The town of Jasper is a Canadian gem waiting to be discovered by travelers craving majestic mountains, serene wilderness, and authentic mountain town charm. Tucked within Jasper National Park, this lovely little town stands as a gateway to the unparalleled beauty of the Canadian Rockies and we don’t want you to miss out on any of the action. That is why we have specially crafted this list of the best things to do in Jasper! Together, we’ll explore the attractions of Jasper, delving into its iconic landmarks, showcasing hidden gems, and guiding you through a range of activities that make this destination a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. From glacier-fed lakes and towering peaks to food tours and hot springs, Jasper captures the essence of the Rockies in all their grandeur and offers endless adventure. So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and join us on a journey through the captivating landscapes and friendly hospitality of Jasper!
Go on an Ice Walk Through Maligne Canyon
Adventure seekers in Jasper will find Maligne Canyon offers year-round thrills and beauty. This magnificent natural wonder is a must-see in Jasper as it enchants visitors with its dramatic limestone walls, cascading waterfalls, and lush forest surroundings. Tourists can embark on the network of well-marked trails that wind through the canyon and over bridges while witnessing the mesmerizing power of the Maligne River, which has carved its way through the rugged terrain over thousands of years. The canyon and its trails offer fantastic views of Jasper, the valley, and the surrounding mountains, which means there are some pretty awesome photo opportunities, too. Those visiting in the warmer months will find Maligne Canyon can get quite packed. We recommend visiting early in the morning to avoid crowds or at sunset for an epic golden hour experience. Alternatively, visitors can sign up for a guided hike and tour of Maligne Canyon with SunDog Tours or group a visit to the canyon with other natural attractions with this half-day wildlife and waterfalls adventure tour.
Winter transforms Maligne Canyon into a magical ice-sculpted realm with shimmering frozen waterfalls, offering adventurous travelers a chance to explore the icy canyon floor and marvel at the sculpted ice and rock formations. Joining an ice walk tour of Maligne Canyon is easily one of the best winter activities in Jasper. Tourists can still walk the upper canyon trails on their own in the winter, but we highly recommend bringing good winter hiking shoes as the trail can get very slippery.
Learn About Local History at Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archives
Sometimes, small-town museums are half-assed and boring, but that is not the case with Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archives. This lovely Jasper attraction invites tourists to explore the cultural heritage of Jasper and the Canadian Rockies. Visitors will encounter a diverse range of artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays, offering insights into the area’s indigenous roots, early explorers, and the development of this vibrant mountain community. Tourists may even be surprised to find out some of the celebrity visitors who fell in love with Jasper and came back year after year! With exhibits that showcase everything from the fur trade and secret WWII experiments to the construction of the iconic Yellowhead Highway, the museum becomes a delightful window into the past and will positively reshape the way visitors experience the area. Whether you’re a history buff or a curious traveler, a visit to the Jasper Yellowhead Museum promises an enriching and enjoyable exploration of the stories that have shaped this picturesque mountain town and its ever-friendly community.
Hike Pyramid Lake Loop
There is no better way to experience the magic of Jasper’s mountains and landscapes than with a hike! One of the most popular and easily accessible hikes in the area is Pyramid Lake Loop. Visitors can start this nearly six-kilometer loop trail from Pyramid Lake Lodge, which can be reached by car in 10 minutes or by Jasper’s public bus on its Pyramid Loop route (the bus stop is right beside the lodge). Another option is to hike from town along Trail 15 to the lodge. This is a beautiful and well-marked trail that starts beside Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, follows Lake Pyramid Road, and leads on a gradual incline out of Jasper, offering expansive views of the town and mountain ranges. The Trail 15 hike to Pyramid Lake Lodge takes roughly an hour and passes by Cottonwood Slough and Lake Patricia.
Once you reach Pyramid Lake Lodge, make your way down the road (or on the trail beside the road) until you reach Pyramid Island. This stunning isle boasts breathtaking views of the lake and Pyramid Mountain in the background, along with picnic benches. After a visit to the island, hikers can then walk across the road to link up with Pyramid Lake Loop, which is marked as Trail 2 and 2B on the maps.
