National Parks

RVing Jasper National Park

Jasper is the largest park in the Canadian Rockies and crosses the Great Divide. The park contains the Columbia ice fields, many glaciers, waterfalls, mountain peaks, and national historic sites. Most visitors come to spend time exploring the remote wilderness of the park but the town of Jasper itself is a worthwhile destination that attracts many tourists.

Chantal
12 minute read

Jasper National Park is located in Alberta and is a Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO’s World Heritage Site found on the traditional lands of the Beaver, Cree, Ojibway, Secwépemc, Stoney, and Métis First Nations. Jasper is the largest park in the Canadian Rockies and crosses the Great Divide. The park contains the Columbia ice fields, many glaciers, waterfalls, mountain peaks, and national historic sites. Most visitors come to spend time exploring the remote wilderness of the park but the town of Jasper itself is a worthwhile destination that attracts many tourists.

Best Time to Visit Jasper

Spring

The spring comes to the valley as early as April and lasts through June. Spring is the best time to visit the park to view wildlife. Birds are migrating back to the park as the weather warms, wildflowers are blooming, and waterfalls are flowing at full force due to snowmelt. There is still an avalanche risk for many higher elevation hiking trails well into June.

Summer

The summer season lasts from July through August. Summer is the most popular time to visit the park and all park facilities and hiking trails will likely be open. July daytime temperatures average around 22.5°C (72.5°F).

RVing Jasper National Park
Photo Credit: Dennis Flarsen

Fall

The fall lasts from September through October. Fall is a great time to visit the park because there will be fewer crowds, daytime temperatures are ideal for hiking or biking, foliage is changing colour, and the skies are often clear at night for stargazing. Some campsites and facilities begin to close for the winter during these months.

Winter

The winter season lasts from November through March in the park. Snow blankets the mountain peaks and forests in the winter. January is the coldest month of the year and temperatures generally stay below -5°C (23°F). For those who don’t mind the cold, winter in Jasper is full of potential. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking trails are maintained throughout the park.

Jasper National Park in Winter
Photo Credit: Pixabay, Jasmin_Sessler

Jasper National Park Visitor Centers

It’s always a good idea to start any National Parks trip with a stop at a visitor centre where you can speak to park rangers, plan activities, or purchase a daily or annual pass. Pick up gifts, maps, books, brochures, and backcountry permits, or view exhibits on the area’s natural and cultural history. 

Visitor Information Centre – 500 Connaught Dr. Jasper, AB.

The Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre – 103km (64mi) south of Jasper on Highway 93.

Photo Credit: Pixabay, IsarDomains_com

Getting To / Around Jasper National Park

The best way to travel to Jasper is by a personal vehicle as there is no public transport to or within the park.

Calgary

From the Calgary International Airport (YYC), drive 430km (267mi) northwest for 5 hours via Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W and AB-93 N to arrive at the Jasper Visitor Information Centre.

Edmonton

From the Edmonton International Airport (YEG), drive 383km (237mi) east for 4 hours via AB-16 to arrive at the Jasper Visitor Information Centre.

Vancouver

From the Vancouver International Airport, drive 807km (501mi) northeast 8 hours and 30 minutes via BC-5 N to arrive at the Jasper Visitor Information Centre.

RVing Jasper National Park
Photo Credit: Pixabay, dennisflarsen

Things to Do and Main Attractions

Hiking/Backpacking:

Easy Hikes & Walks – Pyramid Lake hike is an easy 2km (1.2mi) stroll around the lakeshore. For the Valley of the Five Lakes hike, choose either the short 5.5km (3.4mi) or long 9.5km (5.9mi) loop and see the incredible array of colours that fill these glacial lakes. On the Maligne Canyon hike, cross all six bridges to experiences all the views of this incredible slot canyon. The path to Athabasca Falls is a short paved trail that leads to this impressive waterfall set to a breathtaking mountain background.

RVing Jasper National Park
Photo Credit: Pixabay, Sonyuser

Day Hikes – Wilcox Pass trail begins at the Icefields Parkway and leads up through the forest before finally opening to views of Athabasca Glacier. The Bald Hills trail follows an old fire road before a steep climb ending in a panoramic view of Malign Lake and the surrounding mountain peaks. 

