It’s much quieter, peaceful, less traveled and matched equally in its natural splendor as its popular neighbor, why wouldn't you visit this place instead? JASPER is as much an entrance gate to the Canadian Parks as its popular counterpart Banff. But with Jasper, you don’t have to deal with the crowds, the tourists, and the commercialism that one would often come across in Banff, especially at peak times.
If you are driving on the world famous Icefield Parkway from Banff towards Jasper, you have already been through amazing vistas along the way that JASPER national park is known to enthrall visitors year-round with. The thunderous Sunwapta and Athabasca falls, mark the edge between the two large park systems. And its defining moment of glory is the up-close and personal experience with Athabasca Glacier and theColumbia icefields.
But this national park has even more to offer…in terms of its rugged, un-touched beauty of Maligne Lake, the sheer cliffs that make up Maligne Canyon…and amongst others, an abundance of very protected and varied wildlife including Elk, Caribou, Big horn Sheep, Mountain goats and other large animals.
The quaint and charming town site of Jasper, was inviting, appealing and refreshing in its own way. The so-called downtown area is very do-able by foot, and allows the traveler to really soak in the small town charm and hospitality that Jasper has to offer. There are numerous eating places that are ideal locations for good food, wonderful ambience, and great company, if you are traveling in a large group.
But if you are looking for a private dinner outside on the porch with the mountains and the setting sun in the background…this is the most likely place, where you will find that easily! The sunsets here are not to be missed! This small town ‘caters’ to all tastes and pallets!
For the serious hiker, Jasper national park offers more than 1200 kms of hiking trails…and if you are not one of those, and are simply looking for an evening stroll…on your very own private lake, try Lake Patricia or Lake Pyramid…close to town. With barely a soul in sight, these lakes are as breath-taking as any other and unite you with nature in the true sense of the word.
The town of Jasper offers a host of lodging facilities from the bare and rustic…all the way to 5 star luxuries. Take your pick, you wouldn’t be disappointed. With spectacular nature surrounding you in such a pristine environment, one could hardly go wrong with any choice. Your length of stay, style of traveling and list of activities that you indulge in, while in Jasper, will help you decide where to select your room and board. The Athabasca Hotel is located very centrally in town and made a perfect choice for our stay. There are lots of fun little stores, only a stone’s throw from the hotel. And for celebrating that special evening, EARL’S restaurant is literally just 10 steps outside the hotel!! Offering a tastefully simple menu, and both indoor and outdoor seating, this casual dining restaurant definitely made our list!
So you see, Jasper is more than just a national park…it offers everything and more to all its visitors. You are bound to enjoy the slower pace of life here, and guaranteed to get in touch with nature more personally.
TIP: Added to the fact, that the Canadian VIA rail operates through the town of Jasper…making this a practical and obvious choice en-route your Canadian journey. With my next article-'The Real Romance in the Rockies', I hope to convince you that not traveling by train in this part of the world is missing out on one of life’s best travel experiences hands down. It is absolutely a MUST!!!