Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies is brimming with beautiful scenery, plentiful wildlife, and peaceful trails. We went tent camping on the weekend, and had a fantastic time. In the late fall there are few other hikers on the trails. The woods are tranquil with only occasional visitors, but the temperatures are cool. At night it went to -11 C (12 F), while during the day it went up to 5 C ( 41 F). We mostly hiked at the mid elevations, where there wasn’t too much snow yet.
Here is one of our two tents. The silver fly is designed to help reflect heat, to keep the inside cool, but that wasn’t a priority for this trip. If you camp in cooler weather, you know the tricky part is leaving the warm campfire for your cold sleeping bag in the tent at night. I curl up into a little ball inside my sleeping bag, until it warms up. Once it warms up from body heat, it is quite snug and cozy inside.
I love to start a fire first thing in the morning and drink my coffee, while warming my toes close to the blaze. Chopping wood for the fire is also great for warming you up. Our bananas froze over night, so we had to get inventive. We put peanut butter chocolates inside the banana and grilled it in its skin over the fire. What a delicious breakfast it made.
Instead of doing the usual longer hikes to the summits, we did shorter hikes, keeping mostly below the snowline. This walk was by Pyramid Lake. It’s a scenic stroll up the ridge from the lake, following the ridgeline, with views over to the Jasper townsite and back to the lake. In the mountains the weather changes very quickly, so it went from blowing snow, to almost clear by the time we got to the top. We were fortunate it partially cleared, allowing us to see the vista back across the lake.
We stopped at Athabasca Falls, which is a very short stroll to some great outlooks. In late fall the water levels going over the falls are probably at their lowest, but it is still beautiful. To give perspective to the shot of Athabasca Falls, the little red speck at the very top is a person.
The Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff is one of the most scenic drives. As you go south of Jasper, on the Icefields Parkway, there are views over the Athabasca River, with the mountains on either side. I’ve sometimes spotted mountain goats here, but not this visit. We did, however, see lots of elk (wapiti), mule deer, big horn sheep and coyotes around the park. It would be hard to visit Jasper and not see these ubiquitous animals. We didn’t spot any black bears or grizzly bears this trip, probably because they are making their way up to their hibernating spots now. A couple of years ago in October, while hiking in the alpine area, we saw a mother grizzly with three roly poly babies following behind her. They all looked fat enough to survive their winter hibernation. There were plenty of small mammals this visit as well. Jasper is an excellent park for wildlife viewing, but for some reason I didn’t end up taking any animal photos this trip.
At Sunwapta Falls there is a short 4 km (2.5 mile) walk to a series of falls. After the first falls, there is a lovely walk along the top of the canyon, with rushing water, cliffs and forest. You gradually come out down at the water level, to the lower falls. It is a wonderful area for exploring.
If you are looking for an excellent place for wildlife viewing, hiking and other outdoor pursuits, Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada is a great choice. There are a wide variety of walks, from short strolls to backcountry hikes. Here is another post I wrote about hiking in the Rocky Mountains.
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