Jasper NP is Ranked Canada’s #1 National Park by U.S. News and World Report:
Jasper National Park is by far the best place to experience the Rocky Mountains. The largest national park in the Canadian Rockies offers endless opportunities to hike, bike, boat and more. Jasper also holds the unique distinction of being the world's second largest dark sky preserve, with excellent conditions for stargazing. To soak up the best of Jasper, drive down the famous Icefields Parkway, considered to be one of the most scenic drives in the world (U.S. News)
There is wildlife teaming throughout Jasper NP -- bears, wolves, caribou, elk, moose, mountains goats, bighorn sheep and much more.
It’s not enough to keep your eyes on just the road when cycling Canada.😟
Alberta’s Lynn Sugden wisely chooses oncoming traffic over the alternative.
The cycling and scenery of this park are absolutely extraordinary and we highly recommend a cycling-hiking-sightseeing trip of four or five days to this glorious natural wonderland.
Much of this page was created with the help of PJAMM’s good friend and contributor Lynn Sugden, Sherwood Park, AB, CAN.
FACTS OF INTEREST:
- At 10,878 square kilometers (4,200 square miles; 10,087,800 hectares/2,688,000 acres), this is Canada’s largest national park.
- Established in 1907, this is the sixth oldest of Canada’s 46 national parks (Banff is the oldest in Canada and the world, established 1885).
- This national park is one of seven that form Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are comprised of Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho National Parks, and Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber provincial parks.
- UNESCO’s Statement of Significance for Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks is:
“Together, they exemplify the outstanding physical features of the Rocky Mountain Biogeographical Province. Classic illustrations of glacial geological processes — including icefields, remnant valley glaciers, canyons and exceptional examples of erosion and deposition — are found throughout the area. The Burgess Shale Cambrian and nearby Precambrian sites contain important information about the earth’s evolution.”
- The town of Jasper (population 4,590, 2016) is the hub for Jasper National Park. Jasper was established in 1813 as a fur trading outpost by North West Company (later Hudson Bay Company).
- Jasper was named after “Jasper” Hawes who operated a trading post for the North West Company in the Jasper area from 1814-1817. The location of the old trading post is a National Historic Site of Canada and located on the Athabasca River 22 miles/36 km north of Jasper.
- This is the second most visited Canadian national park with about 2.45 million visitors per year (Banff is by far the most visited Canadian national park with over 4 million visitors per year).
THE BEST BIKE CLIMBS IN JASPER NATIONAL PARK
LISTED BY PROXIMITY TO JASPER
Climb begins in Jasper.
This is a junior climb, but a climb none the less. The scenery at the lake is outstanding.
20 km/12.5 mi from Jasper.
Athabasca Loop is a must -
Ride 64 kilometers and climb a comfortable 575 meters.
8 km/5 mi from Jasper
Cycling Marmot Basin, Jasper National Park, Alberta, CAN.
This climb begins in the heart of Jasper National Park and offers many of the breathtaking views of majestic steep mountains that we see throughout this extremely scenic and popular national park. While the climb itself is moderately challenging, it is the magnificent views and peaceful surroundings that set this climb apart.
Ride 14 kilometers gaining 770 meters at 5.4% average grade.
The last 1.5 km are on dirt, but easily manageable on a road bike.
8 km/5 mi from Jasper.
Cycling Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, CAN.
Ride 40 kilometers gaining 815 meters at 1.6% average grade.
This glacially formed lake just 40 kilometers from Jasper is famed for its beauty and the azure color of its waters. The lake is an often photographed scenic representation of Jasper National Park.
MOUNT EDITH CAVELL SOUTH and NORTH
South 10 km/6 mi from Jasper; North 17 km/10.6 mi from Jasper.
Cycling Mount Edith Cavell, AB, CAN.
Ride 19 kilometers gaining 696 meters at 3.4% average grade.
Maligne Range of the Canadian Rockies.
This climb is not called Mount Edith Cavell for nothing! For most of this southerly climb, you are heading towards and in site of the mighty Mount Edith Cavell in Alberta’s incomparable Jasper National Park. Mount Edith Cavell is the most prominent peak located entirely within Alberta.
Mount Edith Cavell.
Angel Glacier is visible on north face of the peak.
MIETTE HOT SPRINGS
40 km/25 mi from Jasper.
3.2 km/2 miles from Jasper
At 4 km, this is short climb. Nonetheless, the last 3 km are brutal. It gets it reputation as the last climb of the day after riding out to Athabasca Falls then climbing Mount Edith Cavell and/or Marmot Basin Ski Station.
SUNWAPTA PASS NORTH AND SOUTH
South 153 km/95 mi and North 93 km/58 mi from Jasper.
