Road Trip to Jasper from Edmonton
Looking for a long weekend getaway from Edmonton? Here is a road trip itinerary that includes the magnificent Rockies, the woods that are alive with all things wild, sandy beaches and a smattering of Alberta’s history.
You can easily follow this itinerary if you are flying into Edmonton to visit Jasper. Consider doing the itinerary in the following order (so that you don’t retrace the path) and enjoy Edmonton attractions after your Jasper visit.
You may like:
1. Edmonton – Wetaskiwin -Lacombe- Sylvan Lake
2. Rocky Mountain National Historic Site – Abraham Lake – Icefields Parkway from Saskatchewan Crossing to Jasper
3. Jasper Attractions
4. Jasper to Edmonton Via Hinton
2. 36 Hours Trip
3. Using Transit/tour shuttles: What to do if you do not have a car.
Day 1: Edmonton to Sylvan Lake
On the Road: Travel south on Highway 2 and turn east on Highway 13. ~80 km from Edmonton (60 km from Edmonton international (YEG) airport.
Appreciate the ‘luxury’ of the road trip you are about to undertake by visiting at the museum that is dedicated to the mechanization of Alberta’s transportation. Learn how the lives of Albertans changed as gigantic farm machinery, and powerful vehicles replaced animal agricultural implements, horse-drawn buggies and wagons.
Hours: Open year-round. Closed on December 24, 25, January 1, & 2.
Winter Hours (Labour Day to Victoria Day): Tuesday – Sunday (closed Mondays, except for Holiday Mondays) | 10 am to 5 pm
Summer Hours (Victoria Day to Labour Day), Open Daily | 10 am to 5 pm
Admission: Adult (18 to 64 years) $13.00; Senior (65 and over) $11.00;
Youth (7 to 17 years) $9.00;
Child (6 -) Free; Family (2+ their children 7 to 17 ): $35.00
2. Ellis Bird Farm, Lacombe
On the Road: Take Highway 2A instead of the main highway for a more rural route. Drive via historic downtown and proceed to Ellis Bird farm: travel east on AB 12 and turn right onto range road 260.~ 75 kms from Reynolds-Alberta Museum. Drive: ~ 1 hour.
Things to do: This historic town, named after Father Albert Lacombe, is home to Ellis Bird Farm. Admire the Flat Iron Building, a three-sided building (one of three such structures in Western Canada) on your way to Ellis Bird Farm, which is dedicated to the conservation of Mountain Bluebirds. Stroll pathways along with beautiful farms and see a collection of bluebird boxes.
Hours: Mid May to – Early September
Admission: Free, donations appreciated.
If you have flown in, you may consider spending the night at Lacombe. There is a nice Bed and Breakfast at Billyco Junction Gardens (also a working organic farm). After your stop at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, drive straight to Billyco Junction Gardens (~1 hour from the Airport/Museum). After resting a while, you can explore Lacombe and Sylvan Lake.
3. Sylvan Lake
On the Road: South on range road 260, west on 597 and follow road signs to Sylvan lake. ~ 45km from Ellis Bird Farm, Lacombe. Drive: ~ 30 minutes.
Things to do: Sylvan Lake is a go-to summer day trip destination for Edmontonians. With its sandy beaches, lakeside outdoor water park and water-based recreational activities like flyboarding; Sylvan Lake has something for both adults and toddlers.
Hours: Year-round destination. Activities vary.
Admission: Beach and the Lake- free.
Stay: Spend the night here. Camping: Jarvis Bay Provincial Park.
Day 2: Sylvan Lake to Jasper
As you leave Sylvan lake and travel west on Highway 11, the road ascends gradually, skirting the foothills of Canadian Rockies and transitioning from Aspen parkland to mountainous terrain at Rocky Mountain House. This is a road ‘less’ travelled’ to Icefields parkway.
(If you are Edmonton/Calgary resident: Rocky Mountain House Vicinity in itself is a weekend getaway destination. Explore this region of unspoiled wilderness at the foothills of the Canadian Rockies over multiple weekends).