Those looking to complete this hike in the winter can opt to rent snowshoes to use on the trails or they can bring their ice skates and skate on either Lake Patricia or Pyramid Lake. Dogs are also allowed on the trails but must be on leash.
Stargaze at the Jasper Planetarium & Dark Sky Preserve
Stargazing is a timeless activity that allows us to peel back the layers of the night sky and connect with the vast cosmic wonders above, and there is no better place to do this than at the Jasper Planetarium and Dark Sky Preserve. What sets this experience apart is not only the opportunity to stargaze in the world’s second-largest dark-sky preserve but also the immersive and interactive presentations offered by enthusiastic astronomy guides.
Three different guided experiences are offered at the planetarium. The first is the planetarium experience, which will take tourists on a 40-minute journey through the stars with a knowledgeable astronomy guide who will decode the night sky and unveil the captivating narratives behind constellations, the Northern Lights, planets, and galaxies. Tourists could also choose to sign up for their 45-minute telescope experience, where they’ll join an experienced guide and use the most powerful telescope in the Rockies to explore constellations and planets, and perhaps, even the Aurora Borealis. The telescope and planetarium experiences can be combined into one two-hour tour, or tourists can sign up for the planetarium’s stargazing lakeside dinner experience at Pyramid Lake Lodge, which offers a three-course meal at Aalto followed by an evening of stargazing with telescopes and an astronomy guide. The stargazing lakeside dinner experience also includes hands-on activities like making an aurora and holding meteorites!
Ride the Jasper SkyTram
This awesome Jasper attraction offers tourists a breathtaking ascent into the heart of the Canadian Rockies and up to Whistlers Peak, promising unparalleled views of Jasper’s stunning landscapes and the town. As visitors embark on the guided 7.5-minute journey to the upper station, they will be treated to panoramic vistas of neighboring peaks, pristine lakes, and expansive forests. At the top, an observation deck, café, and gift shop await, providing a spectacular vantage point to enjoy a cup of coffee and a view. Adventure enthusiasts can explore a network of varying-leveled hiking trails at the top. One can’t-miss hike is the Summit Trail, a 1.2-kilometer out-and-back trail that leads to Whistlers Peak and offers unmatched panoramic views of Jasper National Park. This is the perfect spot to capture the ultimate holiday photo in Jasper National Park!
Hike the Valley of Five Lakes
The Valley of Five Lakes promises hikers a captivating journey through some of the most enchanting landscapes Jasper has to offer. The loop trail is approximately 4.5 kilometers long and weaves its way around five pristine mountain lakes, each distinguished by its unique color palette. With a moderate difficulty level, this hike is accessible to a range of skill levels, making it ideal for both seasoned hikers and those seeking a more leisurely stroll. The loop trail typically takes around one to two hours to complete but the trail can get quite icy in the winter, so make sure to bring good hiking boots and walking poles. We also recommend bringing some snacks and drinks to enjoy while taking a break on the Red Chairs that overlook Third Lake. Trust us, it’s an incredible place to perch up and enjoy a mid-hike picnic!
The Valley of the Five Lakes is located on the Icefields Parkway about a 15-minute drive from Jasper. Alternatively, visitors could hike from Old Fort Point just south of town and follow Trails 9, 9A, and 1 to meet up with the Valley of the Five Lakes Loop. Hiking from Old Fort Point adds an additional 10 kilometers to the loop hike.
Go on a Mountain Bike Adventure With Journey Bike Guides
Are you a rider looking to take advantage of the excellent mountain biking trails in Jasper? Then you need to head over to Journey Bike Guides (or they can come to you)! Journey Bike Guides offers winter fat bikes and regular bike rentals delivered right to your accommodation. You and your crew could also book a private mountain bike tour with owner, wilderness woman, and mountain bike instructor Elissa Cummings. Her and her expert guides will lead you through the rugged trails of the Canadian Rockies, offering personalized insights and ensuring an unforgettable experience. This is a great way to get an introduction to the sport, whether you’re young or young at heart!
