48 Hours Jasper National Park
Canada’s national parks are among the most visited parks ever. We spent 48 hours in Jasper National Park and experienced a lot there – and of course, that’s what I want to share with you:
Where bears feed on berries on the roadside, where rivers are raging and steep canyons await, where gophers frolic along the wayside and look curiously at the hikers, where the woods appear in all sorts of greens, where lakes make you speechless – that’s where we’ll go today.
48 Hours Jasper National Park – the Itinerary
Getting to Hinton
Driving time: Edmonton to Hinton about 3 hours.
Hinton is located at the Northern entrance of Jasper National Park. You’ll find some cheaper hotels to stay at then in Jasper itself.
Since we were travelling in the peak season at the end of July and decided spontaneously to take a weekend trip. So not many hotels were still available. There is an Esso petrol station in Hinton, which has a few rooms for about 60 CAD per night.
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Day 1 in Jasper National Park | Rafting + Canyon
Drive time: Hinton to Jasper about 1 hour.
As soon as one discovers the Rockies in the distance, one actually wants to get up to speed to reach them in no time – the views are simply amazing.
Tip: leave Hinton before 7:30. There will be less cars on the road and you can take beautiful pictures of the road with the Rockies in the background.
We signed up for rafting that day with Maligne Adventures. We wanted action and a lot of adrenaline, so we chose the most difficult rafting trip: the mighty Fraser River with a rating of 3+. The trip was half day including transportation from Jasper.
Thoughts: it was fun, but definitely not as adventurous as we had imagined.
Costs: 109 CAD + tax (as a HI member -20% – more on that in the tips below *)
At noon we grabbed a snack in Jasper at Patricia Street Deli (610 Patricia St) before we continued.
Driving time: Jasper to the upper parking lot at Maligne Canyon about 15 minutes
We parked the car in the second parking lot, and then followed the trail to the very bottom. We went over numerous bridges across the canyon and enjoyed the most wonderful view over the landscape and the Jasper National Park. Then we hiked back to the car to continue.
Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake | Looking for Bears
Driving time: Maligne Canyon parking to Medicine Lake about 20 minutes and to Maligne Lake another 40 minutes.
On the way to the two lakes, we then discovered a black bear! He was super relaxed and wasn’t bothered by us at all. He was just sitting there eating berries.
Both Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake were a great way to end the exciting day in Jasper National Park. Since it was quite late when we arrived, we had the trails on the shore to ourselves.
Where to stay in Jasper
Driving time: Medicine Lake to HI Athabasca Falls Hostel about 1.5 hours.
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Day 2 at Jasper National Park | Waterfalls, Icefield Parkway + Glacier
If you’re here during high season, start early and enjoy the national park without the crowds.
Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls
Driving time: from HI Athabasca Hostel to the Athabasca Falls about 1 minute. From there to the Sunwapta Falls about 20 minutes
Both waterfalls are incredible, but if I had to choose one of them, I would opt for Sunwapta and the beautiful walk there. The further you follow the path, the fewer people and more silence.
The Icefield Parkway connects Jasper and Banff National Parks and is known for its spectacular scenery and views. Allow plenty of time for photo spots and wildlife viewing.
Colombia Icefield Glacier
Driving time: from Sunwapta Falls to Colombia Icefield Discovery Center about 45 minutes.
We really wanted to see one of the glaciers and walk around on the ice masses. That’s why we chose to sign up for the Glacier Adventure. With a special ice vehicle, we went up to the glacier. There we had enough time to wander around the ice, to fill our water bottles with the crystal clear glacier water and take millions of pictures.
We booked a package that included the Glacier as well as the Skywalk to which we went by bus. The viewing platform rises over 280m – and the glass bottom is a challenge on its own.
Cost: about $ 90 if you book online at least 48 hours in advance.
Travel time: from Colombia Icefield Discovery Center to Edmonton about 4.75 hours.
Useful Information & Travel Tips | 48 hours in Jasper National Park
*Become a member of HI Hostelling International – for 35 CAD per year you get worldwide discounts for HI hostels and also for a lot of other activities – such as rafting with Maligne Adventures, which gives you a discount of 20%.
There are plenty of beautiful trails in the Jasper National Park. From easy and short ones to longer and challenging ones, there is something for everyone. At the tourist information in the city of Jasper, they have many useful brochures, like those recommended day hikes.
Avoid the summer months of July and August, it’s high season then. Most accommodations are booked weeks or even months in advance. We were lucky because we booked the last two beds in a hostel near the Athabasca Falls. Not only were the hotels and hostels almost fully booked, but generally there were a lot of visitors. If you want to go hiking and enjoy the quietness for a bit, you should start before 8 am or after 5 pm or visit during low season.
Be sure to book activities such as rafting and the expedition to the Colombia Icefield a few days or even weeks in advance – they do sell out quite easily.
However, if you plan to visit Jasper National Park in summer, take advantage of the long days. It’s light out there until 10pm and you can visit a lot more than in other months.
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