Multiday Hikes – Jacques Lake trail is an ideal trail for beginner backpackers because it has minimal elevation gain. The trail passes by four mountain lakes and you will make camp beside Jacques Lake. The Skyline Trail is a 2-4 day backpacking trip. The majority of the Skyline Trail stays above the treeline and crosses three mountain passes. Brazeau Lake Loop travels past meadows, pine forests, alpine passes, and glaciers. Take a dip in the cold Brazeau Lake and enjoy the remoteness of Jasper on this 3-5 day hike.

Red Chairs – For an added challenge on your adventures, try to find the Park’s Canada red chairs! The park has placed sets of red Adirondack chairs at various viewpoints throughout the park. Some will be easy to find and others will involve more of a challenge, but the scenic locations will be worth the effort! 

Photo Credit: Pixabay, med-nunn

Biking

Mountain Biking – Enjoy cruising across the park on the many well-connected and well-maintained trails in Jasper. 

Cycling – Cycle the Icefields Parkway, voted one of the top ten scenic routes in the world, or try one of the many other shorter routes in the park.

Mountain and road bike rentals are available from many shops in the Jasper townsite.

Miette Hot Springs

After a long day of hiking or biking, relax in the hot and cold pools fed by mountain springs while you are surrounded by the beauty of the Canadian Rockies. The pools are open daily from late May until early October and are located 61km (38mi) east of the Jasper townsite and 51km (31.7mi) west of Hinton.

Watersports

There are many lakes throughout the park to explore with your kayak, canoe, paddleboard, or boat. Boats with electric motors are only allowed on Maligne, Medicine, Talbot, Pyramid, and Patricia Lakes.

RVing Jasper National Park
Photo Credit: Pixabay, dennisflarsen

Jasper SkyTram

Ride the longest and highest aerial tram in Canada. From its starting point 7km (4.4mi) south of Jasper off of Highway 93 at the end of Whistlers Road, this trip will take you 2263m (7424ft) up in elevation. Take in views of Jaspers Valley during your flight and then climb out onto the mountain top at the upper station and spend the day hiking in the alpine.

Photo Credit: FitzHugh.com

Interpretive Programs

Events hosted by park interpreters include Heritage Fire Hall programs, street theatre, guided hikes, interpreter trail rovers, and day-use area pop-ups.

Jasper-Yellowhead Museum & Archives

View culturally and historically significant exhibits and galleries. Learn about early European exploration of the park, the fur trade, and the railway. Located at 400 Bonhomme St, Jasper, AB.

Wildlife

The amazing diversity of wildlife found in the Rockies contributed to the United Nations creation of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. Hikers in the alpine may spot the hoary marmot or hear the piercing call of the pika from the talus slopes. Bighorn sheep and mountain goats may be seen in many regions of the park from grassy slopes to alpine meadows. Beavers, moose, elk, deer, pine marten, red fox, coyote, and black bears all make their homes in the valley bottoms. Less commonly seen predators include the wolf, cougar, lynx, and grizzly bears. 

Mountain goat in Jasper National Park
Photo Credit: Pixabay, dennisflarsen
Wildlife seen while RVing Jasper National Park
Photo Credit: Pixabay, brigachtal

Winter Activities

Get outside in the winter and enjoy the iconic Jasper views, frozen waterfalls, and snow-covered forests. Trade-in your hiking boots for a pair of snowshoes, microspikes, cross-country skis, or a fat bike and experience the snowy trails. Strap on some skates for the quintessential Canadian experience of pond skating on either Pyramid or Mildred Lake. For those who are experienced in winter backcountry travel, there are plenty of opportunities for ski touring, alpine ski touring, and ski mountaineering. Many shops in the Jasper townsite offer all kinds of winter gear rentals. 

Jasper National Park in Winter
Photo Credit: TheresaMuth

Nearby National Historic Sites

Jasper House – A staging post on the Athabasca River used by fur traders. The last remains of the house have gone but a commemorative plaque and viewpoint which overlook Jasper House National Historic Site mark the location as well as interpretive panels detailing the history of the site.

Athabasca Pass – A remote backcountry trail will take you along the route that was used for 50 years of European travel through the Canadian Rockies. Located on the great divide, water from the lake at the top of the pass can flow either west to the Pacific Ocean or east to the Arctic.

Photo Credit: Pixabay, mritofficial

Malign Lake Chalet & Guesthouse – These log buildings were once used by the railway, outfitters, and guides during the early days of the park. Informative panels detail the history of the site. The chalet sits over the northwest end of Malign Lake at the day-use area and can be booked for special events.

