton.

By car

Highway 16, the Yellowhead Highway, connects Jasper to Edmonton (via Hinton and Edson), which has an international airport and is served by many major airlines. It also connects to Kamloops, B.C. and Prince George, B.C. to the West. Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway, connects south through the Rockies to Lake Louise and onto Banff. Drivers will have to pay for a park admission pass as the town of Jasper is in Jasper National Park.

By bus

  • Brewster Express, toll-free: +1-866-606-6700. From May to mid-October, operates a bus daily between downtown Calgary and Jasper including stops at Calgary International Airport, in Canmore, in Banff, and in Lake Louise. Travel time to Jasper from downtown Calgary is 8.5 hours, from Calgary International Airport is 7.5 hours, from Canmore is 6.25 hours, from Banff is 4.75 hours, and from Lake Louise is 3.5 hours. (updated May 2022)
  • Thompson Valley Charters, ☏ +1 877-769-3287. In partnership with Ebus, operates twice per week service between Kamloops and Edmonton with stops in Barriere, Little Fort, Clearwater, Avola, Blue River, Valemount, Mt. Robson, Jasper, Hinton, and Edson. Travel time to Jasper from Kamloops is 5.25 hours, from Clearwater is 3.5 hours, from Valemount is 1 hour, from Edson is 2 hours, and from Edmonton is 4.5 hours. (updated Mar 2022)
  • SunDog Tours, ☏ +1-780-852-4056, toll-free: +1-888-786-3641, info@sundogtours.com. (updated Sep 2021) Operates the following routes to Jasper:
    • Daily between Edmonton International Airport and Jasper including stops in downtown Edmonton, Hinton, and Edson. Travel time to Japser from Edson is 1.75 hours, from downtown Edmonton is 4 hours, and from Edmonton International Airport is 4.75 hours.
    • During the winter between Banff and Jasper including a stop in Lake Louise. Travel time to Jasper from Banff is 4.25 hours and from Lake Louise is 3 hours. Same day connecting service between Calgary and Banff is available from Brewster Express.

By train

Trains serving Jasper stop at 1 Jasper station (XDH IATA).

The following passenger train operator stops in Jasper:

  • VIA Rail (Stops at Jasper station), toll-free: +1-888-842-7245. Operates two routes that stop in Jasper. This rail operator also offers services that enable travelers to reach Canada's east coast. (updated Mar 2022)
    • The Canadian has trips up to three trips per week between Toronto and Vancouver with stops in both directions in medium to large cities and tourist destinations such as Sudbury, Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Jasper, and Kamloops. This route can offer a scenic view of the Canadian Rockies, depending on the train schedule, as the train operates day and night. Travel time to Jasper from Toronto is 3 days, from Sudbury is 2.75 days, from Winnipeg is 1 day 10 hours, from Saskatoon is 19.75 hours, from Edmonton is 6.5 hours, from Kamloops is 10 hours, and from Vancouver is 19 hours.
    • The route between Jasper and Prince Rupert with stops in McBride, Prince George, Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, Houston, Smithers, New Hazelton, Kitwanga, and Terrace. The train travels during the daytime, taking two days in each direction. There is an overnight stop in Prince George, where passengers will need to book sleeping accommodations. Travel time to Prince George from Prince Rupert is 12.5 hours, from Terrace is 10 hours, from Smithers is 6 hours, from Burns Lake is 4 hours, and from Vanderhoof is 2 hours. Travel time to Jasper from Prince George is 7.75 hours.

By plane

  •  Jasper By Air, 530 8 Ave, SW, Calgary, ☏ +1 403-470-8000, toll-free: +1 888-276-6660, jasperbyair@gmail.com. A Calgary-based company offering daily scheduled flights from Calgary to Jasper-Hinton airport (1.25 hours). Schedules and pricing information is available on the website. $210. (updated May 2022)

Park entry fees

All visitors stopping in Jasper Park (even just in the town) require a park permit. If you are driving through non-stop, the pass is not required. Day passes and annual passes are available, see Jasper National Park#Fees and permits for details.

Get around

There is no public transit. A few taxis and rental cars are available, and bikes can be rented in the summer.

Hitchhikers report that getting a lift in Jasper is very easy.

The town of Jasper is small enough that most places are easily accessed by foot. The surrounding national park will require a car, or taking a tour. Tour companies offer bus service to most of the major tourist destinations including Maligne Lake, The Columbia Icefields and Miette Hot Springs. The two major companies in town are Brewster and SunDog. Both these companies offer similar tours at the same price. The only difference is the size of the tour group: Brewster uses large buses (seating approx. 50) and SunDog has smaller vehicles (seating approx. 12).

See

  • Many attractions in Jasper National Park are a short drive away.
  • Jasper Information Centre, 500 Connaught Drive, ☏ +1 780-852-6176. 

