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Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park has thousands of square kilometres of practically untouched alpine wilderness. With its majestic peaks and abundant wildlife, Jasper is a mecca for wilderness and adventure. From skiing, snowshoeing and skating in the winter to hiking, camping and biking in the warmer months, Jasper National Park is a special place to reconnect with nature. Covering over 11,000 sq km, Jasper National Park is the largest park in the Rocky Mountains. It is also the second largest dark-sky preserve in the world. In the month of October, Jasper celebrates dark sky month with the annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival, a must-see festival for all avid star and nature seekers.

Athabasca Falls

At 23 m (75.5 ft) in height, Athabasca Falls may not be the tallest waterfall in the Canadian Rockies but it is one of the most powerful, due to the sheer volume of water flowing into the gorge from the Athabasca River, fed by the massive Columbia Icefield. There are a number of platforms and walkways where you can safely view and photograph the falls. Located 30 km (19 mi) south of the town of Jasper, it is easily accessed from the Icefields Parkway using Highway 93A. Plenty of free parking and an easy stroll to the falls.

 

Athabasca Glacier

Part of the colossal Columbia Icefield that bestrides the continental divide in Banff and Jasper National Parks, the Athabasca Glacier is the most visited in North America. It is easily visible from the Icefields Parkway, about 100 km (62 mi) south of the town of Jasper. The glacier has receded in the past 125 years but still covers an area of approximately 6 sq km (2.3 sq mi) and at its thickest, measures 300 m (980 ft). Guided tours take visitors right up onto the glacier.

The Columbia Icefield

The Columbia Icefield is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies, covering some 230 sq km (89 sq mi) to a depth of 365 m (1,200 ft) and some 28 km (17 mi) long. Draped over the continental divide on a high alpine plateau along the Alberta-British Columbia border, it receives an average of 7 m (23 ft) of new snowfall annually. Not all of that snow can melt in the short summers so it accumulates, turning to ice which flows outward through the surrounding passes, creating fingers of ice known as glaciers. The Athabasca Glacier is the most well-known.

 

Sunwapta Falls

Located along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Sunwapta Falls consists of upper and lower waterfalls that are fed by the Athabasca Glacier. The upper falls, which are easily accessed from the view point car park, have an impressive dropoff of about 18 m (59 ft). A 1.3 km (.8 mi) hike takes you down through a lodgepole pine forest to the lower falls. Here you'll see three waterfalls spread over the Sunwapta River. Visit in late spring or early summer when the snowmelt is at its peak.

 

Pyramid Lake

Nestled at the base of Pyramid Mountain, which overlooks the town of Jasper in Jasper National Park, Pyramid Lake is one of 20 small lakes left behind by retreating glaciers in what’s known as the Pyramid Bench area. Found at the end of Pyramid Lake Road, just 5 km (3 mi) from Jasper, the lake is a popular spot for fishing and paddling. It empties into the Athabasca River via Pyramid Creek. There are a number of hiking and mountain biking trails that connect the lake to the town and other natural attractions such as Pyramid Island and Patricia Lake.

 

Pyramid Mountain

Pyramid Mountain in Jasper National Park stands at an elevation of 2,763 m (9,064 ft), the highest peak in the vicinity and one of the most photogenic. Aptly named for its shape in 1859 by geologist and naturalist, James Hector, the peak is part of the Victoria Cross Range and is a favourite among scramblers and mountain bikers. The panoramic views overlooking the Athabasca River Valley from Disaster Point lookout make this intermediate-level hike well worthwhile.

 

Maligne Lake

At 22 km long, the majestic Maligne Lake is the second-largest glacier-fed lake in the world. While its azure-blue waters can be cold for swimming, there are plenty of other activities to do in the Maligne Valley including: hiking in the Bald and Opal Hills, biking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and boat tours to Spirit Island. If you are feeling exceptionally adventurous, the 44 km Skyline Trail begins at Maligne Lake and finishes near the town of Jasper. Make sure to bring your camera: it’s one of the most photogenic places in Jasper National Park.

 

Maligne Canyon

Turquoise, glacial waters and startling canyon walls grow ever more impressive along this short trail. Multiple bridges span the narrow gorge, crossing several times for spine-tingling views of the river below. Watch for fuchsia fireweed and mountain bluebirds in a landscape shaped by fire, erosion and mountain-building.

 

Medicine Lake

Approximately 20 km (12 mi) southeast of Jasper town in Jasper National Park, Medicine Lake is part of the Maligne Valley watershed. Approximately 7 km (4.3 mi) long, it is famous for its disappearing water. In summer, it looks like a normal alpine lake but in autumn and winter, the water disappears and becomes not much more than a mudflat. Think of pulling the plug in a bath – the water that pours into the lake from the Maligne River drains out through sinkholes in the bottom, travelling through a cave system and resurfacing 16 km (10 mi) downstream.

 

Johnston Canyon

The trail to the waterfalls of Johnston Canyon has to be the busiest in the Canadian Rockies. Nearly every day throughout the summer, hundreds of hikers follow its canyon-clinging catwalks and cliff-mounting staircases to the gorge’s Lower and Upper Falls. While the canyon and its unique trail are certainly worthy of a visit, you’ll have to do the hike in the evening or very early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

 

Beauty Creek

Take the walk up to Beauty Creek by following a trail that goes along a waterfall filled canyon. This trail is hidden north of the Columbia Icefields. Please note that there are no guard rails on this path. You are welcome to enjoy the views and the waterfalls from a safe distance.

 

Jasper Dark Sky Preserve

Due to its vast size and location, the 11,000 sq km (4,247 mi) Jasper National Park is considered to be the world's largest accessible dark sky preserve. It's also one of best places to stargaze in the Canadian Rockies. Every October the park holds a Dark Sky Festival that includes both free and ticketed events and workshops. You can learn about the constellations, listen to aboriginal songs and stories, and even pick up some tips for photographing the spectacular starlit sky.

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