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Jasper National Park

Posted in Alberta, Canada

The entrance to Jasper National Park (World Heritage Site) is at the Columbia Ice Fields and you can see one of the glaciers from the visitor center.  You can take a tour bus onto the glacier or you can take guided hike. The visitor center was extremely crowded and we didn’t stay too long before heading into town.

We were quite surprised when we arrived in Jasper as the town is much bigger than we thought.  We imagined a sleepy, little town in the wilderness, but it seems to be almost as big as Banff.  Tons of shopping and restaurants and our cabin has an amazing setting along the Athabasca River.  There are also tons of places to access the Internet and we even found some wireless spots.  Yeah!

The forecast for weather this week is not great and today was supposed to be the better of the days so we decided to get a couple of hikes in. The first was to Stanley Falls and it was such a wonderful hike because we did not see a single person. After the crowds at Lake Louise and the Ice Fields it’s nice to get away. It’s a beautiful hike along a narrow canyon with about eight waterfalls. Our second hike was to Lower Sunwapta Falls. The first part of the hike is crowded as this is a stop on the tour bus route, but once you get past the first falls we barely saw anyone.

We finally spotted some wildlife! It’s amazing how visible the wildlife was in Glacier and how little we have seen in Banff and Jasper. Tomorrow Brendan is rafting the Mighty Fraser and I am going to explore the town of Jasper.

Last night after dinner we took a drive to Pyramid Lake and we spotted a herd of elk along the road. Today was a big elk sighting day because when we got back to the cabin there was an elk in front of the front office building. Unfortunately a tourist did not show any respect towards the wildlife, she was about three feet from the elk trying to get her picture. The elk was getting very upset and was clearly showing signs of distress but the lady just did not understand how powerful and dangerous wild animals are. She’s extremely lucky she did not get hurt!

Today we decided to drive back to the Columbia Ice Field for a hike to Wilcox Pass which overlooks the Columbia Ice Field and several glaciers. On our drive we spotted a bunch of cars on the side of the road (a clear sign of a wildlife spotting) and there was a bear on the side of the road eating. Her baby cub was up in a tree! I could only get the back side of the cub and we couldn’t figure out if it was stuck or sleeping, but the mother didn’t seem too concerned about it. After our hike we decided to walk to the tongue of the Athabascus Glacier.

We absolutely loved Jasper National Park and will definitely be back!

Jen & Brendan {August 2008}