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Old Fort Point Trial

Jasper Alberta – Wilderness & Small Town Perfection

At the northern end of the stunning Icefields Parkway there’s an almost perfect little town that makes us wanna stop driving any further north.  After an action packed week of non-stop scenic mountain drives, gondolas and miles of hiking one might think we’ve had enough of the Canadian Rockies, then we roll into Jasper, Alberta, Canada.

Glacial blue lakes, aqua green rivers, snowcapped mountains, fir and aspen trees as far as the eye can see, this small Canadian town has got it going on! Not only are we surrounded by endless nature but the icing on the cake is this little town is picture perfect too.  With only two days scheduled in Jasper we tried to cram in as much in as possible and I think we made a good “dent”:

 

Our Adventures

Kayak Pyramid Lake – Originally we wanted to paddle Maligne Lake, however since we’re early in the season that wasn’t an option, so we headed to Pyramid Lake instead.  With our schedule for the day being totally full we decided rent for a quick paddle instead of lugging around our paddle board.  I can’t think of a better way to start a day of exploration than on a beautiful, crystal clear lake surrounded by mountains.  The resort had public WiFi which was a post paddle bouns!

If you have your own SUP make sure you contact the visitor center and/or park services before heading out on the water, some of the lakes may be protected.  SUP is new to the area and the visitor center confirmed for us that Edith Lake and Annette Lake are both cool for SUPs, they weren’t sure about the other area lakes.

Old Fort Point Trial – What a fantastic little hike!  The trail quickly ascends to the top of a large hill, past the resident sheep and summits with great panoramic views of the town, rugged mountaintops, lakes and rivers.  We chose to continue on the 4km loop trail and we were blown away by the diverse eco-system that surrounded us.  At the summit there are very little trees and giant boulders, down the trail we’re covered by a canopy of trees and lush green forest floors.  Nikki spotted a wild orchid on the edge of the trail and from there we must have seen hundreds of wildflowers that were all worth stopping and enjoying.  We were on lookout for a grizzly that crossed the road in front of the road near the trailhead, unfortunately we never saw him again, but we did catch a little wildlife wandering around.  I would highly recommend beginning any Jasper adventure with this short hike.

Maligne Lake – Everyone gushes about this little glacial lake, and although its beauty is undeniable I can’t say it’s more beautiful than the other lakes in the area.  Granted we didn’t get to see the lake in all its beauty due to the looming clouds and intermittent rain, but the not-so-perfect weather “forced” us into the café for a coffee and almond croissant.  Surprisingly the café uses locally roasted coffee and the pastries looked fresh baked…and yes both were yummy!  We sat and watched the new boat captains practice docking the tour boats while we enjoyed our sweets then we walked about a mile of the lakeside trail.  I thought we made the best of our rainy afternoon!

On the road to Maligne Lake keep your eyes peeled for wildlife!  We noticed several clusters of cars pulled off the road in a few different places, with large groups of people with giant camera lenses running frantically to capture the local residents.  As we passed one pull-out Nikki yells “Bears” and sure enough there was a momma and 2 babies hanging by the lake.  We sat at a distance and watched them play for nearly an hour.  We also spotted a pica and a moose in the area.

Maligne Canyon – Six bridges cross the canyon letting you practically drink the mist of the flowing river as it pounds the canyon walls underneath.  We hiked a bit of this trail but we’ve read it only gets better as you continue down.  Dang, it’s a real bummer that we don’t have more time here.

Jasper Sky Tram – By far our favorite gondola type thing we’ve done in Canada.  I love how the car operator welcomes you then says “prepare for your flight”, it’s an entirely different experience from Lake Louise or Banff.  The little red car ascends quickly to the top of the mountain where we were greeted by clouds with ZERO view, bummer.  We decided to walk around the boardwalk and we spotted a little hoary marmot hiding in the rocks, we must of watched that little guy for 20 minutes waiting for him to move but his lazy butt just sat there!  HA.  Some of the clouds cleared so we decided to hike up to the peak.  We were rewarded with clearing clouds and fabulous views of the valley and the town far below.  Due to snow we only made it to the first peak but it looked like you could continue on hiking for miles up the ridge.  This is our kinda gondola: A rapid ascent up the mountain that offers additional hiking opportunities to peak even more mountains.  If the weather is nice I’d pack a healthy lunch and explore for hours.