Do

  • 1 Marmot Basin, 1 Marmot Road, ☏ +1 780-852-3816. Cross-country and downhill skiing. 20 minutes from  Jasper, Marmot Basin offers 3,000 vertical feet (914 m) of skiing and snowboarding on 1,720 acres of varied terrain. Large, snow-filled bowls attract powder skiers and snowboarders. 
  • Rent a bike. Plenty of sport shops offer bikes, which are a great way to see the area.
  • Jasper Tramway, Whistler's Road, ☏ +1 780-852-3093. Cable-car to great views of the area from Whistlers Mountain. The hike from the upper station to the summit is not too difficult with only a few steep sections, however do not forget this is high mountain area and you can be in cold clouds very quickly, even in the summer. Should not really venture too far from the board walk if you are in T-shirt and flip-flops, although some idiots do. 
  • Jasper Pride. Jasper's LGBT Pride festival is held in late April, so you can do some spring skiing in between parties and other events. (updated Oct 2020)

Buy

  • Connaught Dr.. Full of souvenir shops, clothing stores, and jewellery stores. 
  • Patricia St.. A few more practical shops. 

Eat

Most of the hotels in or near Jasper have restaurants that will meet or beat your expectations for dining in a small community. Some are higher-toned than others, but across the board food is generally very good and portions tend to be hearty. In addition to the hotel restaurants, the town has several noteworthy dining spots as well as numerous restaurants catering to the hungry but penny-pinching skiers and other visiting outdoors-folk.

  • 1 Becker's Gourmet Restaurant, ☏ +1 780 852-3535. French and Canadian cuisine. 
  • 2 Dead Dog Bar & Grill, 404 Connaught St, ☏ +1 780-852-3351. $7 burger & fries, happy hour on Fridays, 
  • 3 Earls, 600 Patricia St, ☏ +1 780-852-2393. Western Canadian cuisine. A restaurant and bar in one, this can get fairly packed out. The staff aren't fantastic, but the food more than makes up for the wait to be seated. 
  • Jasper Brewing Company, 624 Connaught Dr, ☏ +1 780 852-4111. Unique in Jasper, beer is brewed on-site. 
  • 5 Kimchi House, 407 Patricia St, ☏ +1 780 852-5022. Korean cuisine. 
  • 6 North Face Pizza, 618 Connaught Dr, ☏ +1 780-852-5830. Excellent pizza, great after a day at Marmot Basin! 
  • 7 Sayuri's Japanese Restaurant, 410 Connaught Dr, ☏ +1 780-852-2282. Japanese cuisine, sushi. 
  • 8 Something Else, 621 Patricia St, ☏ +1 780-852-3850. A Greek restaurant that serves up a variety of cuisine, and pizza. 

Drink

  • 1 Hearthstone Lounge and Champs Sports Lounge (Sawridge Inn), 82 Connaught Drive, ☏ +1 780-852-5111. Hearthstone Lounge (10:30AM to 10PM) offers appetizers, soups and a wide selection of light meals. Cocktails, wines by the glass, fine draught beer. Unique furnishings, large flat screen TVs, stone fireplace. Champs Sports Lounge (4:30PM to midnight) offers food and drink, Wednesday night karaoke, UFC fight nights on large flat screen TVs, NHL games and playoffs. $9-20 (lunch, dinner). 
  • 2 Villa Caruso, 640 Connaught Drive (Corner Hazel Ave), ☏ +1 780 852-3920. Steakhouse & bar. 

Sleep

Budget

In the summer, there is excellent camping in the campgrounds operated by Parks Canada. Throughout the year, it is possible to stay in private home accommodation - rooms or suites in residents' homes. Prices vary, but standards are high - full details of what is available can be found in the tourist office in town, or at the Stay in Jasper website. Hostelling International runs a series of hostels throughout Jasper National Park. Jasper International is the closest to town (7 km south-west from Jasper on Whistlers Road, and is open all year), and four Wilderness Hostels which cater more towards trekkers and those people who "enjoy getting in touch with nature."

  • 1 HI-Jasper, 1 Skytram Road (turn west off highway 93 just south of the townsite), ☏ +1 778 328-2220, toll-free: +1-866-762-4122. Check-in: 1-11PM, check-out: 11AM. Open all year. This large 78-bed hostel was the original ski lodge in Jasper and has a good communal feel that is sorely lacking in many big-city hostels. It is the closest budget accommodation to the Jasper townsite and a great base for hikers. In winter, staff transform the surrounding property into a snowboarding terrain park. The large deck makes a great place for a BBQ in summer and there's an outside bonfire year-round. The hostel has a full kitchen, laundry facilities, tv room, comfortable common room, running water, showers, electricity, and very friendly staff. The dorms are big: 48 beds in the co-ed dorm and 30 beds in the female dorm can make for loud night. Bring earplugs. $40/person for HI members, $44/person for non-members, 4 private rooms are available too. Bookings recommended in summer months. 
  • 2 Pine Bungalows, 2 Cottonwood Creek Road, ☏ +1 780-852-3491. Cabins in the woods. Elk are known to roam the site. Picnic tables and camp-fire facilities next to accommodation. Near the river so do not forget your mosquito spray. 
  • 3 Whistlers Campground (3 km south of Jasper town off the 93.). 
  • 4 Wapiti Campground, Highway 93 (3 km south of Jasper). Campground for tents or caravans with water stations, flush toilets and hot showers. (updated Aug 2017)
  • 5 Wabasso Campground, Highway 93A (17 km south of Jasper). Simple campground for tents or caravans with water stations, flush toilets but no shower. Reservation possible as well as "First arrived first served". $21 for a tent site. (updated Aug 2017)

Mid-range

There are numerous motels and inns within the town, as well as in Hinton, just outside the eastern entrance to the park.

