Jasper National Park is located about three hours north of Banff, in Alberta, Canada. On our Canadian Rockies trip in August 2023, we spent about three full days in the Jasper area. I highly recommend spending at least three days here, as there is so much to see and do!

If you are traveling to Jasper in the summer, make sure to book lodging plenty in advance. There aren’t a lot of lodging options here and they book up quickly. We booked our stay for August in January. We chose the Pine Bungalows Resort, which ended up being the perfect place for us. It isn’t anything fancy but is located right on the beautiful river and is only a few minutes’ drive into the town of Jasper.

Similar to Banff, the town is located inside the national park and has several shops and restaurants to enjoy. Since we were staying in a hotel and didn’t have a kitchen to cook in, we ended up eating out for most meals. We arrived at our hotel after a long day driving the Icefields Parkway and unloaded our cars before heading to dinner in town. After dinner, we stopped at a grocery store to pick up breakfast food for the next few days.

Day 1

Pyramid Lake 

On our first full day in Jasper, we started our day at Pyramid Lake, a 10-minute drive outside of town. When we arrived around 9am, it was still cold out and fairly windy. We decided to do a short hike from the parking area by the lodge to Pyramid Island. There is a hiking trail that runs parallel to the road following the lakeshore. After about 0.8 miles, we reached Pyramid Island. There is a picturesque bridge crossing from the mainland to the island and a trail that follows the perimeter of the small island. We enjoyed this spot!

Kayak Pyramid Lake 

After arriving back at our car, we visited the kayak and canoe rental shop by the lodge. I was really excited to try canoeing, but since it was so windy, the guides recommended kayaking instead. We were hopeful we’d be less likely to tip over in the kayaks, so the four of us headed out in two double kayaks.

We paid for an hour’s rental for the kayaks, so we planned on just paddling to the other side of the lake and back. The wind made the water a little rough and more difficult to paddle. When we got about halfway across the lake, we noticed some elk swimming in the water over by the other shore. We got so excited and started paddling more quickly. 

We made it to the elk and were close. The elk just stared at us and kept enjoying themselves. We hung out there watching them for a bit and then headed back to shore. What an awesome experience!

Lunch at Earls Kitchen + Bar

We had worked up quite an appetite so headed to lunch in town at Earls. The weather was absolutely perfect, so we sat outside on their rooftop patio. Everyone loved their meal and the view!

Drive to Maligne Lake

After lunch, we drove to Maligne Lake, which is about an hour away. The drive is down a road that is known for wildlife sightings. I had my eyes peeled the whole time. We ended up seeing a herd of bighorn sheep (including babies!) near Medicine Lake. We arrived at the Maligne Lake parking lot around 3:30 and got lucky, parking in the only spot available. 

Ice cream at Waffle Hut

Before we got in line for our tour, we were excited to get some ice cream at the Waffle Hut next to the gift shop. Mike and I split a toasted marshmallow flavored ice cream. It was delicious. 

Maligne Lake boat tour to Spirit Island

We got in line for our Maligne Lake boat tour around 4pm. We’d already gotten our tickets when purchasing the Pursuit Pass. We boarded the boat at 4:15 and started our cruise to Spirit Island. This lake is gorgeous. I thought it was prettier than Lake Minnewanka, which we had toured in Banff a few days prior.

After about 45 minutes, we arrived at Spirit Island. We had 15 minutes of free time to walk around and take pictures of the island. Spirit Island is one of the most photographed spots in the world. I thought it was interesting that it’s not actually an island for most of the year and is connected to the mainland. In the spring, the snow melting raises the water level, causing it to turn into an island.

On the boat ride back, Mike and I hung out on the back of the boat most of the time taking pictures and enjoying the fresh air. I highly recommend this tour!

Hike Moose Lake Loop

After our tour, we did a quick hike on the Moose Lake Loop, starting from the parking area on the opposite side of the lake. This is a 1.7-mile loop leading to a lake that moose frequent. The hike was easy, and we reached the lake after only about 15 minutes of hiking. Thanks to another group who pointed it out, we got to see a moose from across the lake! It was far away so hard to see without a zoom lens or binoculars. We took a few pictures and then headed back to the car.

