Jasper National Park

Jasper NP  014We arrived at the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies in the province of Alberta, Jasper National Park. But we had to work for it.

Jasper NP  001Jasper NP  002Jasper NP  004Jasper NP  003It takes over nine hours to drive from Vancouver to Jasper so we split the drive into two days. After a bit of a late start out of Vancouver, we realized it was going to be a very hot day. Island Girl doesn’t like long uninterrupted climbs, and she really didn’t like long uninterrupted climbs in over 90-degree weather. And we’d filled our fresh water tank in anticipation of a week of dry camping, so she was carrying an extra 800 pounds!

We ultimately unhooked the car but Hector had to put Island Girl in first gear and drive 15 miles per hour on some of the steepest climbs. That made our first day a very long day, but we made it past the halfway mark. We rewarded ourselves by camping at Thompson River Provincial Park by a river, a cool oasis after a hot day.

The adjacent town of Valemount had a lovely visitor center with very helpful ladies and some great displays of the local flora and fauna.

So we woke up refreshed the next day for the final leg of our trip. Which turned out to be a lot easier than the first leg. We even took time to walk an interpretive trail to  Rearguard Falls, the upper limit of the 800-mile migration of salmon from the Pacific Ocean. Only a few Chinook, the largest and strongest, make it this far. But they hadn’t arrived yet.

Jasper NP  016Jasper NP  015Mount Robson is the tallest peak in the Rocky Mountain range in Canada.  We stopped at the visitor center and had a look around at the dramatic scenery and had a picnic lunch. This was our last stop this year in fantastic British Columbia.

Jasper NP  007While at the visitor center, we spotted a giant expedition style truck/RV from the Netherlands with lots of maps of their tours of many parts of the world all over it.  Absolutely incredible.  We’ll definitely check out their website.

Jasper NP  019Jasper NP  018The long and tough trip made for one of our happiest arrivals, finally reaching Jasper National Park, one of the world’s largest protected mountain ecosystems, and at 4,200 square miles as large as the state of Connecticut. We made it!

Jasper the Bear

Jasper the Bear

Our campground in the national park, Whistlers Campground, has the distinction of being the largest campground in the Canadian Rockies – probably why we were able to get space. The campground has over 700 sites in four sections and 67 loops.Jasper NP  022Jasper NP  127Jasper NP  020

Our campsite was in the dry camping section, had good spacing and trees and felt very private. We were even able to put up our large picnic shelter.

I was quite impressed by the way this campground separates loops in a way that never feels like you are amongst hundreds of campsites. On several occasions we saw elk cows grazing amongst the trees.

But the constant long lines of RV’s at the entrance were reminders of how massive this campground is.Jasper NP  025

Besides various campgrounds, the little town of Jasper has a beautiful river (the Athabasca) running through it, lodges, adorable cabins and a very active railroad. And a couple of blocks with shops and restaurants, including Tim Hortons, our dependable source of WiFi.Jasper NP  024

Jasper NP  029While stopped at a railroad crossing on one quick jaunt to the grocery store, Hector saw an elk cow with a baby and a young elk male by the side of the road.   The cow crossed the train tracks before the train arrived, leaving the others behind.

Jasper NP  030Then the train stopped, and the little one was able to hop between the train cars over to momma, leaving the young male alone. The train was stopped awhile so Hector took a detour, but he later saw the happily reunited family happily walking around in town.Jasper NP  028

Jasper NP  031We took several sunset and sunrise drives not only to watch the sun set and rise, but also looking for wildlife. But there were pretty thick clouds most of those times, with beautiful evening and morning light but no spectacular explosion of colors.

And there were more beautiful mountains and glaciers to explore.

Jasper NP  059Jasper NP  062On yet another cloudy day, we drove down the Icefields Parkway, the road that connects Jasper and Banff National Parks. The total length of the road is 138 miles and at around its midpoint is the Columbia Icefield, one of the largest masses of glacial ice outside the Arctic Circle.Jasper NP  063

Jasper NP  060Jasper NP  061Jasper NP  032The icefield feeds several large glaciers, including the Athabasca Glacier, visible from the road.   Water flows from this area to the headwaters of three rivers and down to three different oceans: the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic.

