Imagine fluffy white clouds dappling a sky of cobalt blue that seems to stretch forever only to be bounded by the jagged outline of snow covered alps on the horizon. Or a gentle valley, carpeted in spruce and aspen, that has been carved from the surrounding hills over millennia by a sweet tasting river that snakes it’s way to another endless horizon and more snow peaked mountains.
Sprinkled across this beautiful landscape, like diamonds tossed onto velvet, are magnificent lakes shimmering with sapphire blues and emerald greens in spring and summer, and glistening white in winter when covered in ice and snow. Rivers of the purest water that roar and cascade through narrow chasms and widen into mirrored pools, only to be tamed by the change of season as slowly encroaching ice silences the thunder and gently creates intricate shapes in frozen waterfalls and ice crusted trees. These are the two worlds of Jasper National Park.
Located in Alberts’a south west right on the border of British Columbia is the World Heritage listed Jasper National Park. The park covers almost 11,000 square kilometres (4,200 sq miles) making it the largest park in the Rocky Mountains. Established in 1907 it is also one of the oldest parks in Canada and has been a popular holiday destination for more than a century allowing visitors to enjoy short break stays of just a few days or extended vacations for weeks at a time hiking and exploring the park’s more than 1,200 km (750 miles) of trails.
In the warmer months the park is teeming with wildlife with elk, moose and caribou, as well as bighorn sheep and mountain goats in abundance. There are also mountain lions, grey wolves and even grizzlies to be found in the forests but these are best given a wide birth as they can be unpredictable – especially during breeding season.
A great base for any holiday in Jasper National Park is the township of Jasper itself. Surrounded by the magnificent Rocky Mountains the town has a resident population of around 5,000 people but this swells during peak seasons giving the township an almost festive feeling. Jasper is definitely a holiday town with many accommodation options and facilities for visitors, but it still retains a comfortable and friendly small town atmosphere.
Some of the scenic highlights of Jasper National Park include the spectacular Icefield Parkway that stretches 230km (140 miles) between Jasper and Lake Louise with the magnificent Athabasca Glacier at Columbia Icefield must-see stops along the way. Atahbasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls are thunderous during summer but freeze into beautiful frozen waterfalls in winter. No trip to Jasper National Park would be complete without visiting some of its famous lakes such as Medicine Lake, Patricia Lake and the amazingly beautiful Maligne Lake where you’ll also find Spirit Island – possibly one of the most beautiful sights in all of Alberta.
Jasper National Park really is one of those rare destinations that is completely transformed by the different seasons – each offering a new palette of colours and beauty that will remain warmly in your memory for years to come.