Rent Cross Country Skis or Snowshoes at Pure Outdoors
There is something magical about snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the forest, especially when there is a fresh blanket of snow sparkling off of every tree branch and bush. Jasper is a haven for outdoor activities, so it stands to reason the town has groomed winter snowshoeing and skiing trails right on its doorstep. There are several establishments in town where tourists can rent skis, snowshoes, or even a warm jacket and snow pants. We recommend Pure Outdoors as they have a budget-friendly selection of equipment rented in packages or a-la-carte.
Those who have never skied a day in their life should head to the gentle rolling hills and easy-to-navigate flat loops at Marmot Meadows cross-country ski hub and Wabasso Campground. Experienced cross-country skiers can try Pyramid Trail or check out the trails at Whirlpool Cross-Country Ski Hub. Visitors will find a complete list of cross-country skiing trails in Jasper here, along with current trail conditions and difficulty levels. Those looking to snowshoe can find a complete list of trails, conditions, and trail levels here.
Enjoy a Relaxing Soak at Miette Hot Springs
A trip to the Miette Hot Springs offers tourists the promise of relaxation amidst breathtaking mountain scenery. Open seasonally, from mid-May to mid-October, the hot springs offer a warm respite after a day of exploring Jasper’s natural wonders. Not only can visitors bask in the mineral-rich therapeutic waters, with temperatures ranging from 37 to 40 degrees Celsius (around 104 degrees Fahrenheit), but they’ll also get to take in the panoramic views of Fiddle River Valley. Miette Hot Springs provides excellent on-site amenities, including change facilities with lockers, a café, bathing suit and towel rentals, and interpretive displays about the local geology and history.
Take a Downtown Foodie Tour
You might not think of Canada as being particularly well-known for its cuisine (other than poutine, of course), but exploring Canadian cuisine is an essential part of the travel experience! A food tour offers a delightful way to explore culinary traditions that reflect Canada’s multicultural identity. Alberta, in particular, offers a distinctive culinary experience with its game meats like elk, bison, and venison. This guided Downtown Foodie Tour is the perfect way to spend an afternoon as it includes four plates (three main meals and one dessert) and four perfectly paired alcoholic beverages with no more than 12-14 other guests. Not only will you get to sample four dishes at four different restaurants, but you’ll also get a mini tour of the town as your guide will lead you to some of Jasper’s highlights in between restaurant visits. What will you get at each restaurant? Oh, we’ll leave that as a surprise. But we will say that you’ll be licking your plate clean afterward!
Learn About Indigenous Culture with Warrior Women
Warrior Women offers a unique Fireside Chat experience that unveils the empowering stories of Indigenous women and culture, sharing their wisdom, resilience, and cultural heritage against the backdrop of the majestic Canadian Rockies. During this excursion, visitors will gather for an intimate and engaging evening around an outdoor campfire, where Matricia Brown will weave a night of traditional drumming, Indigenous songs, and captivating stories into one unforgettable experience. From tales of survival to the preservation of traditional knowledge, participants will gain insights into local aboriginal nations and engage in conversation about Indigenous culture. Tourists will even walk away able to speak a few words and phrases in Cree! The Fireside Chat tour not only immerses visitors in the cultural fabric of Jasper but also fosters a deep appreciation for the enduring spirit of Indigenous communities, creating an enlightening travel experience under the starlit skies of the Canadian wilderness.
Hit the Slopes at Marmot Basin
Skiers and snowboarders visiting Marmot Basin are in for an exhilarating adventure. With over 1,600 acres of skiable terrain and 91 runs, Marmot Basin offers a diverse range of slopes suitable for all skill levels, from gentle trails for beginners to challenging slopes for seasoned riders. The resort also boasts four terrain parks for those looking to showcase their tricks and skills. Ski and snowboard lessons are available for beginners and riders can opt to bring their own equipment or rent from the on-site shop. After a day of riding, visitors can head to one of the cozy chalets for après-ski relaxation, a hardy warm meal, and maybe even a tipple.
Recommendation: Pure Outdoors rents ski jackets and pants for those who forgot to bring some. Renting your ski and snowboard equipment at Pure Outdoors is also significantly cheaper. The only downside of not renting from Marmot is that you won’t get access to their complimentary overnight rental storage.