It’s a spectacular drive, with views of some of the highest and most spectacular mountains in the Canadian Rockies.  And lots of glaciers. This is a drive worth taking more than once, which we planned to do.

July and August are the peak travel months for visitors here, so we were prepared for some large crowds on the roads and the shorter hikes. But it’s a beautiful time of year, with (generally) good weather, wildflowers and most trails clear of snow.

The national parks in Canada, unlike those in the U.S., allow dogs (on leash) on many of their trails. So we planned a few short hikes, including several with Angel.Jasper NP  033

Jasper NP  041Path of the Glacier Trail was our first hike. This trail goes toward the great north face of Mt. Edith Cavell, the highest mountain in the vicinity of Jasper (11,022 feet). The mountain is named after a World War I British nurse who stayed in Belgium to treat wounded soldiers after Brussels fell to the Germans and was later executed for helping prisoners of war escape.Jasper NP  045

The Angel Glacier

The Angel Glacier

There’s a parking lot at the base of the mountain and two hikes from there. We took Angel on the shorter hike to an overlook of Angel Glacier, with two wing-like extensions. Angel has a glacier! And it’s beautiful.Jasper NP  043Jasper NP  038Jasper NP  039

Another glacier, Cavell Glacier, creates a lovely little pond, Cavell pond, with small fallen icebergs floating in it.   Truly a heavenly place 🙂 The first section of this trail was pretty crowded, and Angel got a lot of attention.Jasper NP  050Jasper NP  048Jasper NP  049

Jasper NP  034Jasper NP  040The longer hike, Cavell Meadows Trail ends at a beautiful meadow full of wildflowers. Unfortunately, that portion of the trail doesn’t allow dogs.

Jasper NP  036Jasper NP  052For good reason as it turns out.  On our way down we met some folks who spotted a grizzly from the top of that trail on the other side of the mountain from the meadow. Very cool.

It was a cool, cloudy day, perfect weather for Angel, with just a few raindrops on the way down.Jasper NP  054

Then another sunrise drive, and another cloudy morning. When we returned to the coach, it began to rain. The raindrops hitting the motorhome lulled us into a deep sleep, a wonderful way to recuperate from sunrise outings.

Jasper NP  057Jasper NP  056Our return to the Icefields Parkway included a hike to the Toe of the Athabasca Glacier, one of the glaciers formed by the runoff of the Columbia Icefield.   One hundred years ago the glacier covered the highway that we drove out on.Jasper NP  065

The glacier has receded one entire mile in the last 125 years. Several locals have mentioned that the retreat of the glacier has been very noticeable during their lifetime.Jasper NP  066

Jasper NP  067Jasper NP  068We hiked on the limestone rock just beneath the glacier. It was breezy and the temperature was significantly cooler in the vicinity of the glacier. And what a magnificient sight!Jasper NP  071

Along the well-traveled trail, Angel became a celebrity once again, with some folks taking photos of her, including some of her with their kids. Adorable!Jasper NP  069

Jasper NP  070Jasper NP  075Jasper NP  074Jasper NP  055The drive along the Icefields Parkway was spectacular.  With one beautiful alpine landscape after another. Jasper NP  073

Back in town, we found a package deal by Maligne Tours that we liked: a roundtrip on the Jasper Sky Tram and a cruise on Maligne Lake – sold!Jasper NP  017

Jasper NP  110Jasper NP  077The Jasper Sky Tram climbs 3,280 feet up The Whistlers Mountain, leading to The Whistlers Trail to the Summit.Jasper NP  103

Jasper NP  095Jasper NP  089Angel had her first ride on a tram, but dogs are required to wear muzzles during the ride, so she wasn’t a happy puppy 🙁

It is the longest and highest guided tramway in Canada, but takes only seven minutes to reach an altitude of 7,472 feet.  Interestingly, that is above tree line at this latitude. In Colorado tree line is at about 12,000 feet.Jasper NP  082Jasper NP  109

