Jasper National Park is the largest of Canada’s Rocky Mountain National Parks. If you are looking to escape the crowds of Banff National Park, just to the south, but are still searching for majestic mountain peaks, turquoise-colored glacier lakes, and more wildlife than you could imagine, then Jasper is a must-stop. At over 2 million acres, Jasper provides endless opportunities to hike, bike, paddle, snowshoe, ski, and skate. No matter the season, Jasper’s scenic landscape will have you dreaming about its beauty long after you’ve left.
Below is a 3-day itinerary to get your adventure planning started. Please reach out with any questions😊
Adult: $10.50 CAD/day
Senior: $9.00 CAD/day
Youth (17 & under): FREE
Family/Group: $21.00 CAD/day
I highly recommend the Discovery Pass for this itinerary, especially if you have more than 2 adults in your vehicle and plan to see other parks while in the area. The Discovery Pass gives you unlimited admission to all Canadian national parks and national historic sites. It is valid for 12 months and will make entering the park easy and fast! Discovery Passes can be purchased here- Discovery Pass.
Family/Group: $145.25 CAD
Adult: $72.25 CAD
Senior: $61.75 CAD
Jasper has 11 campgrounds inside the park. Whistlers, Wapiti, Miette, and Wabasso all take reservations during the summer months. Snaring, Overflow, Wilcox, Honeymoon Lake, Kerkeslin, Jonas, and Icefield do not accept reservations. All amenities, type of camping allowed, and open dates can be found here- Jasper Camping.
Jasper also offers backcountry camping, with a permit. More information on Jasper backcountry camping can be found here- backcountry camping.
If you were not lucky enough to snag a campsite inside the park, check out Jasper Gates. We stayed there for our entire Jasper trip and absolutely loved it!
There are a few hotel options throughout the park. Hotel accommodations can be found here- Jasper Hotels. Options are limited; plan on booking far in advance.
You will find dining options for each specific park area throughout the itinerary below.
Must Know Before You Go:
- Bring lots of layers and rain jackets-even if rain isn’t forecasted. At the end of June, we saw all 4 seasons on the same day!
- Start your days as early as possible. Crowds are significantly better at 8 a.m.
- Jasper is a massive park. Expect a little bit of a drive no matter what part of the park you are traveling to that day.
- Bring swimsuits. Swimming at Lake Annette, Lake Edith, and Pyramid Lake are lovely, weather permitting.
- Jasper is home to lots of wonderful wildlife. We saw more wildlife in Jasper than in Glacier, Banff, and Yoho National Parks combined. Always carry bear spray with you and know how to use it safely, and please review all wildlife safety here- Wildlife Safety.
- And as always, please remember to Leave No Trace.
Cell service is unreliable in most places in the park and unavailable along Icefields Parkway.
3 Day Itinerary
This day will start at the park’s southern end as you slowly work your way back toward the town of Jasper on Icefields Parkway. If you are coming from Banff, you could also make all these stops on the way to Jasper. Except for Tangle Creek Falls, all stops are RV/Trailer friendly. Also, technically, the first two stops are in Banff near the Banff/Jasper border, but I think they are easier to add on while exploring Jasper.
Mistaya Canyon- The Mistaya Canyon trailhead is about 98 miles (158 km) south of the town of Jasper, right off Icefields Parkway. The out-and-back trail is 1.2 miles with 300 ft of elevation gain to a series of stunning waterfalls cascading through a narrow canyon. I recommend crossing the bridge to get more spectacular canyon views, but there is no barrier after the bridge, so you will want to keep little ones close.
Weeping Wall- After Mistaya Canyon, enjoy the incredible views of Icefields Parkway as you drive the 20 miles (33 km) north to the Weeping Wall Viewpoint. The pull-off for this quick stop will be on the left-hand side. Weeping Wall is a series of small waterfalls cascading over a massive granite wall over Icefields Parkway.
Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre- Another 12 miles (20 km) north on Icefields Parkway is the Glacier Discovery Centre. This will definitely be the most crowded part of your Jasper experience. The Discovery Centre has informational exhibits and videos.
The Glacier Skywalk and Athabasca Glacier Tours also start at the Glacier Discovery Centre. The Glacier Skywalk is a 1300 ft glass-bottomed walkway with stunning glacier views, and if you are dreaming of walking on an actual glacier, check out the Athabasca Glacier Tour. Because this area is so popular, I recommend booking any tours ahead of time. Tour options and ticket reservations can be made here- Skywalk and Glacier Tours.
Tangle Creek Falls- After learning all about the gorgeous glaciers of Jasper, head 4.5 miles (7 km) farther up Icefields Parkway. The stunning falls will be on your right-hand side, and a small parking lot will be on your left. If you have an RV or trailer with you, just roll down your windows to get a quick splash of water from the incredible falls😊
Sunwapta Falls- Another 26 miles (42 km) up Icefields Parkway will be the parking area for Sunwapta Falls. The main viewpoints of the massive falls are just a short walk from the parking lot.
If you want to see more MASSIVE falls and escape the crowds, take the trail to Lower Falls. The path is 2 miles roundtrip with 400 ft of elevation gain. Once you hit the first waterfall by the fencing, follow the fencing father down the hill for several more impressive falls (do not skip this part- the rest of the falls are even better than the first!).
There is a restaurant at the Sunwapta Rocky Mountain Lodge. Hours and menus can be found here- The Restaurant at Sunwapta Falls.