Hike Whistlers Trail to Whistlers Peak
Experienced hikers can choose to save their wallets on a ticket for the Jasper SkyTram and instead hike to Whistlers Peak via Whistlers Trail. This out-and-back trail starts at the Jasper SkyTram parking lot and leads into a dense bush where the trail will turn into a challenging switchback path that has little to no flat sections, along with a scramble section. There is also a rock slide section and when hikers reach it, they should find and follow the pink/green ribbons through the section. Do not follow AllTrails maps as it is incorrectly marked! This demanding hike is well worth the effort as trekkers will be rewarded with incredible views on the path and even more breathtaking sceneries from the summit. In total, it should take between three to four hours to hike up to the summit and another two to three hours to climb back down, making a total hike time of roughly seven hours and about 15 kilometers. Hikers could also choose to ride the tram up and hike the trail down or vice versa, but a ticket will be required. Those planning on completing this hike during the Fall or Spring will most likely need spikes and poles due to the amount of ice on the top part of the trail. For those planning a summer hike, good hiking shoes and bug spray are a must!
The Whistlers Trail trailhead can be reached by car within 10 minutes from town or visitors can take the Campgrounds Loop bus from town, get dropped at Whistlers Campgrounds, and walk 2.5 kilometers to the trailhead.
Join in Community Events at the Legion
If you’re a fellow Canadian, you might be thinking “the Legion made it on this list?” but trust us when we say Jasper’s Royal Canadian Legion is well worth a visit! For non-Canadians, The Royal Canadian Legion is Canada’s largest veteran support non-profit and branches can be found in most small towns and big cities across the country. While Legions are known to put on public community events from time to time, Jasper’s Legion is open to the public almost every day of the week, provided there aren’t any specialized events planned. Inside the Legion, visitors will find a vibrant family-friendly watering hole complete with a restaurant serving up Canadian grub and plenty of weekly events. There are also pool tables, video games, and dartboards. Tourists can join in on a trivia night, enjoy live music on a Friday night, or pop in for a brew and round of billiards. This is a fantastic way for visitors to engage with friendly locals and get a taste of what Canadian small-town charm is truly about! Click here for the Legion’s calendar of events.
Drop the Kids at Cubz Play Café
If you’re wondering what to do in Jasper on a rainy day with kids, then make your way down to Cubz Play Café! This tourist attraction in Jasper is a haven for families and little adventurers alike. Opened in 2023, this indoor playground and daycare center offers a large indoor play space focused on open-ended play for children up to eight years old. Little ones can scramble the rock climbing wall, jump in the ball pit, post up in the reading nook with a book, or join the other kids in free play on the jungle gym. However, the best part about this indoor play haven isn’t even all the cool toys and games they offer; it’s that parents can relax! Cubz Play Café offers a café and sitting area where parents can enjoy a cappuccino and a book while the little ones burn off energy in the next room. Alternatively, parents looking for a few personal hours to shop or escape to the spa can drop their little ones off for daycare at the indoor play center. All of the staff are qualified in early learning childcare and have up-to-date first aid and criminal background checks.
Enjoy a Massage or Round of Golf at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge offers an array of activities available for you that are nothing short of delightful. Even if you aren’t planning on staying at this 700-acre luxury resort, you may want to plan a day visit to indulge in some of the hotel’s world-class amenities. The Spa at Jasper Park Lodge offers a myriad of rejuvenating treatments and massages that include access to the spa’s outdoor heated pool, 20-person outdoor hot tub, dry sauna, and eucalyptus steam rooms. You don’t have to sign up for treatment if you wish to use the above-mentioned spa facilities. Instead, you could buy a day pass for the spa, which also includes access to the gym.
Golf enthusiasts should definitely book a round at the Fairmont’s 18-hole alpine course. Not only will you get to experience playing in one of the most beautiful golf courses in Canada surrounded by pine forests and towering mountain peaks, but you’ll also get to challenge yourself against the course’s challenging terrain, dramatic bunkers, and water hazards.
