June 22, 2021

Jasper, Alberta: Lakes, Mountains, and Beauty

by Greg Turlock

Remember the first time you went to Jasper? Perhaps it was with your family when you were a kid, in the old woody station wagon. Maybe it was with some friends on a white-water rafting adventure. Or maybe it was with that someone special for an anniversary or birthday. Even though we change and get on in years, Jasper remains as beautiful and elegant as ever.

Do you like to hike in the mountains? Ride bikes? Observe wildlife? Canoe on a crystal-clear lake? Jasper National Park and the town of Jasper offer something for everyone.

Early last September, my wife and I spent a fun-filled long weekend in Jasper. We stayed in a log cabin near the Athabasca River and filled our days with adventure and sight-seeing. Jasper National Park is located in Treaty 6 and Treaty 8 territory, as well as in the traditional lands of the Métis, Stoney, Ojibway, Secwepemc, Beaver, and Cree. Indigenous history dates back many centuries. Surveyor David Thompson was one of the first Europeans to arrive in the Athabasca Valley in 1810.

Can I offer a few recommendations of things to see and do while in the park area?

  • Pocahontas Coal Mine Interpretive Trail and History. From Hinton heading west on Highway 16, drive thirty-eight kilometres to the Pocahontas Campground turn-off. Turn south on Miette Road and make a quick right turn to the start of the interpretive trail.
  • Maligne Canyon, Medicine Lake, and Maligne Lake Boat Tours. As you come into Jasper from Hwy 16 east, turn south at the lights. Cross the bridge and proceed left six kilometres to the main parking lot at Maligne Canyon. After enjoying that hike, beautiful Medicine Lake is twenty-one kilometres further up the road. If you drive another twenty-three kilometres, you will come to Maligne Lake. The scenery is spectacular, and the boat tour is excellent, but be sure to book in advance.
  • Pyramid Lake. More adventures await as you come into the town of Jasper and take the Pyramid Lake turn-off. Driving six kilometres up the mountain will take you by Patricia Lake and to beautiful Pyramid Lake. Canoeing, paddle boating, and hiking opportunities are abundant.
  • Horseshoe Lake and Athabasca Falls. If you like more breath-taking beauty, take Highway 93 south twenty-nine kilometres for the hike to Horseshoe Lake. This trail is challenging and not user-friendly in spots. Athabasca Falls is only four kilometres further south, and it is a must-see.
  • Other great attractions: White-water rafting on the Athabasca and Sunwapta rivers, the Whistler Mountain Sky Tram, Mount Edith Cavell hiking and glacier, and the Miette Hot Springs (temporarily closed due to health restrictions).
  • Wildlife: Watch for black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, lynx, coyotes, mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, elk, caribou, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats.
  • Camping, fishing, canoeing, shopping, and restaurants are abundant.

For more information, find the Discover Jasper site online.

Before You Head Out

Of course, COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Check with local authorities on the availability of campsites and attractions. Be sure to bring water, bear spray, a comfortable pair of shoes, and your camera — and pack a picnic lunch! You won’t be disappointed. Have fun and be safe!

Greg Turlock is an author, poet, photographer, and songwriter. His published credits include award-winning poetry, a young adult novel, a photo essay, and a short story. Greg is retiring from a career in materials management and logistics in July 2021 and is looking forward to joining his wife in ARTA membership.