Athabasca Falls- Located another 15 miles (24 km) north on Icefields Parkway is Athabasca Falls. There are several viewpoints of the impressive falls just off the main lot. This area tends to be crowded, but the crowds are worth the experience of this stunning waterfall. Walking to both sides of the falls is about 0.6 miles with minimal elevation gain. Because of the path’s proximity to the enormous falls, even on a clear day, it can get very wet and muddy. Proper footwear is recommended even for this short walk😊
Lake Annette- The last stop of the day is Lake Annette, just north of downtown Jasper.
The lovely lake is approximately 24 miles (38 km) from Athabasca Falls.
Lake Annette has picnic tables and grills, making it an excellent spot for dinner.
The stunning lake is also great for swimming or paddleboarding if the weather is nice! If it is too cool for swimming, take the easy, 1.7-mile trail with just over 200 ft of elevation gain for some fantastic lake and mountain views.
*This day may have to be adjusted based on the time of your Spirit Island Boat Tour. If done in this order, start your day early. You will want to leave yourself plenty of time to find a spot at Maligne Lake.
Maligne Canyon Loop- For this loop, park in the lot near the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen. To cross First Bridge, start the trail right outside the restaurant. If you start near the end of the parking lot, you will begin near Second Bridge and miss the best spot on the trail!
From First Bridge to Sixth Bridge and back is 4.5 miles (7.4 km) roundtrip with over 400ft of elevation gain. You can drive to Fifth and Sixth Bridge- they both have their own parking lots, but the hike is definitely worth it if time allows😊
Food options include a small teahouse near the lovely gift shop and the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen. Menus and hours can be found here- Magline Canyon Wilderness Kitchen.
Medicine Lake- On your way to Maligne Lake, the Medicine Lake Lookout is a must-stop. It is approximately 9 miles (15 km) from Maligne Canyon. Fun fact about Medicine Lake- it’s also called “Disappearing Lake”. If you visit in the fall, you will likely only see the muddy bottom when the water drains into sinkholes and caves!
Maligne Lake- Head to the main parking area after the Medicine Lake Lookout. It is about 14 miles (23 km) farther down Maligne Lake Road. Parking tends to be challenging; be prepared to wait for a spot.
Moose Lake Loop- If you are early for your boat tour, consider hiking the Moose Lake Loop; otherwise, save it for after your boat tour. The Moose Lake Loop starts just across the bridge, past the boat dock. The trail is 1.7 miles (2.7 km) roundtrip with over 400 ft of elevation gain and will take you to the beautiful Moose Lake😊
Maligne Lake Cruise to Spirit Island- If you can only do one thing today, this boat tour should be it! Once you are on the boat, it is a 30-minute ride to the island, and then you have about 20 minutes to explore and hike the short 0.5-mile trail before heading the 30 minutes back. A guide on the boat will give you lots of information about the landscape, wildlife, and history of Maligne Lake and Spirit Island.
Boat Tours run daily, from June 24th to October 9th, but hours vary. I highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance. Hours and ticket reservations can be found here- Maligne Lake Cruise.
Lake Edith- If you are still up for one more stop, check out Lake Edith in the evening as you head back toward downtown Jasper. There is an easy 3-mile loop around the stunning lake. And just like Lake Annette, it is a great place to swim or paddle board on a warm day. 😊 You are likely to see wildlife near this lake. If you plan on hiking, be sure to carry bear spray.
Valley of the Five Lakes- We are starting day 3 off with one of my favorite hikes in Jasper National Park. With 5 gorgeous glacier lakes and incredible mountain and forest views, this is a trail you won’t want to miss!
There are several ways to see these lakes, depending on how long you want to hike. The easiest and shortest route is a 3-mile roundtrip with just over 500 ft of elevation gain. For this route, take Trail 9a to 9b, and at the first split on 9b, head left toward First Lake. After checking out First Lake, you will head southeast to continue to Second Lake, Third Lake, Fourth Lake, and finally Fifth Lake before heading back toward the parking lot.
This trail has a lot of ups and downs with uneven terrain, so even though it is only 3 miles, I would still recommend proper footwear!
Path to the Glacier- For the Path to the Glacier Trail, park in the Mount Edith Cavell parking lot. The lot is tiny, and even in the pouring rain, we had to wait sometime for a spot. It is approximately 13 miles (21 km) from the Valley of the Five Lakes trailhead, but the 9 miles (14 km) on Edith Cavell Road will be SLOW. It is narrow with lots of twists and turns.
Once you have secured a spot, take the 1.2-mile (2 km) trail to incredible views of Cavell Pond, Angel Glacier, and Mount Edith Cavell. The path is completely paved up until the viewpoint. If you choose to take the trail down to the lake, it is rougher terrain but worth the extra trek for a closer look at the magnificent landscape.
Before leaving this area, be sure to check out Cavell Lake off the other side of the parking lot.
Pyramid Lake- The last stop in Jasper is Pyramid Lake. Pyramid Lake is approximately 20 miles (33 km) from the Mount Edith Cavell Parking Lot. If the weather is nice, there is an excellent beach for swimming. You can also bring your own or rent a canoe or kayak at the Pyramid Lake Lodge Resort.
After getting out or in the water, head over to the Pyramid Island Trail. The trail is an easy 0.5 miles with no elevation gain. The mountain and lake views from this trail are so dreamy, even in the rain (which is how we experienced it!)😊
The Pyramid Lake Lodge has one restaurant. Hours and menus can be found here- Aalto.
And that’s the end of this Jasper National Park adventure!
Are you looking for another national park in Alberta, Canada? Check out this 4-day Banff Itinerary!
Also, check out our hiking gear and apparel below!
Hope you have a wonderful adventure😊