The pass marks the boundary between Banff and Jasper National Parks. The pass is 5.6 km/3.5 miles up (south) from Columbia Icefield Discovery Center. This is in Jasper NP and it is a true climb. It gets its cycling traffic not from climb seekers but from day rides or cyclotouristes riding from Jasper to the Columbia Ice Fields. The pass marks the boundary between Banff and Jasper National Parks.
HOW TO GET TO JASPER:
- Fly into Edmonton and drive 230 miles (365 kilometers). Four hours on a four lane divided highway.
- Fly into Edmonton, and take the train from the airport. It is a 6.5 hour train ride costing about $68 Canadian dollars ($50 USD). Train reviews are mixed.
- Fly into Edmonton and take the bus, which is a 4.5 hour ride costing about 20% less than the train.
- Fly into Calgary.
- Drive to Lake Louise (113 miles/180 km; 2 hours) on a four lane divided highway.
- Lake Louise to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93). Three hours on a good day and 233 km/145 miles.
- Magnificent scenery along the way.
- Cycling from Lake Louise to Jasper: This is an excellent ride on a bike
- From Vancouver to Jasper: Drive up the Yellowhead (Highway 5/16). 800 km/495 miles and 8 hours.
- Spectacular scenery.
- Train from Vancouver takes 19 hours.
- There are no direct bus routes from Vancouver to Jasper.
WHERE TO STAY WHILE VISITING JASPER NATIONAL PARK:
Jasper is a quaint tourist town with lots of accommodations, cabins, and hotels.
PJAMM’s Alberta resident and Jasper/Jasper NP expert, Lynn Sugden’s first choice is Becker’s Chalets. Lynn’s room rate for June 2020 is $260 per night for one room with a double bed, sitting room, gas fireplace kitchenette, and bathroom with shower.
Lynn’s other recommendations are Tekarra Lodge and the nice, but pricier Pyramid Lake Resort and the all out first class is the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. There is also five-star camping at the Whistlers & Wapiti close to town (closed for construction until 2021), and Pocahontas (140 sites) and Wabasso (231 sites) campgrounds not far away. Reservations are a must June through September.
WHERE TO EAT:
- Absolute tradition is L & W Pizza. It has been in Jasper for 60 years. Good food, good price.
- The Athabasca Hotel is another staple. The bar has its own flavor. The dining room is good.
- There are a number of chain restaurants and one offs. The Jasper Brewing Company does its job well.
- Bear’s Paw Bakery on Pyramid Lake Road just west of Connaught Drive (the main road through town). Coffee and pastry to get you started. It is a busy place in the morning.
- There is a decent wine store on Patrica Street, just south of Pyramid Lake Road. There is another just south on Patrica Street.
THE FLATS (FOR THE MOST PART, ANYWAY):
- LAC BEAUVERT LOOP 9.5 miles counterclockwise from Jasper to Lac Beauvert. The ride through town out to Lake Beauvert and through the Jasper Park Lodge fits with your travel blog, not the climb site. (A little side point, Lac Beauvert means, roughly, beautiful green lake in french. And it is!).
- A hardy ride is from Jasper to the Columbia Ice Fields. It would be too much to go out and back (305 km/190 mi), so someone in the group would have to drive the support vehicle. The climb up to the Ice Fields (called the Sunwapta Pass) is tough. There are no services except a hotel/restaurant at Sunwapta Falls and at the Ice Field Centre.
THINGS TO DO IN JASPER - AFTER YOU DONE CYCLING FOR THE DAY: 🚴👍
- Hiking: Here is a link to the top day hikes in Jasper NP from the Canada National Parks official website: Day Hiking in Jasper National Park.
- Mountain biking: Top mountain bike routes in Jasper NP can be found on the Canada National Parks official website, here: Mountain biking - Jasper National Park (this page has a downloadable guide).
- Sightseeing: Maligne Canyon and Athabasca Falls are MUST see. Other great places to visit and view are Maligne Lake, Pyramid Lake, The Jasper Sky Tram, Sunwapta Falls, and Miette Hotsprings.
- Columbia Icefield.
- Glaciers of the Columbia Icefield are located in the southern part of the park. The Colombia Icefield is the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains (that’s saying something as the Rockies stretch 1,900 miles)
- Athabasca Glacier is one of the five toes of the Columbia Icefield (photo above under Sunwapta Pass. Athabasca Glacier is visible from Highway 93 (Icefields Parkway). 105 kilometers (65 miles) south of Jasper.
- Stargazing: The Park is a recognised Dark Sky Preserve and is said to be one of the best places on Earth for observing the night sky. The Dark Sky Festival is held each year in mid-to-late October, and involves a weekend of parties, concerts, and exhibitions centred around stargazing
- Golf: Jasper Park Lodge has a world class golf course that was designed by Stanley Thompson. It was one of Bing Crosby’s favorites.
The best grocery store is Robinsons AG on the corner of Connaught and Balsam.