The wilderness of Jasper National Park awaits you this fall, with plenty of things to do and see, you won’t have any problems filling up your vacation days with exciting activities and sites.
This national park doesn’t receive as many visitors as its southern counterpart – Banff National Park – so you will find that places are not as crowded and it is easier to find the remote areas to have some alone time in nature.
The fall season provides comfortable temperatures to spend time hiking or biking on the endless trails in the park. Jasper townsite offers a nice variety of accommodations, restaurants and stores to browse through, so make sure to take some time to enjoy the town while you are there.
Dark Sky Festival and Stargazing
The crisp clear skies in the fall provide fantastic opportunities to view meteor showers, the Milky Way and potentially even the Northern Lights. You can’t get a better chance to see the heavens than in the largest accessible dark sky preserve in the world.
This festival brings the opportunity for people to share in the wonder of the universe and the mysteries of the night sky. October brings the enjoyment of fantastic events and plenty of stargazing. This year, the event runs from October 15 to 24th, 2021.
You’ll have the chance to look through the most powerful telescopes in the Canadian Rockies and join a guided tour of the Solar System. You’ll also have a chance to attend a special talk on Canada’s dark skies or a quick workshop about how to photograph objects in the night sky with your DSLR camera. Star Sessions are available Saturdays in September (starting September 11) and Friday/Saturdays in October, as well as October 20th during the Dark Sky Festival.
Located on a mountain called The Whistler, just outside the townsite of Jasper, the SkyTram is the highest and longest guided aerial tramway in Canada. Travelling to a height of 2,263 metres with a travel time of 7.5 minutes, this provides travellers with the perfect opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding peaks and valleys that make up this part of the gorgeous Canadian Rockies.
Hiking trails at the top allow you to explore on your own. Operating daily until October 31st, you can choose to take the tram up and down the mountainside, or hike up and jump a tram back down. There’s a handy snack bar at the top to refuel yourself if you have hiked up. Book ahead to guarantee your ride.
Indigenous Fireside Storytelling:
This fall you can spend an unforgettable evening with a fantastic Indigenous storyteller, singer and drummer – Matricia Brown. She will perform for small, intimate groups and will also answer questions about her culture and the history of the Indigenous peoples of the region.
This is a unique fireside experience that you won’t find anywhere else. This event is held every Wednesday evening at the lower station of the Jasper SkyTram. To book or for more information, email Matricia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fall is an excellent time to spot wildlife, sometimes easier than other times of the year, mainly because many are preparing for winter and foraging for food. Keep your eyes peeled as you drive, as you can sometimes see wildlife alongside the roads, and be aware when hiking, as these animals will be focused on eating everything they can.
As well, fall is the rutting season for both elk and bighorn sheep, and while this may present more opportunities to view them, always be aware that males can be aggressive.
Stay in your vehicle, don’t feed wildlife, and never approach a wild animal. Drive Maligne Lake Road, walk around Maligne Lake or Moose Lake, drive Pyramid Lake Road, or hang out at Jasper Park Lodge. While never guaranteed, these are the best places to potentially see animals.
If you would rather have a guided tour, check out the operators that provide tour services.
Canoe the Lakes
The lakes in the park are simply magical during the fall months, and some of the best ways to view the autumn colours are from the water. There are many incredible glacier-fed lakes to explore in a canoe, or kayak, and the slightly cooler, calmer weather of the fall makes for great paddling weather.
If you don’t have your own canoe, Wild Current Outfitters offers canoe rentals until November 5th, along with guided canoe tours. Stop in at the Parks Canada office for some recommendations and directions to all the best lakes to paddle.
Bike the Trails
Just because summer is waning doesn’t mean that you have to give up the rush of adrenaline that biking provides.
There are many trails in and around the townsite, and throughout the mountains that can be enjoyed on two wheels.
If you don’t have your own bike, grab a rental from Bench Bike Shop. You can even book a fun guided biking tour with Journey Bike Guides to get the most of the best trails for your skill level. There are so many wonderful trails of all levels that will take you through stunning landscapes. Don’t forget to stop for a moment here and there along the way to really soak up the atmosphere of the mountains.
If you are more into riding on two wheels rather than peddling on two wheels, this is a chance to feel the freedom of the open road while travelling through the spectacular Rockies.
Jasper Motorcycle Tours is open until October 15th, and provides Harley Davidson motorcycles, heated jackets, and cozy sidecars, which makes this a fantastic fall activity even when the weather is a bit cooler.
If you have your license and experience riding, you can rent a motorcycle from them to enjoy on your own, but for those who want the thrill of riding without the worry of driving, take advantage of their sidecar tours that come with professional drivers and commentary, not to mention tons of picture stops.