4: Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site
On the Road: From Sylvan Lake, follow David Thompson Highway (AB – 11) west for ~ 65km to reach Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site. Drive ~ 45 minutes
Explore the national historic site that preserves the site of the fur trading posts built by North West and Hudson’s Bay companies between 1799 and 1875. This was the base used by explorers including David Thompson, to chart out Canadian Rockies in the west. Stroll along North Saskatchewan river trail learning about how fur trade wiped out the bison herd heralding an end to both the fur trade and natives’ source of European goods.
Hours: 2017: May 10 to September 3 (open daily): 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
September 4 to September 30 (Thursday to Sunday): 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: Adult $ 3.90; Senior $ 3.40; Youth $ 1.90; Family/Group $ 9.80 (2017: Free, Canada 150)
Continue west along the highway for another 90km, you will reach Nordegg, an old mining town. Instead of stopping at Rocky Mountain House, you may consider visiting Brazeau Collieries National Historic Site and join for guided tours. The tour takes approximately 2 hours.
If you have an extra day or two, we suggest you stay in the area and explore Siffleur Falls, Crescent Fall and other glorious places in the area. Or comeback for a week to visit.
- Things to Do in and around Rocky Mountain House
- Fun Family Activities in Clearwater County
- Things to Do in Nordegg
5: Abraham Lake
On the Road: West on Highway 11 from Rocky Mountain House National Historic site for ~110 km gets you to Abraham Lake. Drive: 75 minutes.
Next stop on the itinerary is Alberta’s largest man-made lake. Carpeting the side of David Thompson Highway, this ethereal blue coloured lake caused by glacial silt deposit against the backdrop of snow-covered mountains is a sight to behold. Abraham Lake borders Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve, which is home to abundant wildlife and many species of rare plants. There are multiple hiking options in this area, including the exploring the site of Bighorn Dam and the many trails in the Ecological Reserve. There are multiple turnouts and hiking trail heads along Abraham Lake/Cline River. Stop a while, and enjoy life.
Updates & trail conditions: Here
Make sure that you leave here by 12:00 PM, so that so can explore Icefields Parkway.
6: Icefields Parkway.
Admission: Before entering the Park, you have to purchase the pass at David Thompson Gate (open in summer). Per day – Adult $ 9.80; Senior $ 8.30;Youth $ 4.90; Family/Group $ 19.60
Enjoy nature at its best as you drive one of the best scenic roads in the world. (Detailed Icefields Parkway Guide)
Stop at Columbia Icefield Visitor centre, hike to the toe of the glacier . If you have the budget, join for Brewster Canada’s Glacier Adventure (book in Advance) or visit Glacier Skywalk. Enroute to Jasper town, stop at all the viewpoints of Icefields Parkway. Do not miss Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls.
Do the hikes at both the Falls before continuing to Jasper. From Athabasca Falls, you can take either Highway 93A (closed in winter) or 93 towards Jasper. Wapiti and Whistler campgrounds are on 93. If you spending the night at Jasper town, and visiting during summer, take 93A for a more scenic route.
You have 6 – 8 hours to explore Icefields Parkway.
Day 3: Jasper
Do all or few of the following attractions to capture the essence of Jasper National Park. Throw in a couple of hikes to explore the colourful mosaic ethereal lakes and gigantic peaks. You will also be treated to wildlife grazing on the lush green vegetation of the park.
a. Mt Edith Cavell: The impressive mountain named after Edith Louisa Cavell, (a British nurse who helped war prisoners escape) is the site of Angel glacier that straddles the lower slopes of the mountain. Hike the shorter (1.6 km roundtrip) Path of the Glacier trail to the brilliant green coloured glacier pool backdropped by Angel glacier clinging to the weather battered face of Mt Cavell. Allocate 90 minutes here. Get here before the crowd arrives, so that you will get a good parking spot.
b. Jasper Tramway: Travel up in the tramway to Whistler mountain and revel in the alpine mosaic of mountains, and lakes. Enjoy the easy boardwalk stroll surrounding the upper station. Allocate 90 minutes here. Do this as last part of Icefields Parkway trip (in summer months open till 09:00 PM), if you have less days to spend in Jasper.
