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3 Days in Jasper National Park: The Ultimate Itinerary

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How to Spend an Incredible 3 Days in Jasper

Jasper National Park is an incredible part of the world. It is not too far away from the famous and super popular Banff National Park and it is one of our favourite places in Canada! If you are visiting Canada, you need to add Jasper onto your Canadian Rockies Road Trip Itinerary.

When compared with Banff, the crowds are much smaller and the entire park somehow feels a lot more wild and less touristy!

In Jasper, you are much more likely to get a glimpse of some of Canada’s amazing wildlife, such as moose, bears and elk!

There are loads of things to do and see in Jasper including viewpoints, hiking trails, boat cruises and gorgeous crystal clear lakes. The town of Jasper is also really lovely with some great restaurants and cafes.

This guide will give you a 3 day Jasper itinerary. It has everything you need to plan the an incredible 3 day trip to Jasper including where to stay, all of the must-see viewpoints and hikes and best restaurants in Jasper.

man paddleboarding on Beauvert Lake in Jasper

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Things to Know About Jasper National Park

📍 Where is Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park is located in the Canadian Rockies and is about a 3 hour drive North from Banff, up the Icefields Parkway. The below map has pins of all of the places mentioned in this blog post.

Click here to open the map in Google Maps!

✈ How to Get to Jasper

If you are flying, the closest international airports to Jasper are Calgary International airport (4.5 hours drive) and Edmonton International airport (4 hours drive).

I recommend renting a car in advance from the airport to pick up on arrival so that you don’t have to stress when you get there.

Getting to Jasper from Banff

If you are coming to Jasper from Banff, you will need to drive up the Icefields Parkway. The Icefields Parkway is a 232km (144 miles) long scenic drive which will take you at least an entire day if you plan on stopping and seeing some of the sights.

Exploring the Icefields Parkway is one of the best things to do while in Banff!

Elk in Jasper

😉 Is Jasper National Park worth it?

Jasper National Park is extremely underrated. It is one of the most beautiful places to see on this planet in my opinion and severely underrated when compared with Banff.

📆 Best Time to Visit Jasper National Park

The best time to visit Jasper National Park is in the Summer months because you can hike, camp, swim in the gorgeous lakes and the weather is usually perfect.

Summer

Summer is a great time to visit Jasper because there is SO much to do. There are loads of amazing hikes to do, viewpoints to see and lakes to relax by as well as the wildlife to see!

Girl paddleboarding on Lake Annette in Jasper


During Summer, there is an abundance of wildlife to look out for in Jasper such as grizzly and black bears, elk, mountain goats, marmots and so much more!

If you visit Jasper in the Summer, you will never feel like you have enough time to do and see it all.

Fall

Fall is a really special time to see Jasper as the colours are incredible! It becomes a lot less busy because all of the Summer tourist will have left. The weather during Fall is still lovely and you can still access many of the hikes, waterfalls and views.

Winter

Jasper is one of the best Winter destinations in Canada! In Winter, Jasper turns into a snowy Winter wonderland! Jasper is absolutely beautiful in the Winter and a lot of people visit at this time of the year specifically to see the incredible frozen waterfalls such as the one at Maligne Canyon.

There are also different kinds of activities that you can do in Winter, such as dog sledding!

Spring

Spring is an amazing time to visit Jasper because the temperatures are cooler than the Summer. Some of the higher mountain trails may still be snowy so there are usually less hiking opportunities but the crowds are also smaller which is always nice!

How is Jasper Different from Banff?

When compared with Banff, Jasper is the less touristy, more wild location of the two. The town of Jasper tends to be a bit less busy but still a lot of fun with lots of great restaurants!

Although Banff is home to the famous Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, Jasper has Spirit Island which is a crazy beautiful place with turquoise water that you can only get to by boat.

Girl looking out at Spirit Island
Spirit Island

Both Banff and Jasper have a gondola but the gondola in Jasper has slightly more incredible views (in my opinion).

Both places have some really great hikes and things to see and do as well as some great restaurants, although Banff has more in terms of restaurants, cafes and a bigger shopping scene.

If you are planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies, I recommend adding both Banff and Jasper to your road trip itinerary if you have time.

