The town of Jasper marks the top of the Icefields Drive that we started many posts back in Banff! It takes about 5 hours to get from Banff to Jasper, and you’ll want to stop every 2 seconds because the views are truly amazing! We spent a couple of days in the Jasper area where the weather wasn’t in our favor. It was so overcast that we missed half the views – never mind though, what we did see was spectacular! If the weather is acting up on your trip, be sure to stop in at a gift shop to have a look at the postcards – they’ll give you an idea of how much you can see when the clouds lift.
We spent 1 day in and around Jasper, catching up on some work and paying bills – it’s important to note that the town of Jasper guards it’s WiFi like it’s gold. If you’re not staying in a hotel, you’ll have to pay for internet everywhere you go. This isn’t a big deal if you’re totally on vacation, but I was working part time, and it got interesting. If you’re camping, there’s a great laundry mat/ coffee shop/ showers/ WiFi – all in 1 spot, talk about perfect (they make you pay for internet by the 1/2 hour increment even if you’ve already made a purchase). Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t really understand why WiFi was by the minute even if you were paying for laundry and coffee already – who knows? Best plan is to not need the internet and have a proper vacation!
Maligne Lake is a popular recreation area near Jasper (if I remember right, it’s about a 2 hour drive up into the mountains). There’s boat tours where you can see some really awesome scenery that’s pretty much accessible only by boat, or you can rent a canoe and be your own motor. I think we really missed out based on the weather, because you could barely see some of the mountains peeking out of the clouds and the color of the lake (that I saw on postcards) just wasn’t the same without some sunshine.
On the way to Maligne Lake, you drive around Medicine Lake which isn’t an actual lake. It’s where the Athabasca River backs up and disappears underground, emptying into many surrounding lakes. They did an experiment with biodegradable dye, traced it’s route, and discovered this is one of the biggest underground systems known in the world! In the fall, it’s surrounded by gorgeous color and it’s very shallow. We were told it’s the best place to see the 1 remaining herd of caribou, (but no luck). All kinds of wildlife flocks to this area in the early morning and late evening, making it a wildlife photographer’s dream.
We spent the worst weather day at Miette Hot Springs, (perfect thing to do when it’s sleeting in October)! Once again, we couldn’t see any of the mountain views when we got there, not like you care when you’re soaking your sore muscles on a dismal day! What I loved about the Miette Hot Springs is that it wasn’t crowded, (perhaps due to the 2 hour drive from Jasper).
We’ve been to the Banff Hot Springs a couple of times – the final time we went the waiting line was 3 hours long – yeah, we left! Not only that, but you’re packed in like sardines in Banff, but in Miette there was all the room you could want. I should note, we were there in the off season, but in Banff there doesn’t seem to be one of those! The best part about Miette was the cold pools. Even though it’s totally frigid, (the coldest was 55ºF I think) it’s really refreshing, and I could soak for much longer with occasional dips in the ice water!
Back in Jasper that evening, we had wood-fired pizza at Famoso – which was really good! The pizza was better than any of the wood-fired pizzas we’ve tried in Calgary, and it was definitely the highlight of our Jasper eating experience!
The town of Jasper makes a great base camp for a truly innumerable amount of recreational activities – the sky’s the limit! We didn’t hike much in this area because of the aforementioned weather, but we had a blast and can’t wait to come back for some hiking!
See you soon for an adventure much further south in Waterton towards the end of our journey!