Rent a Motorcycle and Cruise the Mountain Roads
One fun thing to do in Jasper is renting a motorcycle and exploring the breathtaking landscapes of Jasper National Park with the wind in your hair and the purr of the engine beneath you. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a first-timer, the freedom of two wheels allows you to go on a thrilling adventure as you cruise through winding mountain roads surrounded by towering peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and the vibrant hues of alpine meadows. Jasper Motorcycle Tours offers bike rentals for experienced riders and sidecar tours for those who would prefer riding shotgun rather than driving. Of particular interest is the Icefields Parkway Tour, which will take you on a guided tour through a series of Ice-Age-old glaciers that make up the Icefields Parkway. This incredible driving route was rated by National Geographic Magazine as one of the top 10 most spectacular road trip routes.
Enjoy an Afternoon at Maligne Lake
Before Maligne Lake became one of the most photographed places in the Canadian Rockies (and Canada), it was a gem known only to the Indigenous People of Canada. Its milky blue waters and iconic surroundings first became an international sensation when the camera company Kodak sent Peter Gale to the Canadian Rockies to take photographs that would promote the camera brand. Gale returned with many photographs, but most importantly, one of Spirit Island and Maligne Lake. It was so eye-catching and out of this world that it was blown up and hung in New York City’s Grand Central Station. Since then, images of Maligne Lake have been used in countless travel brochures, postcards, and tourism ads.
Today, Maligne Lake invites tourists into a realm of pristine Canadian wilderness and awe-inspiring beauty, rivaling that of Lake Louise in Banff. The highlight of any visit is the iconic Spirit Island, where visitors encounter a scene so captivating it feels almost surreal. However, the island is only accessible by boat and can be submerged underwater or attached to the mainland depending on the time of year. We recommend booking a boat cruise of Maligne Lake (which allows free time on Spirit Island) or grouping a visit to the lake with Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake Day Lodge with this waterfalls and wildlife tour. Other activities include canoe and kayak rentals available at the Maligne Lake Boat House, hiking trails, biking trails, and fishing. Please note that paddling to Spirit Island is quite a task as it is 14 kilometers from the boat house to the island. While it can be done, it does take roughly four hours to paddle out to and an additional four hours back.
Go on a Rafting Adventure on the Athabasca River
Embark on an exhilarating white water rafting adventure with this two-hour rafting tour that promises an unforgettable day filled with thrill. This guided experience will take you down the gentle rapids of the Athabasca River while expert guides lead the way, navigating the waterway route used by the fur traders over 200 years ago and sharing insights into the region’s natural history. The tour includes all necessary safety equipment and is suitable for rafters of all skill levels as the guides do all the paddling. Plus, dogs are welcome! Experienced rafters or those looking for a more adventurous tour that is more hands-on can also sign up for tours on the Sunwapta River with Jasper Rafting Adventures.
Set Out on a Walking Tour of the Town
A walking tour of town is a great way to go sightseeing in Jasper, whether it’s self-guided or part of a tour! Those looking to head out on a guided tour can do so from June to September by signing up for the Jasper Historical Tour with Friends of Jasper. This tour is a great free thing to do in Jasper, but it does require registration in advance. Tourists can register for one of their daily free guided walking tours here. Another option is to embark on a self-guided tour of Jasper, which is very easily done thanks to the folks at Friends of Jasper who created this self-guided tour PDF and map. Within the self-guided tour guide, visitors will find all the information and history on some of the town’s most recognizable landmarks, like the Two Brothers Totem Pole, 6015 Steam Engine, Athabasca Hotel, and the impressive murals that vividly depict the town’s story.
While there aren’t any guided historical tours outside the summer months, visitors could sign up for a guided food tour which includes a guided walk around Jasper’s town highlights, along with four meals and alcoholic beverages at four restaurants.
Book a Wildlife Tour
A guided wildlife tour is an essential addition to any Jasper itinerary and a must for any nature enthusiast eager to witness the incredible Canadian wildlife in their natural habitat. The rugged landscapes of Jasper National Park provide a haven for a variety of species, from majestic elk and bighorn sheep to elusive grizzly bears and eagles. We highly recommend booking this three-hour wildlife-watching tour from Maligne Adventures. You can choose between a morning or an evening tour where an air-conditioned coach bus will pick you up at your accommodation and take you on a three-hour ride through the park to spot wildlife. During the tour, you’ll receive live commentary from a guide on local wildlife and history, and occasionally be let out of the bus to snap some photos.