❓ How Many Days Should you Spend in Jasper

Even if you only have one day, you should try to see some of Jasper. If I only had one day in Jasper I would spend it seeing Spirit Island and doing a hike.

photo of canoe on Spirit Island in Jasper Canada
Spirit Island

The ideal amount of time to spend in Jasper is 3-4 days but you could definitely spend longer. You can see the main spots quite easily in 3-4 days but if you want to explore more away from the main tourist spots, a few more days would be perfect.

Is it Possible to See Jasper National Park in One Day?

It is definitely possible to see some of Jasper National Park in 1 day, however you would need to make sure you know exactly want you want to see and do and have everything planned out in advance.

Lake in Jasper

🚗 Do I Need a Car to Visit Jasper

A car will definitely make your trip to Jasper easier as there is not really any public transport that will transport you to the places in the park that are away from the actual town. If you aren’t able to bring your own car to Jasper, you can hire a car from Edmonton airport or Calgary airport, depending on where you fly into.

🚗 Find the best rental car prices here! 🚗

Another great option is to join a tour! This 2 day tour starts in Jasper and takes you to some must-see places in Jasper and along the Icefields Parkway, before then taking you to all of the must-see spots in Banff!

🎟 National Parks Pass

You will need a National Parks Pass (Discovery Pass) for pretty much everywhere in Jasper. You can purchase one here.

🐶 Are Dogs Allowed in Jasper National Park?

Dogs are allowed on a lot of the trails in Jasper National Park which is amazing! However, there are some trails that don’t allow dogs due to the large amount of wildlife in the area.

You can read more about bringing your dog to Jasper National Park here.

🌲 Leave No Trace

Whenever you are enjoying the beautiful nature that our world has to offer, remember to leave no trace (LNT)! Respect the beautiful places that make our world beautiful and take out everything that you take in, take only photos and respect the wildlife and other people. You can read more on the 7 LNT principles here.

Couple in Jasper National Park

🎒 What to Pack for a Trip to Jasper

When you are packing for Jasper, you are going to want to pack for an outdoor adventure.

🎒 Check out our gear guide for a full list of our hiking gear!

Ultimate Jasper National Park 3 Day Itinerary

Day 1

On day 1, you will be visiting some of the top places to visit in Jasper! I recommend having a quick breakfast at your hotel before you leave for the day.

For lunch you could take a packed lunch or get something at the Maligne Lake Chalet and Guesthouse after the Spirit Island Cruise.

Spirit Island

You can’t go to Jasper and not visit Spirit Island! Spirit Island is an incredibly beautiful place that you can only reach by boat.


During your boat ride, watch the water as it gets more and more blue. The reason for this is that you are heading closer towards the glacier that feeds into Maligne Lake. 

😉 Fun Fact: Maligne Lake is the largest glacially-fed lake in the Canadian Rockies

couple on the Spirit Island Boat cruise in Jasper


To get to Spirit Island from Jasper, the drive is about 50 minutes to Maligne Lake. We saw our first-ever grizzley bear on the road from Jasper to Maligne Lake which was a super exciting experience!

Maligne Lake Boat Cruise


From the Maligne Lake wharf, you will get on a cruise which will need to be pre-booked. The Spirit Island boat cruise takes about 1.5 – 2 hours total.

🚤 Book your Spirit Island Boat Cruise here!

Maligne Canyon

Once you have refueled with your packed lunch or at the Maligne Lake Chalet and Guesthouse, it’s time to head to your next destination!


Maligne Canyon is a really impressive slot canyon with gorgeous blue water and waterfalls that you can hike along next to.

To hike the entire canyon, it is 3.7km / 2.3 miles with an elevation gain of 131m / 429 ft. It will take you about 1-2 hours each way, which also depends on how long you stop for photos. The canyon is extremely impressive so you will find yourself stopping quite a bit.

Maligne Canyon


If you find yourself getting hungry while exploring the canyon, there is a restaurant on site called Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen.

Dinner

Feel free to go wild and not follow this itinerary for every single meal you eat but we ate at Earls and it was delicious! If you are familiar with Canadian restaurants, you will know that Earls is literally everywhere. The food is a little pricey, especially if you decide to get cocktails like Dave and I did but you’re on holiday so why not!?

If you go to Earls, try to get a table on the patio. The views are great!