Dinner at Jasper Brewing Company

After the hour drive back to Jasper, we ate dinner at Jasper Brewing Company. We liked the food and beers we got there!

Witness the dark sky

There was a new moon that night, which is perfect for witnessing the dark sky and Milky Way. Jasper is a Dark Sky Preserve, meaning it has limited light pollution and is an optimal spot for night sky viewing. We saw the Milky Way and probably about a million stars that night!

Day 2

Valley of the Five Lakes hike

We started our next day with a hike at the Valley of the Five Lakes. The trailhead is about 10 minutes from the town, and you’ll take the Icefields Parkway to get there. This trail is a loop that visits five different emerald-colored lakes. Note that the first part of this hike is very buggy, so I recommend bringing bug spray. The hike is about 3 miles total. You can go in either direction of the loop, but we turned left at the split. If you go this way, you’ll reach the “first lake” first.

The lakes are all pretty in their own way. The first lake is the largest. The second is very small. The third is very pretty and had a pair of red chairs you could relax and take in the view. The fourth lake is right around the corner from the third. The fifth lake has a dock you can walk out on. 

I thought this was a nice and relatively easy hike. Not the most spectacular hike I’ve ever done, but still a fun way to spend a couple hours.

Lunch at Patricia Street Deli

We swung by Patricia Street Deli after our hike to pick up some sandwiches to go. The staff was so friendly and helped us with all of our questions, as the menu is quite extensive. We brought our sandwiches back to the hotel and ate outside. They were delicious!

Whitewater Rafting

We changed into our swimsuits at the hotel and drove to the RV Parking Lot in town, where we met up with Jasper Rafting Adventures. I had booked the 1pm Athabasca Mile 5 rafting tour, knowing that the water is very cold and that would be the warmest part of the day. We met our tour guides and boarded the bus. They drove us up the river and gave us a good intro. This was my first time whitewater rafting, and I was a little nervous to fall out. This particular river section is fairly tame, and they said the chances of falling out are low.

We boarded our raft and made the one-hour journey down the river. It was so much fun! We all loved it. At the end, they let whoever wanted to jump into the river to cool off. 

After we got done, we went back to the hotel to change and get ready for dinner.

Dinner at Jasper Pizza Place

Jasper Pizza Place had fantastic pizza and we all really enjoyed our dinner. I also loved sitting outside on their patio. After dinner, we got yummy ice cream at Scoops and Loops.

Day 3

The weather turned on our last day and it was very cold! The mountains even got some snow. We decided not to do too much outside this day.

Breakfast at Jasper Wafflato

We started by getting breakfast at Jasper Wafflato. I got a waffle topped with bacon and eggs. It was good!

Mount Edith Cavell hike

The Mount Edith Cavell trailhead is 45 minutes south of town. You’ll drive up some winding mountain roads and gain a lot of elevation. The hike is only about a mile round trip and is moderate. You’ll start from the parking lot by climbing uphill most of the way. You arrive at Angel Glacier and Cavell Pond. There were also a couple large waterfalls next to the glacier. To finish the hike, you’ll come back the way you come. We really enjoyed this hike!

See the Fairmont

We stopped in the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on our way back to see it. The lodge and the grounds are gorgeous. We walked through some of their shops before heading back into town.

Lunch and shopping in Jasper

We spent the rest of our day getting lunch at Mad Grizzly, popping around into all the shops, and then eventually got dinner at Alba Italian.

Jasper is a fantastic place to visit. I hope you get to spend at least three days here admiring the park’s beauty!


How to Spend Four Days in Banff
Day Trip to Yoho National Park and Golden, BC
Driving the Icefields Parkway
Banff National Park Trip Logistics
Hiking Banff
The Lakes of Northern Banff
Activities Near Banff Townsite


  • Mike and Lynn Faber

    January 11, 2024

    Another beautiful post, Melissa. The wildlife, the mountains, and the lakes combine to make a paradise. Excellent photography!


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