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Go West: 5 Ways to Explore Jasper

Have your sense of adventure—and camera—ready

Jasper claims an unfair share of bucket-list material: snow-capped Rocky Mountains, wildlife roaming free, a colourful lake wrapped by a glacial mountain range. With spring comes a chance to enjoy open-water season, mountainside hikes and horseback riding in the Rockies. Here’s what not to miss if you’re planning a trip out West come spring.

A cruise boat on tranquil Maligne Lake

Photography courtesy of Tourism Jasper

Maligne Boat Tour

Operating seasonally from May through October, the Maligne Lake launch is about 50 minutes from Jasper. The tour lasts approximately 90 minutes and knowledgeable guides intersperse facts and figures with stories and jokes about the area and its history. Once out on the open stern, guests can breathe the clean air and Instagram unobstructed views of the glaciers. The boat docks to allow for a short hike, which includes looping by the pint-size Spirit Island, tethered to the shore by a thread of land. Set against an emerald-green lake and mountain range, it’s one of the most photographed spots in Canada.

Hiking in Maligne Canyon

Photography by Parks Canada/Ryan Bray

Maligne Canyon Hike

This hike takes about an hour or two each way. It’s 3.7 kilometres from the Sixth Bridge to what is considered the most interesting canyon in the Canadian Rockies. Along the way, expect lots of bridges, waterfalls, rock slabs to climb on and plenty of fencing to keep hikers safe. In spring, the melting rivers and lakes and budding greenery might make the trip longer as you make countless stops to capture epic photos.

View of Athabasca Falls

Photography by Parks Canada/Ryan Bray

Athabasca Falls

The tumbling Athabasca Falls, perhaps the area’s most dramatic, is easily accessed on the route to the Icefields Parkway. Light trails, hidden in a wooden area, lead you to the site. Nothing really prepares you for the sight of the powerful falls that have cut through granite, exposing its layers and leaving in the middle a canyon of intense blue-green colour. There are different viewing areas, all safely guarded by a wooden railing. You’ll have a hard time corralling the family back to the car.

Horseback riding in a mountain stream

Photography courtesy of Travel Alberta

Riding in the Rockies

Amateurs and avid equestrians alike jump at the chance to horseback ride in the Rockies. Jasper Pyramid Lake Stables and Jasper Park Lodge can get you saddled up for this unique Rocky Mountain climb. Both stables offer one-, two- or three-hour rides that take you through creeks and woodland, and to viewpoints of rivers and falls. The aroma of fresh, slightly dewy wooded areas is as good as any spa. Riders must be 18 or accompanied by an adult.

The night sky over Jasper National Park

Photography by Jeff Bartlett


Jasper National Park’s size and location make it prime stargazing territory, and it’s been designated one of the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserves. There are several stargazing spots throughout the park, and in late spring and early summer the best viewing happens around 11 p.m. or midnight. The festival of stars almost every night is unclouded by light pollution and lives up to the park’s moniker of “the Disney World of Dark Sky Preserves.”

Check out the Spring 2017 issue of CAA Magazine as we explore more of Jasper, Alta., and the Rockies.