Alberta & BC Rockies Jasper Recreation
If you're in the Jasper Area, here are some of your recreational opportunities:
Back Country Camping
Back country camping is allowed in designated campgrounds, most 6 kilometres or more away from the nearest road. You must have a free Park Use Permit, obtainable from Park Information Centres. Some trails have quotas to discourage over-use (especially on long weekends). Enquire about the latest conditions regarding wildlife, weather, and fire hazards when you pick up your permit.
You must pack out your garbage, may only start campfires in designated areas, and should stow food out of reach of bears (to avoid unwelcome overnight visitors).
Other Links: [ Learn to Hike ]
The "Golden Triangle" between Golden, Radium, and Banff is a popular and challenging biking mecca. On the three day trip, you ride the wide highway shoulders, but remember you have serious hills and cross the Continental Divide twice
The Icefields Parkway, between Lake Louise and Jasper, is a popular 3 to 5 day ride. The hills are easier northbound, but are shorter southbound. You can take a bus to return to your starting point.
The roads around Jasper are scenic without too many hills or challenge.
Mountain biking's popularity has convinced the Park to designate some old fire roads as trails for mountain bikes. Many trails are off-limits to protect both hikers and wildlife. Stick to the trails, to minimize plant damage and danger to animals. In back-country areas, mountain bikers should ring the bells on their bikes to warn bears of their approach. A helmet is also highly recommended, as is a repair kit, a first adi kit, extra clothing and food.
Other Links: [ Learn to Bicycle ]
Non-motorized boats are allowed on most lakes and rivers in the Park. Power boats are only allowed on Pyramid Lake in Jasper and Lake Minnewanka in Banff. Electrical boats with no on-board generator are treated as non-motorized boats. You can rent canoes on the popular lakes: Beauvert, Maligne, Patricia, and Pyramid. You can take a commercial boat tour on Maligne Lake.
Canoeing or kayaking is popular, and the Park offers a variety of river difficulties. The May/June spring runoff have the highest river levels, repeated again in August with peaking glacial melting. You can take rafting trips of the Athabasca, Sunwapta, or Maligne rivers lasting either one day or overnight.
Windsurfing is not recommended in any of the Park, since all the waters are snow or glacial runoff. Talbot Lake, east of town, offers good winds though wet suits or dry suits should always be worn.
Other Links: [ Learn to Windsurf ]
Parks Canada has 31 roadside campgrounds with 5,000 campsites, usually have flush toilets, picnic tables, firewood, cooking stations, and drinking water. When these are full, campers must use "overflow" campsites with limited facilities (ie just pit toilets). You can reserve ahead; spots fill quickly during the summer. Fees range from $6 to $16 per night, with a maximum stay of 14 nights. You may not collect firewood from the forest or riverbeds.
Most cross-country skiing is done in the valleys, and there are several groomed "loop" trails especially around Pyramid and Maligne Lake. These trails
can each be managed nicely in a day.
Back-country skiing is also popular (see "Back-country camping") but let park officials know of your planned route and schedule, in case you become injured or lost.
Other Links: [ Learn to Ski ]
There are a number of popular downhill ski areas
in the mountain parks.
Marmot Basin in Jasper is a few kilometres south of town and has a well-mixed difficulty of terrain. It has vertical drop of 701 m (2,300 ft) with 7 lifts. During the winter, it gets 400 cm (11 ft) of snow with a ski season from December until mid-April.
For a longer ski season, head down to Banff & Lake Louise
where Sunshine Village and Lake Louise have seasons extending into late May because of their higher elevation. In recent years, Sunshine Village celebrates summer with skiing on in the first weekend of July.
Other Links: [ Learn to Ski & Snowboard | Ski conditions ]
The mountain waters are quite cold and relatively low in nutrients, so fishing is generally poor. To compensate, a number of lakes have been stocked from hatchery-raised fish. To maintain the natural fish stocks, "catch and release" practices are recommended. Of course, its not always about he fish you catch: here you not only talk about the "one that got away" but the spectacular mountain scenery. Popular lakes, close to the main highway are Maligne, Patricia, and Pyramid. You should check with park Information Centres for appropriate fishing seasons, catch limits and permits. A National Parks Fishing License is required, which costs $13 for an annual licence (for those over 16), and $7 for a 4-day licence, plus $8 for a five-year Wildlife Identification Number (WIN) permit.
Golf is a popular sport in the Mountain Parks. Remember that with the higher altitude, shots fly farther in teh thin air, but your swing takes more effort. The Jasper Park Lodge has a wide open course across the Athabasca River from the town of Jasper, is world-famous as a spectacularly scenic golf resort.
Other Links: [ Learn to Golf | Mountain Golf Courses ]
There are over 3,000 kilometres of trails
in the Park, from short hikes from a parking lot to 100 kilometre wilderness routes. Backpackers require a Park Use Permit from the Park Information Centres (see back country camping
); you should take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. Take an extra change of clothing, waterproof equipment, and a camp stove. Camping and campfires are allowed only in designated areas. Check with the Park Information Centres for current weather, fire, and wildlife hazards.
Other Links: [ Learn to Hike ]
This was how explorers moved around the mountains before the steam locomotive. There are a number of designated horseback trails in the mountains. Trail riding is restricted because it is more destructive to the trails,and some trails are marked for joint hiker-horseback use. Contanct the Park Information Centres.
Horses are available from the Jasper Park Lodge (a CP Hotel & Resort) as well as other locations around the parks. You can rent horses by the hour, half-day, or day from several locations, or go on a guided tour.
Mountain climbing, or a simpler version, rock climbing, is a popular way to explore the extremes of the mountains. The Rockies have over 700 peaks that exceed 10,000 feet or 3,000 metres, so there is plenty of challenge and opportunity. Many of the rocky faces are crumbly sedimentary rock, so many of the routes to the tops of mountains incorporate glaciers, snow or ice. Modern equipment and clothing makes winter mountaineering more popular, and the Rockies provide a number of frozen waterfalls that are a challenge for ice-climbers. These include the Weeping Wall, and the Snow Dome at the Columbia Icefields.
The mountains have many walkable trails that can take you to the peaks of popular mountains. You should check topographic maps for routes that match your skill and endurance levels. If you are interested in more challenging routes, you can hire a professional mountain guide, who can provide both guidance and equipment for your mountain ascent.
There are a number of steep cliffs that are very popular with rock climbers. Rock climbers are more interested in challenging verticals, rather than ascending to the top of the mountain. There are many interesting rock faces including those at the Weeping Wall and the Stutfield cliffs just north of the Columbia Icefields.
Other Links: [ Learn Mountaineering ]