At the top of the tram, visitors have access to a 360-degree view of the town of Jasper, with interpretive signs pointing out various features and describing the wildlife of the area.Jasper NP  092

The summit trail climbs another 495 feet in a short hike. We’d expected it to be cool at this altitude but it was warm and getting warmer.   And it was hazy, possibly due to fires north of us.Jasper NP  087Jasper NP  094

Jasper NP  085Jasper NP  086Angel was getting lots of attention again. This time from the very international crowd on the mountain. A star is born! There will be photos of Angel circulating in Mexico, Japan, China and other countries.

After reaching the summit, taking in more 360-degree views, and resting a bit we headed down.

We saw golden-mantled ground squirrels, pikas, and birds. There was a white-tailed ptarmigan with two babies! But, alas, no marmots, which are what The Whistlers Mountain is named after.Jasper NP  080

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Jasper NP  093Angel was hot and tired so we took our time with lots of water stops. She was a trooper.Jasper NP  106

Jasper NP  026The night before the full moon, we drove out to see the moonrise as we usually do. It was very cloudy, and, because of the high mountains, the moon was taking her time rising. As the sun went down and it got cloudier, we headed back to our campground.

On our way back, we caught a glimpse of her as she peeked between some clouds. A beautiful and mysterious night.Jasper NP  027

Our next post features the beautiful glacial lakes and rivers of the park. Stay tuned.

~ Brenda



16 thoughts on “Jasper National Park

  1. Your photos and narration remind us of our trip years back with the kids to Lake Louise and Banff… LOVELY!!! Godspeed.

  2. Thank you so much for helping with our planning!! Great timing:) We arrive in Jasper Sept. 7th for a week, then move to Banff for ten days. They say Sept is nice because the kids are back to school. Sure hope so!

    It is always nice to have someone visit prior. We always get good ideas besides those we have read about.

    I sure hope we have some decent weather. You definitely need some sun to really see the beauty.

    Keep the posts coming!! I’m sure Angel will be quite spoiled after her celebrity statis:)

    • Yes, September should be less crowded. We just left Banff, will post on that hopefully by the end of the week. We’re in Waterton Lakes National Park, three wildlife sightings our first evening! But it’s raining. Weather has been quite variable. Angel is definitely spoiled.

        • We left Waterton today. Did you cross the border at Chief Mountain? That’s where we crossed. We’re in Glacier National Park now. I’m way behind on reading other blogs. I can’t believe we just missed each other! Will send you some tips via e-mail, though.

    • Yes, just gorgeous, be sure to check out the upcoming post on glacial lakes and rivers. It just gets better and better. Angel is having fun, but a little limpy so we alternate days in and days out.

  3. Stunning landscape, beautiful photography and Angel must have been in heaven with all the attention. It sounds like you two are having a fabulous time. For those of us planning to head to Canada soon (as in next year), I can’t thank you enough for all the detail you provide and fun tips for activities.

    • You said it – fabulous. You’re quite welcome – more tips to come. And of course, if you’d like more details just send me a private message and I’m happy to share more.

  4. This is what we missed on our way down from Alaska. I can feel and sense your happiness. That area is really stunning.We will be there for sure and thanks to great photos and stories I would feel confident going back to CN.

    • OMG, Mona Liza, you two hiking nuts would love it here. We just left Banff and are now in Waterton. Much more to come.

  5. Glad you got to see those beautiful mountains! Brings back memories of taking our kids there 25+ years ago. Did both of those hikes at Mt. Edith Cavell. One of the best drives in the world.

    • Us too. Beautiful area. We’ve just left to Banff, I first heard about Banff about 36 years ago and finally made it. These places are timeless.

  6. As always, love your post! Especially the blue flower, shots of you guys, and the beautiful Angel girl. No wonder she’s such an attraction! What a beautiful, peaceful soul she is. Thanks you two, as always. Love, love, love the adventure!!!

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