Day 2

Day 2 is going to be adventurous! You will be exploring Mount Edith Cavell and going on a really beautiful hike if you are feeling up to it. Afterwards, you will visit one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the Icefields Parkway, Athabasca Falls.

Mount Edith Cavell

Mount Edith Cavell is about a 40 minute drive from Jasper. The great thing about Edith Cavell is that you don’t have to walk far to see an incredible view or you can choose to go on a nice long hike!

Mount Edith Cavell


When we went to Mt Edith Cavell, it was pouring with rain and so we didn’t go on much of a hike but I think it was still worth the drive to get there. There are two main hikes that you can do at Mt. Edith Cavell.

Path of the Glacier Trail

Distance: 1.2km / 0.7 miles return | Elevation gain: 70m / 230 ft | Time: 1 hour

The Path of the Glacier Trail is perfect for if you don’t want to go on an insane hike but still want to see some incredible views!

girl standing in Mount Edith Cavell


The trail starts off paved and then turns to a maintained gravel trail, before ending at an incredible bright blue pond called Cavell Pond underneath Angel Glacier.

We stayed at the viewpoint for ages, staring at the crazy looking pond and listening and watching for the ice cracking off Angel Glacier and falling into the pond.

Cavell Meadows Trail

Distance: 7km / 4.3 miles return | Elevation gain: 500m / 1,640 ft | Time: 3-5 hours

The Cavell Meadows trail takes you through the forest and some beautiful meadows to a viewpoint overlooking Mount Edith Cavell, Angel Glacier and Cavell Pond.

Athabasca Falls

Although Athabasca Falls do get extremely busy as they are a popular tourist spot for practically everyone travelling along the Sea to Sky Highway, they are worth a visit!

Photo Athabasca Falls with strong waterfall in early Summer


Alternatively, you could stop at Athabasca Falls on your way to Banff if you are taking the Icefields Parkway.

Photo Athabasca Falls with strong waterfall in early Summer


The Icefields Parkway is the long stretch of road from Banff to Jasper and is home to some of the most epic views we have ever seen! We spent one extremely packed and long day driving the Icefields Parkway and visiting all of the best stops.

Dinner

Jasper Brewing Company is great for a not too pricey meal with a good beer! They have things like fish and chips, ribs and burgers.

Day 3

Day 3 is lake day! There are so many gorgeous lakes in Jasper and today you are going to see 3 of them!

Beauvert Lake

Beauvert Lake, which is also known as Lac Beauvert, is about 15 minutes from Jasper. The Fairmont Hotel is located right on the lake so is a great place to get coffee or a bite to eat after spending time paddling or swimming in the lake.

girl paddleboarding on Beauvert Lake


We brought our own inflatable paddleboards to jasper which are perfect for road tripping and we can highly recommend! Otherwise, there is canoe rental available at the Fairmont.

Beauvert Lake has a gorgeous backdrop of mountains so is great for photos!

Annette Lake

Annette Lake is another gorgeous blue lake in Jasper with sparkling clear water. Just like Beauvert Lake, Annette Lake also has a beautiful mountain backdrop.

couple standing on dock at Annette Lake in Jasper


You can walk from the parking lot down the trail next to the lake and find a spot to set up on the grass by the lake. There are lots of little spots to choose from with lake access and also a lovely dock.

Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake is a fun place to visit if you have some spare time. When we went it started pouring with rain but we still had fun as you can tell from the photos and it was still absolutely stunning!

There is a small parking lot where you will then walk down the path over a bridge to Pyramid Island which is a small bit of land separated from the shore.

couple on bridge leading to Pyramid Island on Pyramid Lake in Jasper


From Pyramid Island, you will have views out to Pyramid Mountain.

Other Jasper Lakes to visit

  • Patricia Lake
  • Edith Lake
  • Maligne Lake
  • Jasper Lake
  • Medicine Lake
  • Horseshoe Lake
  • Honeymoon Lake

Jasper Skytram

You can’t leave Jasper without taking a ride on the Jasper Skytram as it is one of the best things to do in Jasper! It is also one of the most popular things to do, so I highly recommend getting your tickets in advance.

We didn’t have the best luck with the weather so we saw more clouds than views but it was still a fun experience.


The Skytram takes you up to the top of Whistlers Mountain and the views from up there are insane! The Jasper Skytram is the longest and highest guided aerial tramway in Canada and takes you up to a crazy 2,263m!

