If you’ve ever imagined yourself amidst a landscape of jagged mountains and vast glaciers, you’ve probably dreamt of visiting the Canadian Rockies. I first visited the Rockies back in May of 2013. I took an overnight bus from Vancouver to Lake Louise/Banff and was quite surprised to see a frozen lake and snow on the ground in spring. The views are stunning regardless, but without seeing the iconic emerald colours of the glacier lakes, I knew that I had to plan a return visit.

This past September I booked a flight to Edmonton and made the ~4 hour road trip to Jasper. Of the two national parks, Banff tends to be busier and more touristy, whereas Jasper tends to be quieter and more laid back.

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Things to know before you go

Lake Maligne doesn’t thaw before June.

The glacier lakes are beautiful anytime of the year, but if you’re set on seeing the beautiful turquoise colour you ought to plan your trip for June to September.

Fuel up on gas and necessities.

Jasper National Park is huge so you’ll definitely want to have a car to get around and explore. There’s only one gas station in the park so don’t leave it until you’re running on empty. There also aren’t many shops inside the park so you’ll want to stock up on anything you may need beforehand. If you’ve forgotten something, there’s a Walmart right off the highway in Hinton, which is about 15 minutes from the gates of Jasper.

Pack a  jacket and hiking shoes.

Alberta gets cold. Remember to pack a jacket for all seasons except summer. The top of the mountain was below freezing in September when I visited. You’ll also want to bring running shoes or hiking shoes – there’s loads to explore by foot.

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What to do in Jasper National Park

Jasper SkyTram

The Jasper SkyTram is a seven minute tram ride up to 2,277 metres elevation. Here is where you will want to pull out that jacket. The temperature at the top station is on average 12 degrees colder than the town of Jasper. The views are so spectacular that you’ll probably end up spending most of your time taking pictures, like I did. You can hike all the way up to the summit of Whistlers Mountain if you’re up for an adventure. The uphill climb was a little steep and the cold was a little harsh, so my out-of-shape self didn’t quite make it all the way to the top. Instead, I opted for a hot chocolate at the Treeline Restaurant which offers a 260 degree panoramic outlook.

A Traveletty Adventure in Jasper National Park, Canadadian Rockies, Canada A Traveletty Adventure in Jasper National Park, Canadadian Rockies, Canada

Maligne Lake Boat Cruise

This one is an absolute must-do in my opinion. The Maligne Lake Boat Cruise is a  90 minute cruise to Spirit Island, and has been declared the “Best Boat Cruise in Canada” by Reader’s Digest. Once you reach the island, you’ll get a chance to get off the boat and photograph the world-famous symbol of the Canadian Rockies. If you plan to do the boat cruise and the skytram, you can book both together for a reduced fee of $85 (CAD) on the Jasper SkyTram website. Otherwise, you can book just the boat cruise online or in person.

A Traveletty Adventure in Jasper National Park, Canadadian Rockies, Canada

Canoe, Kayak or Paddle Boat Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake lies at the foot of Pyramid Mountain. It’s one of the easiest lakes to get to – just ~8 minutes from the town center. In the summer you can rent canoes, kayaks and paddle boats for around $30 (CAD) an hour. After paddle boating Pyramid Lake, I’m convinced that there’s nothing more tranquil or breathtaking than the reflection of the picture perfect mountains. If you’re able to return at night, Pyramid Lake is one of the largest dark sky preserves and is a popular spot to view the milky way.

A Traveletty Adventure in Jasper National Park, Canadadian Rockies, Canada

Horseback Ride Lake Annette

Horses have been used to explore Jasper for some time. We opted to explore the trails surrounding the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge through Jasper Park Stables. The 1 hour beginner trail takes riders along the shores of Lake Annette and costs $42 (CAD). There is also a 2 hour trail that takes riders through Athabasca valley for $72.

Miette Hot Springs

Miette Hot Springs is the hottest hot springs in the Canadian Rockies. The water flows from the mountain into the pool at around 54 degrees Celsius but is cooled to a comfortable 40 degrees Celsius. For $6 (CAD) you can soak in the water and enjoy the natural minerals. If you didn’t bring a bathing suit or towel, you can rent one at the springs for a few dollars. While soaking in the steamy hot mineral water is quite an experience, so is getting to the springs – picture winding mountain roads and plenty of wildlife.

A Traveletty Adventure in Jasper National Park, Canadadian Rockies, Canada

Drive down Icefields Parkway

The road connecting Jasper National Park to Banff National Park is called the Icefields Parkway (or Highway 93). It’s considered one of the world’s best drives and Canada’s most prized national treasure. You can drive the entire 232 km in about 3 hours without any stops, but you’re bound to make plenty of picture pitstops along the way. The Parks Canada website created a map listing every scenic spot, lake and waterfall. Some highlights include Peyto Lake, Columbia Icefields and Athabasca Falls.

A Traveletty Adventure in Jasper National Park, Canadadian Rockies, Canada

Jasper is an unforgettable place with stunning raw beauty that never fails to amaze. Jasper’s perfect combination of natural wonders and small town hospitality make it an ideal city escape. If you’ve got a case of city blues, you definitely need to cross Jasper off your list and I couldn’t recommend you to do so any more.

This is a guest post by Deanne Wong.

A Traveletty Adventure in Jasper National Park, Canadadian Rockies, Canada Deanne is a Toronto-based travel enthusiast, balancing a 9 to 5 work life with a quest to explore as many off-the-beaten paths as possible. Keep up with her adventures on Flight Network or Hello City Girl.