Address: 610 Patricia St, Jasper
While the outdoors is always calling in Jasper, there is nothing to hold you back from enjoying some indoor time as you receive some pampering. There is nothing quite like a relaxing day of massage, online yoga or other spa services.
There are three fabulous places to book a wide variety of specialty services to make you feel your best – Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Reflections Spa, Mountain Wellness Day Spa and Jasper Wellness. You will leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, and ready to soak in the mountain atmosphere!
No matter the weather, no matter the season, the incredible Athabasca Falls is not to be missed.
Just a short drive south on the Icefields Parkway Highway, this is an excellent place to view the force of water and nature, as the water continues to carve its path through the rock. While not very high, the thundering falls and mist will still take your breath away as you get closer and closer to the tumbling waters. The short walk is suitable for all abilities and ages, and this is a fabulous place to get some selfies to show off your vacation to everyone.
Another stunning area to spend a day in, Maligne Canyon offers hikers the opportunity to hike down into this carved canyon to experience Jasper’s nature at its best.
Parks Canada has provided visitors with a self-guided interpretative trail experience that takes you along the canyon, with signs describing the geological history of the area.
There are four bridges across the gorge, each with its own special view, so don’t worry if you don’t do the whole hike, there is plenty to see along the way.
A short hiking loop tours the upper reaches of the canyon, while a longer trail follows the gorge and exits at a fifth and sixth bridge lower down.
Maligne Lake Cruise
The glacier-fed lake is a gem on its own, but one of the best things here, other than the spectacular scenery, is that you can book a cruise out onto the lake to see the famous Spirit Island and the surrounding lakeshore. There is a pretty good chance to spot wildlife as well. Cruises are available until October 11th, and you can pre-book your tickets online to guarantee your spot. This cruise was voted one of the best boat cruises in Canada, so you know that it’s something you can’t miss.
Guided Fall Hikes
If you want to really experience fall magic along the trails but are not comfortable heading out on your own to explore, especially in this season of unpredictable weather, you can choose to book a guided hike in the area. The professional licensed guides will provide you with history and information about the flora and fauna while guiding, ensuring that you get the most out of your walk. There are plenty of companies that offer up fantastic services, such as Jasper Hikes and Tours, Canadian Skyline Adventures, High Sights Guiding and Jasper Walks & Talks.
Golden Larch Hiking
If you have been in the mountains in the fall previously, you know that this is the perfect time to see the incredible golden larches. These unique coniferous trees mostly grow at higher altitudes, so you are more likely to see them in the mountains than anywhere else, although Jasper really only boasts two places that can guarantee a view of these – the Skyline Trail and the SkyTram.
Take a moment to touch the soft needles, as these will fall in a couple of weeks, just as others do, and grow green again in spring. You can usually see these golden beauties from the second week of September into the first part of October.
This is a truly magical time to spend some time hiking and taking pictures to capture the golds and greens that cover the mountainsides. Dress and pack appropriately and be aware that there is still wildlife around and that autumn weather can be unpredictable.
The Skyline Trail is a multiday trek and not suitable for those with no hiking experience. Make sure you register at the Parks Canada office before heading out on this trail.
Mount Edith Cavell
The winding road up brings you to a place where you can view the incredible Angel Glacier, along with the impressive 3300-metre Mount Edith Cavell. This fragile environment is a unique, gorgeous area to spend some time hiking this fall. The trails through alpine scenery give you a chance to choose an easy walk or a more intermediate-level hike. The two Mt. Edith Cavell hikes are the Path of the Glacier Trail and the Cavell Meadows Trail. Both hikes start on the same path then split to offer different routes for enjoying Angel Glacier, Cavell Pond, and the mountain itself.
Please be aware that no large vehicles, such as motorhomes or trailers are allowed on the road up, and that the road itself is open until the first snowfall and access is completely closed after November 1st.
Hop on the back of a well trained horse to experience the Jasper area in the true western style. No experience is needed and you can choose from trail rides from one hour to three hours. Ride through the stunning fall colours and beautiful mountain vistas, enjoying the unique views from the back of a horse. Your professional trail guides will tell you everything you need to know about the horses and the area. A perfect morning or afternoon activity this autumn, trail rides are available with Jasper Riding Stables.
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Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archives
The only museum in Jasper, this is a must visit for those interested in the history of the area. The interesting exhibits explore the fur trade, the railway, and the early exploration of the national park. The featured artifacts include Curly Phillips’ canoe, the ice axe from Mt. Alberta, and David Thompson’s musket balls recovered from Athabasca Pass. During a colder fall afternoon, this indoor activity is perfect.
Address: 400 Bonhomme St, Jasper