 

RV Campground

Whistlers – It’s a great National Park campground with a bunch of little “spokes” that make this 781 site campground seem way more private than it really is.  As normal we chose a non-hookup site because it’s less expensive and more scenic.  Our sight had a little tighter than entrance than I’m really comfortable with, but once we squeezed in there was plenty of sunshine and room on the inside of the site.

whistlers campground

If you have a big rig don’t worry, they have hook-up sites to accomodate just about any size rig.  When checking in make sure to request sun if you have solar, most of the sites are covered in a canopy of trees.  Elk are supposed to be wildly abundant here but we didn’t see a single one…but we didn’t exactly go searching for them because they were calving which brings out the hungry grizzly bears, yikes!

 

Sips, Bites & WiFi

Jasper Brewing Company Brew Pub – The brewery was opened in 2005 and is Canada’s first National Park Brewery which we thought was pretty neat.  I’m not gonna try and tell you this is the best beer ever, to be honest during our visit they had 6 brews on tap that were all pretty decent.  In my “unexpert” opinion all the beers were fairly traditional and would likely satisfy the majority of the population, unfortunately they didn’t have any bombers or specialty beers for sale so the only thing we could drink was the standard tap.  We absolutely loved the fish and chips which came highly recommended, and we also ordered the sea scallops based on our server’s recommendation (which I thought was a brave dish to have us order, seared scallops can be extremely finicky).  The scallops were perfect and the house made polenta was a beautiful companion.  We rounded the experience out with a Beer Float for dessert and took advantage of the fast, free WiFi.

Famoso Pizza – Sometimes fast, free WiFi takes precedent over finding the perfect local eatery.  Sadly, the first two local places had notes on the door “WiFi free zone” and “Conversation is recommended” which is totally cool, but as full-time working travelers we needed to get an hour of work done over lunch.  While searching for WiFi we found Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria.  Great pizza, fast and most importantly free WiFi (as opposed to the coffee shop below that charged $4 for 30 minutes).  Come to find out this is a Canadian chain but nonetheless it’s pretty good grub.

 

Our Wishlist for the Next Visit

Mt. Edith Cavell – It’s considered one of the most rugged summits in the area which sounds spectacular, add to that the frozen-in-space Angel Glacier and you’ve got a double whammy hike.

Maligne Canyon Winter Ice Walk – Just search online to see the spectacular ice formations that appear during the winter, it would be so cool to see these up close and personal…no matter how cold it is J

Dark Sky Preserve – The entire area is a designated a Dark Sky Preserve, in fact Jasper is one of the world’s largest.  What does this mean?  Basically they have rules and restrictions about light pollution.  What it provides is beautifully dark night skies.  Remember it doesn’t get very dark during the summer, so this is another reason we’ll need to come back when it’s a little later in the year.

Rentable Bear Spray – We didn’t have time for any major backcountry hikes but we thought it was pretty cool you can rent bear spray.  It’s a real bummer you aren’t allowed to cross the international border with bear spray (even though a lot of people cross over with it and never get hassled), it’s even more of a bummer that to be safe you’d have purchase bear spray multiple times if you’re doing our same #AlaskaBound trip, so that’s why renting seems so great.

 

Road Report

Fuel Prices – Gas and Diesel was all fairly priced in Jasper sitting around 1.10 per liter for unleaded.

Road Conditions – All the roads we traveled in and around Jasper were literally perfect.  Its smooth sailing here and the town is extremely RV friendly.

Dates Visited – May 26 – 29 2015

 

We’re sooo stoked we were able to visit Jasper and we know we’ll be back one day.  We’re calling this our “dip our toes in” visit.  If you’ve been to Jasper, Alberta and have a few recommendations of your own please share in the comments below.  We love hearing from other travelers and locals alike.

 

Disclaimer – Thanks to Tourism Jasper for helping us plan our quick trip through town.

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (32)

  • Debbie

    Hi Jason and Nikki,
    I have a question for ya…. I am planning a two week camping excursion next August and am struggling to decide between Glacier National Park and Canadian Rockies to include where you traveled up through going to Alaska. Have you ever been to Glacier. I have not. Would you choose one over another. The trip to Canada will include having to get a passport for my husband (I have one) and another days drive. Would it be worth it?
    Maybe you haven’t been to Glacier?
    I love your pictures and your blog. I dream of someday fulltime RV’ing at least for 3 years or so…. Trying to get my husband excited about the idea….
    Thanks for any help you may have for me!!!
    Debbie

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  • Cathy Lackey

    The two of you have such a blessed life. I am so addicted to watching your videos and reading your blog. Thru your adventures I get to see a whole new world, a breath taking beautiful one At that.

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  • Tom Goodman

    I hope you took in Liard Hot Springs. It is the best on the route. If you didn’t be sure to stop on the way back down. Good camping at the springs as well as across the street at a private RV Park.
    We ran into one of the families from Discovery’s “Gold Rush” in 2012 when we stopped.

