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Things To See In Jasper
Things To See In Jasper National Park
If you were wondering on what things to see Jasper National Park on a budget. let me recommend a few things. We had a visitor from out of the country with us for a bit of a whirlwind sightseeing tour and took in some sights everyone sees and did some that most people miss.
For those visiting a local area that you thought you've seen it all - take a second look and take the time to go out of the way. You may find some interesting things.
There are the big draws like Columbia Ice Fields, The Jasper Tram, The Maligne Lake tour to Spirit Island. The not so advertised spots are what we went for. him through the window and stopped in to chatTake your time and you'll be surprized.
We were sitting having coffee in a local cafe off the main drag. An old timer was sitting by the window with a newspaper and a cup of coffee. An old friend saw him through the window and came in to visit. We couldn't help but over hear as we were sitting in the table next to them.
They talked of getting old and missing friends. Of the changing times and the future. It was a short visit but it was heart felt and you could see the years on these two friends. Shortly the visit ended and the oldtimer folded up his news paper and went back to staring out the window.
Soon he got up and carefully put his coffee cup and napkins in the trash and then proceeded to walk around the busy coffee shop and cleared the tables of garbage and stuff left behind. He folded visitor pamphlets and placed them back it the racks and straightened chairs. When he came round to my table he asked if I was done and took my tray and cleared it for me. He smiled and said "I like this town, and I like to keep it looking nice for you visitors. People are in too much of a hurry these days to think about what they are leaving behind."
When he was done the circuit he never got a thank-you or even a nod from the staff working the tills. It was kind of sad really. He just walked back to his table, folded the little paper bag his donut came in and put it in his pocket. He grabbed his cloth grocery bag and headed out the door. We thanked him very much for his services and he smiled and waved as he left.
It got me thinking about all the things we take for granted and to look at things different for the day.
Photo Credits : All Photos were taken by the author on an inexpensive Samsung WD600 pocket camera
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Things To See In Jasper
Things To Do In Jasper On A Budget - - I'm cheap what can I say
So we walked a lot and drove a lot but we did get to see a lot as well. The biggest problem with Jasper National Park is it is so big. There are three gates with major roads going through in a "Y" shape with Jasper town site at the junction. The East gate is where we came in. South gate where it borders with Banff National Park and West Gate is toward the Mt. Robson Provincial Park. 10,878 km2. That is a lot of space to cover.
We visited the Miette Hot Springs near the east gate the other day as well as sampled some of the shopping to be had in the Jasper town site itself so focus on what we haven't seen. I've been through this park many times and never stopped to see all the little things one misses when traveling through.
Jasper Park Lodge (pool side)
My Best Pick Of Things To Do On A Budget in Jasper
You know when you have a town inside a national park, that town relies on tourism for making money. When the park is not open 100% of the time it is more dependent on tourism when the tourists are there. If you want to see Jasper park but want to do it on a budget you have a few options.Go in the off season - but risk having sites closed or views not as spectacular as during open season.Go in the shoulder season. June for example. The flowers are just starting to come out. Most of the attractions and sites are opening and the crowds are way down.Check on the various website online for coupons and deals. Most are hotel packages though, trying to fill rooms.
Here is a list of activities or sites in no particular order.
- Miette Hot Springs
Don't make the trip to Miette Hot Springs just for a dip in the pool. Take the paved walkway at the end of the parking lot to the ruins of the old Aquacenter and a boardwalk up to the source of the original hot springs. The day we walked the trail there were bighorn sheep all along the meadow grass in the open spots. If you like the sound of a mountain creek you can relax and take in the views and listen to Sulphur Creek babbling in the background.
Take the hike it is free. then relax in the hot pools.
- Sunwapta Falls
This is another of the many boardwalk trails off of the highway. Located 55 kilometers south of Jasper on the Icefields Parkway. This set of falls in located where the Chuba Valley meets the Athabasca Valley and the trail leads out over the gorge on a foot bridge. Care must be taken in the winter when ice forms from the spray of the falls.
Free views no matter what the season.
- Athabasca Falls
This set of falls shows the power of water as it digs out deep potholes. There is a dry gorge where the river carved out then abandoned following a new course. It is a chance to see how the bottom of a river bed looks under falls.
The views of the layer cliffs and greenery clinging to them are breathtaking.
There is a great picnic area as well. It makes for a nice rest stop while touring Jasper National Park.
- Mount Edith Cavell
This side trip off the highway is well worth the effort to see one of the most beautiful hot peaks in the park. The road is narrow and full of switchbacks so longer vehicles or trailers are not allowed on the road. Also if the weather is wet or has been then the meadow trail may be closed - for protection of the meadow, the trail and for your own safety.