Have lunch/brunch at Jasper town.
c. Maligne Lake: Take a boat cruise to Spirit Island, and stroll Mary Schaffer loop that follows Maligne Lake shoreline, imbibing the stunning scenery: azure coloured Lake back dropped by stunning mountain ranges – Maligne range, Mount Charlton and Mount Unwin.
Time required: 1 hour to 2.5 hours depending on whether you take the cruise.
Cost: Hike, free.
d. Medicine Lake: Continue on to Medicine Lake, stop at the road side pull out and learn the geology of the largest inaccessible cave system that causes the ‘Mystery of the Missing Lake’. Allocate: 30 minutes.
e. Maligne Canyon: Hike along the “la traverse maligne” canyon and explore the canyon created by untamed waters. Amble along the weathered path observing agile birds diving into deadly deep canyon till 4th bridge and return. 90 minutes. There is a tea house here.
In late afternoon/evening:
If you like, rent a canoe or paddle boat, head to Pyramid lake, and navigate the lake backdropped by the towering Pyramid mountain. You can also walk along the lake shore to Pyramid lake island. If you have children with you – enjoy beach time at the sandy shores of Pyramid lake. Pyramid lake is also a great location to watch night sky. Jasper National Park is a designated dark sky preserve.
Cost free, pay for canoe rental.
During your visit, if Jasper is all aglow with moon light, consider joining Friends of Jasper National Park on full moon hikes.
Day 4: Jasper & Back to Edmonton
Annette Lake and Edith Lake: Walk part or all of the interpretive 2.4 km paved loop around Lake Annette assimilating the beautiful landscape. Stroll to Edith Lake and take in the scenery. Allocate 1.5 hours.
Explore the site of an old coal mine named after Pocahontas coalfield of Virginia that operated in Jasper during early 1900s. Take the 800 m paved interpretive trail, and see the ruins of the mine site buildings.
The final stop in Jasper before you head back to Edmonton is Miette Hot Springs. The current site of the hot springs was built in 1980s. If you are interested in seeing the old aqua court, hike the ~ 1km trail to the old Aqua court.After the hike and before heading back to Edmonton, enjoy a relaxing soak in the mineral rich hot spring waters. Allocate: 1 – 2 hours.
Cost: Adult (18 – 64 ) : $6.05
Youth (3 – 17 ) $5.15; Senior (65+ ) $5.15
Child ( 3-) :Free; Family (2 +2) $18.35 ,
Bit of adventure:
If you want to add a bit of adventure to the trip, skip sightseeing and join for white water rafting (3 – 5 hours & multiple options available) on Athabasca river or Fraser river. Tours are offered by many tour companies like Maligne Rafting Adventures. After the trip, return to Edmonton.
Cost: $68 /adult and $34 /children under 12 plus & up.
Edmonton To Jasper Trip in Two Days
If you are flying in to Edmonton in the evening, drive straight to Red Deer, stay the night there. In the morning continue to Icefields Parkway (Day 2 itinerary). The next day, explore Jasper , after exploring Maligne Canyon get to Miette Hot springs, relax in the pool and drive back to Edmonton.
For two days & one night itinerary, drive straight to Jasper via Hinton and return via David Thompson Highway. Start exploring Jasper with Maligne Lake cruise. Do Maligne Canyon hike, Mt Edith Cavell, Jasper Tramway and end your day at the hot springs. Next day, do Icefields Parkway and get to Edmonton via David Thomson Highway, north on Cowboy Trail (22). You may follow this itinerary for taking friends and family who come over to visit you in Edmonton.
If you are visiting during winter (late fall to early spring) – Visit Jasper via Hinton.
How to visit Jasper if you do not have a car
1. Via Rail runs service between Edmonton and Jasper for ~ $86 & up.
Getting around inside Jasper
1. Taxi: Mountain Express Taxi Inc
2. Use Sundog Tours guided trips.