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  • Joni

    Beautiful pix guys! I have been following you for a while and have found you to be very inspirational. I have recently retired and am considering RV life as opposed to a second home, although I am not blessed with a significant other to share my adventures with. My three doggies will be my companions! Jason, you seemed so distraught when your windshield was damaged, I felt your pain! I hope it was an easy fix!! Nicki, love your hairstyle and wish I could pull it off! Stay safe guys!! Joni

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  • Jim

    Picture perfect travel report. Looking forward to the fish & chips at the Jasper Brewing Company Brew Pub. With what you said about not having enough time at this region I might plan an extra day or two when we come up in 16′ ( plan to be in this area June 3 to 5 in 2016). Like the report on the road conditions. Excellent photo shots. ? If I have a Ohio boat license for both my inflatable kayaks (Advanced Elements) do I need to purchase new licenses for Canada or their national parks?

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  • This post took me back to our stay at Whistlers on our way to Alaska in 2013. I’m so sorry you didn’t see any elk. We came back to our campsite one day to find several elk laying around in one of the empty sites in our loop. They stayed around long enough for me to get some photos and then wandered off.

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  • Fred

    Two days? Nice job!

    First: Congratulations on your ninth. I think you’ll mark this as a very special one. They all are, but this one may be extra special.

    Second: Outstanding images…again…and great writing with lots of useful info.

    Third: Could you please explain what a “post paddle bouns” is? Is that Canadian for bonus or is it aboot something entirely different, eh?

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  • Connie zellweger

    Hi. We’ll probably pass you somewhere in the nxt few days. We’re headed south. Staying in Ft St John tonight. On to Jasper town tomorrow. We’re pulling a white Rpod with our blue ford truck. We’ll keep an eye out for you. I’ve followed your blog for a few years now.?

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  • Constance Condit

    Happy anniversary!
    Beautiful country isn’t it? I am USA born, but raised in North B.C. and I think the Canadian Rockies should be a designation vacation, not just Alaska. Well, next time eh?
    Also glad they don’t have any BP oil wells and fracking in Jasper, yet. When I lived in Canada, the roads were lined with thick groves of beautiful trees, to hide the miles of tree clear-cutting on the other side.

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  • Steve

    Happy Anniversary!

    Jasper and the ice fields are wonderful. Great pictures and Blog post.

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  • chris balka

    Last (and first) visited Jasper in 1974 after securing a college apartment to attend the University of Idaho. My travel bud and I hiked the Athabasca Trail – 33 miles in three days, 16 above timberline. We were whooped pups at the end of that hike, especially knees on the downhill slog. But what a spectacular, mind-numbing experience it was. Living in the pacific northwest ever since, I am blessed with so much to see and do that one needs more than a lifetime to do it all. Hearing about your adventures is a little vicarious reminder of how spectacular and wondrous these places are. If you can, treat yourself to several days on a small boat along the southeast Alaska coast. You won’t regret it! Have fun, safe travels.
    -cb.

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  • Corinne

    You did find the Jasper Brewing Company! Good for you. Beer and free fast WiFi…an unbeatable combination. We found last fall that we infinitely preferred Jasper to Banff. 30 years ago it was just the opposite. Have fun.

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  • Jasper looks amazing! Although I was thinking the same thing that someone else said…about the bears. Could be a little scary to run into them on the trail! Great pictures! Check out MobileRVing.com for all sorts of info for people like you who love to RV!

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  • Robert Dawson Sr

    Such wonderful pictures, it’s great to travel along. A very happy anniversary, safe travels and God bless.Bob in Md

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  • Tina

    I’m glad you to see you got to spend a bit of time in Jasper. Yes one of the down falls of driving across Canada in the summer is gas prices are high. Just a note though that was better than usual, it is $1.28 where I live and that is lower than usual. Hope you come back up our way again soon. In the mean time I am going to continue to read and learn from you adventures. Thank you

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  • Lisa Cantrell

    I too, like Tom, visited many years ago-1980 to be exact on a cross country trip with my sister and I agree about Jasper. We’d driven from Breckenridge CO discussing the fact that everyone told us the Canadian Rockies were even better than the American Rockies. We poo-poohed the idea but were blown away by the beauty. Of course, our visit was in August so Lake Louise, specifically the Fairmont, was in its glory with blue skies, sunshine and acres of Arctic poppies of all colors. We then drove to Jasper and WOW! We hiked only a little and then headed back eastward, stopping at a small lake that was as warm as the Caribbean. Jut glorious. We plan to be there next year and this time I will take your list! Thanks guys.