Once you have reached the top, which is the false summit, you can walk even higher up the mountain to the summit (or Whistler’s Peak).

The hike to Whistler’s Peak from where you get off the cable car will take you about 20-30 minutes one way. It is a 1.4 km hike one way, with 200m elevation gain. The elevation at the summit is 2,463m.

On a clear day, you can see the surrounding mountains, including Mount Robson and Mount Edith Cavell, which are both pretty spectacular!

Jasper Skytram - Viator
Credit: Jasper Skytram via Viator

If you are looking to do a longer hike, you could do Indian Ridge, which is 12.7 km return with an elevation gain of 950m from where the Jasper Skytram drops you off.

The Jasper Skytram closes for the Winter and reopens in the Spring.

Dinner

Usually on our last night in a place we like to treat ourselves with something extra yummy so when we were in Jasper we chose Albas Italian Restaurant.

The food here was absolutely delicious and they have both indoor and outdoor seating which was really nice!

🛌 Where to Stay in Jasper

There are lots of amazing places to stay in Jasper but you do need to book early to get a good deal (or any accommodation at all). If you leave it too long and you are planning on visiting Jasper over Summer, the prices tend to go up, the closer it gets to your trip time.

Budget

In terms of finding budget accommodation in Jasper, I can tell you that it does exist! Your budget accommodation options are either camping or staying in a hostel.

HI Jasper – Hostel

The HI in Jasper is actually gorgeous! The facilities are great, there is free parking and you can even get a private room so that you don’t have to stay in a dorm. Of course the private rooms are more expensive but sometimes they are just worth it.

Jasper Downtown Hostel

The Jasper Downtown Hostel also offers both private and shared dorm rooms. The hostel has some great facilities such as a shared kitchen area, a lounge and a laundry.

Camping

There are lots of campgrounds in and around Jasper which you will need to book through Parks Canada.

We stayed at Whistlers Campground which was actually the best campground we have probably ever stayed in. They have recently modernised the bathroom and shower facilities and the campground was huge and so spacious!

Mid

Astoria Hotel

The Astoria Hotel has two onsite restaurants, Papa George’s Restaurant (which has darts that you can play) and De’d Dog Bar & Grill.

Overlander Mountain Lodge

The Overlander Mountain Lodge has a rustic, really cozy vibe to it. This hotel is a little further out from the Jasper town centre, however it is surrounded by incredible sites to see and next to the Athabasca River.

Lobstick Lodge

Lobstick Lodge is a 5 minute drive from Jasper Town Centre and has a fitness centre, onsite restaurant and a hot tub along with beautiful surrounding mountain views.

Luxury

Luxury accommodation is always the most fun to choose from and Jasper definitely has some good ones!

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

The Fairmont in Jasper is absolutely gorgeous! It is set in the middle of the mountains next to Lake Beauvert, has a beautiful outdoor pool and gives off vibes of rustic yet modern.

Chateau Jasper

The Chateau Jasper has a indoor pool and hot tub with the most gorgeous huge glass windows surrounding it to let the natural light in! There is also a gym and onsite restaurant. The Chateau Jasper has a modern yet slightly rustic vibe.

Forest Park Hotel

The Forest Park Hotel has some really nice facilities. It is an indoor pool, onsite spa, a fitness centre and 2 onsite dining options including a cocktail bar.

Cabins in Jasper

There are a few different cabins in Jasper that you can stay in such as Jasper East Cabins which are only a 14 minute walk from the Athabasca River and surrounded by gorgeous mountain views!

There is also Jasper Gates Resort which are located further out from town (60kms away) but you will feel like you are in the middle of the mountains.

How to Spend One Day in Banff

If you are arranging a trip to Jasper, you should definitely see some of Banff!

Banff is the gateway to the Canadian Rockies and the famous and stunning Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. There is SO much to do in and around Banff, but how the heck do you choose what to do if you only have 1 day?!

couple at Moraine Lake with a rainbow

This guide lists the best things to do in Banff in 1 day and also includes a list of the best places to stay in Banff, a packing list and information on how to get around Banff without a car.

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zidane

Wednesday 9th of August 2023

thank you for making this article very useful and keep up the good work

Kerry

Wednesday 16th of August 2023

Thank you! Glad you liked it!

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