- Maligne Canyon
On the Maligne Lake Road you'll find the Maligne Canyon where the river carves a 50-meter gorge through the limestone rock. there are interpretive signs on 4 of the 6 river crossings telling about different aspects of the canyon. There are even guided tours on the river itself in mid winter when everything is frozen over.
It is worth the time to stop and marvel. Views are free.
- Medicine Lake
Medicine Lake is one of the reasons the Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site was declared by the United Nations. It is one of the worlds largest "sinking lakes", filled to over-flowing in the spring dwindling down to a wide mud flats with small lakes inter-connected by a stream by late fall.
This is one view that needs to be experienced many different times of the year.
- Maligne Lake
Maligne Lake is a busy spot during the summer months. This 22 kilometer lake is filled with boat cruises and fishing. It is one of the highlighted canoe trips in the park but caution needs to be taken as the lake is very cold and often windy. There are also hiking trails all around for summer visitors as well as cross-country skiing in the winter.
Avoid the crowds and go during the off season or shoulder seasons.
- Rest Stops and Viewpoints
There are many rest stops along the roads through Jasper National park. A few have trail heads to hike with various lengths of trails. Some are even over-nighters. Check with the Info center in Jasper.
The veiws are always free of course.
There many things to see and do in Jasper townsite itself. The Information Center in the center of town is one of the best I've seen staffed but people that really care to help you. It is here you should start your tour of Jasper on a budget.
- Roadside Attractions
I have seen animals from the road in almost all areas of the park but the section that is most likely to have veiwable wildlife is the Yellowhead Highway section between Jasper and Hinton. The elk and Bighorm Sheep love this side of the park between the lakes and along the river.
Even though the shoulders of the highway are wide it is best if you can pull off as far as possible and be aware of oncoming traffic before you open your doors to get out and take a closer look. Remember also these are wild animals and if you get too close they will either run away, run over you, or attack you. Any one of the above will dampen your day so give the animals the space they require to do what they need to do. Keep them wild and they will live on to please you and everyone else in days to come.
- Jasper Park Lodge
Just after your turn off highway 16 south toward Maligne Lake you cross over a bridge and there is a fork in the road. Left will take you to Maligne Lake and right will take you to Jasper Park Lodge, The jewel of the park. The lodge is one of the Fairmount properties as is Chateau Lake Louise and Chateau Banff. The stone and log structure offers elegance in balance with the rustic mountain countryside. As this is Jasper on a budget - the views are free. Stroll the grounds, sit in the lawn chairs down by the lake. Enjoy the peace and serenity and imagine what the place was like when Marlynn Monroe and other holiwood greats stayed here.
- Special Events
We happened by on Aboriginal Days 2013. We entered in a round dance and saw lots of singing and dancing and artworks. We couldn't make it to the story-telling and the pow wow dance displays later that evening but what we did catch was free. Well worth the stop.
- Columbia Icefields
Take the hike at the bottom of the glacier to the toe. You get to walk over the terminal moraine and follow the interpretive signs and learn about what a glacier is, what it does and why it's receding. You also pass the markers showing where the toe of the glacier was in different years.
A Little Cutie in Her Fancy Dress Showing off at the Aboriginal Days 2013 in Jasper
Wildlife And People - - not just bears
We all enjoy watching the wild animals and just because they are down next to or on the road doesn't make them any less wild. One has to remember that over 50% of the park is rocks and ice that leaves less than half the park for green space.
The problem arises in the animals like the small kind of spaces we people do. We have to learn to share.
It doesn't matter how many signs are posted not to feed the wild life, there are always those that want to do it for what ever reason. When we were in Miette Hot Springs parking lot there were people trying to bribe the mountain sheep off the roadway with salted peanuts. Another instance was down by the Miette Hot Springs Resort. There were people having a picnic and sitting on the steps of the cabins there and the mountain sheep were grazing on the lawns. The man sitting on the steps tossed a bread crust onto the lawn and one of the sheep wanted more after sampling. He came right up to the man and head butted him in the thigh almost knocking him from the stoop.
Keep wild animals wild and give them space and room to do what they were intended to do. Feeding them only draws the into danger, danger for them and for people. You may be lucky once but there may be a time you'll get butted or worse.
“I like this town, and I like to keep it looking nice for you visitors. People are in too much of a hurry these days to think about what they are leaving behind.”
We saw this one old couple out walking with their bulldog and meeting some Bighorn Sheep for the first time. They met nose to nose but that was it. Once the sheep touched noses they went back to grazing and the dog moved on. I missed the nose touch shot but it was cute.