Go Backcountry Camping
Tourists seeking a truly immersive and off-the-beaten-path adventure in Jasper National Park should consider booking a backcountry camping experience. Backcountry camping offers visitors a chance to wake up to breathtaking vistas, embark on scenic hikes, and truly appreciate the untamed splendor of this remarkable national park. To keep this section short and informative, we will assume that those planning on going backcountry camping are experienced outdoorsmen/women and will research/know what equipment is required.
Jasper National Park has an outstanding backcountry trail system, with several tent sites and cabins available to use throughout the year. There are almost too many to choose from, so instead, we’ll give you the resources to build your perfect overnight backcountry adventure. For trails and trip ideas in and around Jasper, check out Parks Canada backcountry trail guides.
Those looking for a hut or cabin to hike to either in Winter or Summer should check out the Alpine Club of Canada as they have an extensive list of huts in the Rockies. Seeing as Jasper isn’t far from its neighboring province of British Columbia (BC), make sure to check out available huts and cabins in BC with Backcountry Lodges of BC Association.
Book a Climbing or Ice Climbing Excursion with Rockaboo Mountain Adventures
Tourists seeking an adrenaline-fueled adventure in Jasper should undoubtedly consider booking a climbing or ice climbing experience with Rockaboo Mountain Adventures. With a team of certified guides, state-of-the-art equipment, and a commitment to safety, Rockaboo offers an unparalleled opportunity for climbers of all levels to explore the vertical wonders of Jasper National Park. Participants can embark on a thrilling ascent against the backdrop of stunning alpine landscapes, whether scaling rock faces or conquering frozen waterfalls in the winter months. The guided experiences cater to both beginners and seasoned climbers, ensuring a challenging yet rewarding adventure. With the majestic peaks and pristine wilderness as your playground, this climbing experience promises an unforgettable journey for those eager to test their limits and embrace the breathtaking beauty of Jasper from a whole new vantage point.
Go Paddleboarding on Lake Edith or Lake Annette
If you’re looking to spend a relaxing afternoon at one of Jasper’s lakes, then why not head over to Lake Edith or Lake Annette for a day of sun-fueled fun by the water? Both lakes offer plenty of sandy or grassy waterside areas to set up for the day and there are on-site amenities like washrooms, a playground, and picnic tables. While there are plenty of hiking trails to enjoy nearby, you and your crew could also opt to rent stand-up paddleboards and explore the lake at a leisurely pace. Paddleboard rentals are available from Translucid Adventures located right on Lake Edith on a first come, first serve basis. For a particularly breathtaking experience, we recommend renting a paddleboard for sunset! All rentals also come with a 10-minute crash course for those who have never used a SUP before. Translucid Adventures also offers SUP yoga classes and SUP paddle classes and certification courses.
Enjoy A Birdseye View of the Rockies With a Helicopter Tour
Tourists can book and embark on an awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies Scenic Helicopter Tour, promising a bird’s-eye view of the majestic landscapes that define the region. This helicopter excursion provides an unparalleled perspective of the rugged mountains, turquoise lakes, and sprawling glaciers of the Canadian Rockies, and includes a knowledgeable pilot to guide you through the breathtaking scenery. With a variety of packages available, tourists can tailor their experience to meet their preferences, from shorter flights highlighting key landmarks to extended excursions offering a more comprehensive exploration. Regardless of which tour is chosen, tourists will be captivated by the sheer beauty of the Rockies and will create lasting memories of a truly unique and thrilling adventure in one of the world’s most spectacular mountain settings.
There you have it, the best things to do in Jasper, Alberta! From the breathtaking vistas atop Whistlers Peak to the cultural treasures along the Friends of Jasper self-guided tour route, this haven of natural wonders and vibrant heritage invites travelers to immerse themselves in the untamed beauty of its landscapes and the warmth of its welcoming community. For a more comprehensive guide, check out our tailored Jasper winter itinerary and Jasper summer itinerary.