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  • Tom

    I visited the same areas as you folks many, many years ago but it was probably the most beautiful country I have ever seen. I definitely will have to revisit the area as soon as I can.

    Thanks

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  • Sheila Hagadone

    I am SO GLAD I found you guys on the net!!!
    I thoroughly enjoy you, your pictures & your humor!
    And Happy 9th Anniversary !
    p.s….be GLAD you didn’t see that grizzly bear again on your hike….or you might not see year 10 !

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  • Amy

    Thanks for sharing the great photos and report!

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  • Comes to mind every time I hear Jasper,Alberta……..
    You didn’t happen to see these guys? Did ya?

    Up in a meadow in Jasper, Alberta, two men and four ponies on a long lonesome ride.
    To see the high country and learn of her people,
    the ways that they lived there, the ways that they died.
    And one is a teacher and one a beginner just wanting to be there and wanting to know.
    And together they’re trying to us a story that should have been listened to long, long ago.

    How the life in the mountains is living in danger from too many people, too many machines.
    And the time is upon us, today is forever, tomorrow is just one of yesterday’s dreams.
    Cold nights in Canada and icy blue winds, the man and the mountains are brothers again.
    Clear waters are laughing, they sing to the skies. The Rockies are living, they never will die.

    John Denver

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  • Ronnie Ryan

    Oh ! you was talkin about FB… it’s was a westy. Smart move and congrats to you both.

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  • Ronnie Ryan

    where is the pic of your first camper. I enjoy lookin at old pic’s and can’t find it. Enjoy your blog and thanks for sharing your wisdom !

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  • Anita

    Welcome. It’s nice to hear rave reviews about our part of the world – just in case we take it for granted! Summer there are oodles of hikes and more open campgrounds. Plus a really cool drive past Snaring River campground along the ridge east of the townsite. It’s one-way traffic that reverses on the hour because of the narrow road. Fall we often close down Whistlers campground with a canoe trip on the lakes trying to hit them all (Patricia, Pyramid, Annette, Edith, Cavell, Lac Beauvert, Maligne and Talbot). Miette hotsprings is a favorite, open May to October with a good restaurant at the top and Pocohantas town site interpretive trail at the bottom. The road up is prime wildlife spotting too – if you don’t have your camera handy there will be a bear! In winter there is camping at Wapiti (across the highway from Whistlers) with new washrooms that have in floor heating! just moments from the road to Marmot Basin with world class skiing. (If you don’t do downhill – cross country trails are spectacular). Not to mention backcountry hiking/camping, horseback riding, golfing, Jasper Park Lodge, Bear Paw Bakery, Greek food at L&W, waterslide & soak at the activity centre, yoga on the lawn of the info centre, walking tours with the Friends of the Park guides etc. etc. Y’all come back now, you hear?

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  • Sheryn

    Jasper took my breath away. As my husband and I got closer to those magnificent mountains, I couldn’t help but cry!! Beauty beyond imagination or description! I would love to think we might re-visit this someday. We camped at Whistlers also, but it was either the end of September or early October. The elk were rutting and they would call out for partners. They were walking, running, and laying all over the campground. The walk along the river is amazing, but had to be alert for the bears. Enjoy!! This may be the most beautiful place you will ever visit….but then we haven’t had the opportunity to visit Alaska! 🙂

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  • Happy Anniversary you two!
    Love all the stuff you’re sharing… <3

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  • Jim & Warrene

    Congrats on your 9th!! We will have 49 in September. The best is yet to come – especially if you love to camp. You are living our dreams out, so keep it up.

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  • Janet

    Happy anniversary!! 9 years, awesome!

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  • Robert Lighton

    You guys are killin me…stop showing this amazing stuff…I can’t take it.

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  • Kenneth Bowen

    Have just recently found y’all s website and am enjoying it immensely! I have traveled to Alaska and back in a motor home also. It is quite the scenic journey. Just wanted to say that it is legal to carry Bear Spray across the border when crossing into Canada if it meets their requirements. To be legal in Canada, the label must clearly show that it is intended for use on animals; the package volume cannot exceed 500 ml. So don’t let worrying about crossing the border with Bear Spray keep you from purchasing a worthwhile safety necessity. Enjoy your trip!

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  • Kim Oslund

    Last August my wife and I went across the boarder just north of Glacier. The boarder agent asked if we had bear spray. We said yes and he mentioned he could see them thru the window. I read were bear spray is the only defensive spray you can take into Canada, it must have bear spray on the label. Pepper spray that you would use against another human, is not allowed. FYI

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