Picking 5 awesome things to do in Jasper, Alberta, Canada is an extremely difficult task. There are so many things to do in Jasper that it would take weeks to see and do them all. So faced with the task of narrowing them down to 5 in my short 3 day stay in Jasper after a 2-day journey from Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer train; I give you my 5 awesome things to do in Jasper!
White Water Rafting the Fraser River
If you’re thinking to yourself, isn’t the water really cold in Northern Alberta. The answer is yes. The Fraser River temperature is about 8 degrees Celsius or some 50 degrees Fahrenheit. However, with a wetsuit on it’s really not that bad although you will get wet, believe me!
The Fraser River rafting point is about an hours drive from Jasper, actually over the border into British Columbia. You start right in the shadow of Mount Robson; which is the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies and is seriously gorgeous!
Each boat holds about 8 people plus a guide from Maligne Adventures who are really friendly and very funny-even with a few corny jokes! The ride itself is about an hour or so through mainly level 2 and 3 rapids. To put that into perspective, it’s a nice ride with some moderate rapids but mostly pretty calm and relaxing but very scenic and beautiful. You will never be scared.
Check it out if you’re in Jasper and if you’ve never rafted before it’s a great place to try for the first time! Trust me, my first time was in the Zambezi River at Victoria Falls; which are the biggest rapids in the world…that was scary!
Harley Davidson Motorcycle Tour
I took a Harley Davidson guided motorcycle sidecar tour with Jasper Motorcycle Tours. What that means is I got to ride in a sidecar with a super cool Harley Davidson through the mountains around Jasper. To me, this is definitely one of the coolest things to do in Jasper and the first time I had ever done something like that.
The staff at Jasper Motorcycle Tours are excellent and outfit you in full out leathers; doo-rag and chaps included! You can basically pick the tour you want and the places you’d like to see.
Sadly for me, although I was riding for about an hour or so, it was raining heavily when I went so I wasn’t able to get the great pictures I wanted. But even with the inclement weather, I had a blast and it was a real thrill to ride in a sidecar to a Harley Davidson.
The Jasper Tramway takes you high above the small town of Jasper. It gives you incredible views and is the longest and highest aerial tramway in Canada. You can see forever.
The tramway takes about 15 minutes to get to the top and from there you can walk along the ridge to see views in all directions. It is pretty cold up top so dress appropriately; which I did not! However, I still had a blast and got some great pictures.
I think the best time to go up the Jasper Tramway is early in the morning, as the clouds seem to be highest at that point. Weather in Jasper is very unpredictable so give yourself a few days to do the Tramway, as the weather may not cooperate with you when you want it to!
I wasn’t expecting much for food in Jasper I’ll be honest. However, I ate at two excellent restaurants that deserve mentioning. First, Evil Dave’s is a great place to get some real variety in Jasper with some cool plays on old favorites like sushi and different meat and fish plates. The restaurant has really cool décor as well and if you need to use the restroom, just look for the neon lights that say ‘Live Nudes”!
I also ate a pizza place called Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria. Now as a pizza connoisseur and proud New Yorker and veteran of authentic Napoli style pizza I wasn’t expecting anything. However, it was highly recommended so I checked it out and I have to say it was pretty damn good!
The menu was extensive for different types of pizza but I went with a spicy sausage pie and it was delicious. I wouldn’t quite classify it with the great sots in New York, New Haven or Italy but it was excellent for Canada and certainly for Jasper.
As with any tourist-oriented town, jasper has a variety of accommodation to choose from. I stayed at the Tekarra Lodge, which is about a mile outside of town, just across the train tracks and the Trans-Canada Highway. It was excellent and really gives you a great feel for what Jasper has to offer.
The cabins are self sufficient and free standing. The beds are excellent and the amenities are just as good as anywhere in town. The rooms are very moderately priced, especially compared to the Fairmont in town.
However, the jewel of the Tekarra Lodge is simply the views or the river, mountains, forest and just nature in general. It is so relaxing to stroll around the grounds and just be in nature. The staff is also very friendly and I highly recommend staying there if you’re in Jasper!
Obviously, these are only 5 things to do in Jasper and there are hundreds more. Jasper is a great town that is as scenic as anywhere on Earth-it really is beautiful. Many people dismiss Jasper and head straight to Banff but I loved Jasper and would love to go back!