  • 6 The Crimson, 200 Connaught Dr, ☏ +1 587 802 3577, toll-free: +1 888 704 9425. Motel with wi-fi; rooms are spacious, although rather dark, with clean bathrooms. Hot tub, conference facilities, lounge and restaurant. Includes buffet breakfast with fruit, cereals, bagels, muffins, croissants, many types of bread, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, sautéed potatoes, French toast and pancakes. $200. 
  • 7 Austrian Haven B&B, 812 Patricia St, ☏ +1 780 852-4259. Owned by a friendly and welcoming Austrian lady. Two rooms, big comfortable beds, excellent views of the mountains around Jasper
  • 8 Château Jasper, 96 Geikie St, toll-free: +1-888-852-7737. Hotel, restaurant and conference facilities. $140-462. 
  • Jasper Inn Alpine Resort (Best Western), 98 Geikie Street, ☏ +1 780 852-4461, fax: +1 780-852-5916. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Cozy fireside accommodation and casual fine dining. $93-413. 
  • 10 Lobstick Lodge, 94 Geikie Street, ☏ +1 780-852-4431. Restaurant, five hot tubs, indoor pool. Fall has the cheapest rates (<$100 is common), while summer is high season (June - August). 
  • 11 Maligne Lodge, 912 Connaught Ave, ☏ +1 780 852-3143, fax: +1 780-852-4789. $86-473. 
  • 12 Marmot Lodge, 86 Connaught Drive, ☏ +1 780 852-4471. Heated indoor pool, sauna and whirlpool. Kitchen suites. $70-260. 
  • 13 Mount Robson Inn, 902 Connaught Drive, ☏ +1 780 852-3327. Two storey motel style inn, 80 rooms and suites, air conditioning, cable TV. $94-325. 
  • 14 Patricia Lake Bungalows, Pyramid Lake Road, ☏ +1 780 852-3560, toll-free: +1-888-499-6848, fax: +1 780-852-4060. Rooms, suites and cabins at lakeside at end of private road. Grill and camp-fire facilities as well as small children's playground and canoe hire for the lake. Great location out of town. $100-355. 
  • 15 Sawridge Inn, 76 Connaught Drive, ☏ +1 780 852-5111, toll-free: +1-888-729-7343. 153 rooms, most with private balcony and mountain view. Conference Centre, Hearthstone Lounge, Champs Sports Lounge, Mountain Wellness Spa, indoor pool, hot tubs, jacuzzi, sauna, fitness centre and business centre. $115-360. 
  • 16 Tonquin Inn, 100 Juniper Street, ☏ +1 780-852-4987. Good quality motel-style rooms. Very good restaurant on site. 
  • Columbine House, 1118 Patricia Street, ☏ +1-780-852-5477, loghouse@telusplanet.net. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. $125-160. (updated Jan 2019)

Splurge

  • 17 Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Old Lodge Rd (turn south off highway 16 just east of the townsite, and make a quick right after crossing the river), ☏ +1 780 852-3301, toll-free: +1-800-257-7544, fax: +1 780 852-5107, jasperparklodge@fairmont.com. The best-known hotel in Jasper, this grand old hotel is one of the most famous and storied mountain resorts in Canada. Started as a tenting site in conjunction with the Grand Trunk Railway in 1915, it has grown into a destination resort. $400 and up. 

Stay safe

Bears looking for food are a potential problem. The city has installed bear-proof garbage cans and business use bear-proof dumpsters.

It is a good solution until the bears learn how to read!




Go next

  • VIA Rail runs routes through Jasper, which you can often include as a free stop-over if heading between Vancouver and Edmonton.
  • It is also popular to travel down to Columbia Icefield, Banff National Park, Lake Louise and Banff along the very scenic Icefields Parkway, making stops at Athabasca Falls, Peyto Lake, Crowfoot Glacier, and Bow Lake.
  • Mount Robson Provincial Park. The park's namesake peak is the highest in the Canadian Rockies at 3954 metres. Mount Robson Provincial Park is 217,200 hectares of stunning mountains, valleys, and waterways. Forests of spruce, fir, balsam, cedar and alder are home to an abundant array of wildlife including mountain goats, moose, deer, elk, marmot and squirrels and chipmunks. The Rearguard Falls of the Fraser River is the furthest migration point of the Pacific salmon.




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