Jasper National Park often takes second stage to its more famous neighbour, Banff National Park. However, Jasper National Park is not only larger than Banff, but is in fact larger than Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks combined. The backcountry in Jasper is extensive and wild and it’s much easier to ‘get away from it all’ here than in any of the other Mountain Parks.
History of Jasper National Park
As with Banff and Yoho, the origin of Jasper National Park is closely associated with the arrival of the railway in the late 1800s. Inspired by the successes of the Canadian Pacific Railway in Banff, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway established a route to Jasper in 1902, which was followed by a similar but separate railway in 1913, completed by the Canadian Northern Railway. The two routes were eventually consolidated. In 1921 the Jasper Park Lodge was built to replace the tent accommodation which first housed tourists on the shores of Lac Beauvert. In 1930 the Jasper Forest Park was officially designated as a National Park, and to this day, the CNR railway is still one of the biggest employers in the town of Jasper. Jasper National Park hotels and other tourist related businesses employ most of the rest of the Jasper workforce.
Popular Destinations in Jasper National Park
Some of the more well known regions to visit in Jasper National Park include Maligne Lake, Maligne Canyon, Miette Hot Springs, the Icefields Parkway, the Columbia Icefield, and in winter the Marmot Basin ski resort.
The Icefields Parkway and the Columbia Icefield are found en route between Banff/Lake Louise and Jasper and if you are visiting Banff or Lake Louise it is best to include these tours as part of your journey.
Hiking in Jasper National Park
One of the best ways to really appreciate Jasper National Park and the peaks, valleys, rivers and lakes of the Canadian Rockies, is to go hiking. The trail system throughout the Mountain Parks is extensive, well maintained, well sign posted, and takes you through some of the best mountain scenery anywhere in the world.
For a short walk, we recommend Maligne Canyon or the Lake Annette Loop, and for a half day hike you could consider Valley of the Five Lakes or Wilcox Pass. Cavell Meadows is a very popular day hike at the end of a long and rough approach road, while the Sulphur Skyline offers a very full strenuous day where 700m of elevation gain will be rewarded with amazing views of the dramatic alpine landscape.
To read more about the hiking trails in Jasper National Park, we recommend picking up a copy of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide and the Gem Trek map for Jasper.