Where to Stay in Jasper National Park

Lodging

The town of Jasper has a wide variety of guesthouses, chalets, hotels, lodges, cabins, and hostels. Park staff recommends making a reservation in advance.

The Palisades Centre – dorms, privates houses, and cabins are available at this historic ranch only 12km (7.5km) east of Jasper.

oTENTik – These cabin/tent hybrids are perfect for those who want the camping experience without giving up any comfort. All oTENTik’s have heating, beds, and furniture for up to six people and are available for reservation in Whistlers Campground.

Frontcountry Camping

Snaring River Campground – A wide variety of sites such as along the river, open and sunny, shaded by trees, or mountain views. Best for RV’s less than 8m (27ft). Sites are available first-come, first-serve. 

Wapiti Campground – A large campground on the Athabasca River. There are electrical hookups and most sizes of RV’s can be accommodated. Wapiti is open for the summer season and offers limited sites during the winter season. Park staff recommends making a reservation in advance.

Whistlers Campground – The largest and most iconic campground in Jasper. There is a playground, full amenities, park programs in the evening, and a walking/biking trail through the campground. Most RV sizes can be accommodated. Park staff recommends making a reservation in advance.

Wabasso Campground – A quiet, forested campground located along the Athabasca River. Ideal for RV’s under 10.7m (35ft). Park staff recommends making a reservation in advance.

Pocahontas Campground – A quiet and secluded campground located near many hiking trailheads and only minutes from Miette Hot Springs. Best for RV’s less than 8m (27ft). Park staff recommends making a reservation in advance.

Wilcox Creek Campground – A campground with incredible mountain views. Located near many hiking trails and just down the road from the Columbia Icefields. Best for RV’s less than 8m (27ft). Sites are available first-come, first-serve. 

More Camping

Honeymoon Lake Campground – Located on a picturesque lake with mountain views near Sunwapta Falls. Enjoy water activities such as canoeing or kayaking. Best for RV’s less than 8m (27ft). Sites are available first-come, first-serve. 

Kerkeslin Campground – A quiet shaded campground on a sandy bank of the Athabasca River. Nearby hiking trails lead into the Fryatt Valley. Best for RV’s less than 8m (27ft). Sites are available first-come, first-serve.

Jonas Creek Campground – This small creekside campground is located just off the highway. Best for RV’s less than 7.6m (25ft). Sites are available first-come, first-serve.

Icefields Centre RV Campground – A campground for trailers and RV’s only in the Icefields Parkway adjacent to the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre. Best for RV’s less than 7.6m (25ft). Sites are available first-come, first-serve. 

Icefield Campground – A basic, tents-only campground in the middle of the Columbia Icefields Parkway. Sites are available first-come, first-serve. 

Overflow Campground – A variety of basic sites either secluded by trees or open and sunny. Most RV lengths can be accommodated. Both reservable and first-come, first-serve sites.

Backcountry Camping

There is over 1000km of wilderness trails to be explored in Jasper. The best way to have a remote national park experience is to venture into the backcountry. Whether for one night or a ten-day trek, there is a route for all levels. 

RVing Jasper National Park
Photo Credit: Dennis Flarsen

Things to Remember While Visiting Jasper

  • Follow “Leave No Trace” principles.
  • Follow the speed limit and drive cautiously through the park to decrease wildlife collisions.
  • Amenities such as restaurants, groceries, wifi, and gas are available in the Jasper townsite.
  • There is limited cell coverage in Jasper National Park. 
  • There is no public wifi available in much of Jasper National Park.
  • Pets are allowed on some trails in the park. Obey signs and keeps them on a leash at all times for their safety and the safety of park wildlife. 
  • Elk calving occurs from May 15 until June 30, at which time mothers may kick and charge at people to protect their newborns.
  • Be familiar with avalanche safety when visiting in the spring or winter.
  • Be prepared for a variety of weather conditions. Raingear and layered clothing are essential.
  • Respect wildlife from a distance: don’t feed or approach them or let them approach you.
  • Human food has a serious impact on wildlife. Don’t feed wildlife, keep camps free of all traces of food, store food in an animal-proof food locker, and place all garbage in an animal-proof trash can. Follow the ‘BARE’ campsite program.

There are so many great National Parks to visit, and just not enough time. If you loved RVing Jasper National Park check these out.

BC & Alberta National Parks You Must Visit

Waterton Lakes National Park

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