The Perfect 2 to 3 Days in Jasper National Park Itinerary

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by Audrey Webster

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Just north of Banff National Park sits Jasper—a less-visited but no less beautiful national park in the Canadian Rockies. Planning a 2 to 3 days in Jasper National Park itinerary is one of the best ways to see this incredible natural area in the mountains of Alberta.

While you could spend an endless amount of time exploring the park and all the natural wonders it has to offer, spending a few days in Jasper is enough to get a feel for the park and the splendors it contains. Whether you’re looking for plenty of hikes or simply want to take in incredible lake and mountain views, visiting Jasper is never a bad idea.

How Many Days in Jasper National Park?

After a quick search to get a sense of all the things to do in Jasper, you’re probably left wondering how many days to spend in the national park to catch the highlights without overextending yourself. If you only have a few days, here’s what you can expect.

If you have 2 days in Jasper, you can catch the park’s most famous highlights. Plan to be met with crowds and spend much of your day driving, but you will see most of the landmarks that make this park spectacular.

With 3 days, you can either see the sights at your leisure or spend the extra day hiking and lounging. There are a number of comfortable mountain lakes and relaxing hot springs to spend a nice afternoon and round out your visit to Jasper.

Maligne Lake & Spirit Island in Jasper NP
Maligne Lake & Spirit Island in Jasper NP

Getting To & Around Jasper National Park 

The two airports nearest Jasper National Park are Calgary International Airport and Edmonton International Airport. Calgary is about a five-hour drive away from the park while Edmonton is four hours away by car.

You can book a shuttle bus from Edmonton to Jasper, but it tends to be expensive and limits your ability to get around the park. Many visitors see Banff National Park in tandem with Jasper, so flying into Calgary and driving through Banff to Jasper makes the most sense.

Keep in mind that you will need to purchase a Park Pass in order to enter Jasper. There are a few different options available that can suit lots of different travel styles and preferences, so make sure to choose which is best for you.

That said, the best way to get around Jasper is with a car. You can rent one at whichever airport you fly into by browsing to compare prices. Alternatively, you can consider renting from Outdoorsy if you prefer an RV or campervan. This grants you the most flexibility to see the park.

You can sign up for tours such as this full-day tour but they usually won’t take you everywhere you might want to go. We highly recommend you rent a car to see through your Jasper itinerary. 

Medicine Lake
Medicine Lake

2 to 3-Day Jasper Itinerary

For your itinerary to feel complete, add some of these highlights to your travel plans. You can adjust the order based on where you’re staying in the park, but the list below contains some of the park’s most impressive landmarks.

Day 1 – Jasper SkyTram, Columbia Icefields & Athabasca Glacier and Falls

Ride the Jasper SkyTram

Welcome yourself to Jasper by taking a ride on the Jasper SkyTram. It’s a quick way to get an early sense of everything Jasper has to offer and you can pre-book tickets here.

From the top, you’ll get panoramic views of the Rockies. You can see the town of Jasper, the Athabasca River, surrounding mountain ranges, and much more.

Take your time walking along the boardwalk with several options for viewpoints or relax in the restaurant. You can go on a short hike to the top of Whistlers Mountain. Bear in mind that the SkyTram is usually only operational from March to October, weather permitting. 

Columbia Icefields 

The Columbia Icefields never fail to impress their visitors. It sits along the Icefields Parkway, the highway that runs through Banff and Jasper, connecting the two parks. The icefields include several major glaciers with a few ways to get excellent views.

First, is from the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center. If you want to hike to a viewpoint, consider the Toe of the Glacier trail for a close-up view of Wilcox Pass for a bird’s-eye view.

You can also stop by the Columbia Icefield Skywalk—a glass-floored lookout that gives viewers a look over Sunwapta Valley and nearby glaciers.

Icefields Parkway
Icefields Parkway

Athabasca Glacier

It’s worth it to call out one glacier in particular: Athabasca Glacier. It’s one of the most-visited glaciers in North America and it’s the lowest tip of the Columbia Icefields. During peak travel seasons, Athabasca Glacier sees a lot of tourists.

You can walk right up to the base of the glacier or you can hop on a trail nearby to get away from the crowds for a broader view. During the hikes we recommended viewing the Columbia Icefields, you’ll also get good views of Athabasca Glacier. 

Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls is located on the upper Athabasca River, just south of the town of Jasper. There are various viewing platforms and walking trails so you can experience the falls from several angles.

The waterfall was created when the Athabasca Valley Glacier receded, revealing a cavernous landscape that pushed tons of water through.

In total, the falls are about 79 feet, with several tiers of drops. By far the best time to visit is in the early spring when snowmelt sends water pummeling over the falls. 

Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls

Day 2 – Maligne Lake and Canyon, Pyramid Lake & Medicine Lake

Maligne Lake and Spirit Island

If you want to start your second day on a slower note, head over the Maligne Lake. This is the largest lake in the Canadian Rockies, with stunning views of forests, mountains, and the crystal clear lake all around. The drive to this lake along the Maligne Lake Road is one of the most scenic in the entire park, with incredible views and jaw-dropping overlooks to see along the way.

One of the most popular ways to explore the lake is by boat. The boat tour takes you around the lake to point out unique geographical features and the history of the area. You’ll also make a short stop at Spirit Island. You can take a walk along the short trail around the island before heading back to the boat.

The photo of Spirit Island surrounded by the lake and mountains is one of the most iconic images of Jasper. 

For those after an easy and beautiful hike in the area, also consider the Moose Lake Loop, which is a family-friendly circular route. The trailhead is located close to the boat launch area, so this is something you can easily combine with a cruise on the lake.

Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake is a popular and easy stop along the route to Maligne Lake. Its smooth waters reflect the mountains and trees surrounding it. The lake is fed by glacial water, filling it with crystal clear water. Medicine Lake has earned the nickname “disappearing lake” because of an underground drainage system.

There are sinkholes at the bottom of the lake that drain the water through caves before resurfacing about ten miles downriver. It’s a natural wonder, beautiful site to behold, and an excellent spot for looking for wildlife.

The best time to spot wildlife is early in the morning or at dusk. Elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, bears, and moose are all common sightings throughout the park. You can also choose to go on a wildlife tour to explore with a guide.

Medicine Lake
Beautiful Medicine Lake

Maligne Canyon

Here is one of Jasper National Park’s most unique features. This narrow gorge stretches more than 160 feet in some places. Its limestone walls have been carved by the powerful Maligne River. It’s a scenic area to go on a hike along the interpretive trail.

It’s a fenced path that runs along the cliffside. You’ll cross bridges that span the canyon creating excellent vantage points over the fast-flowing river below. The canyon is especially impressive during winter.

The water freezes over to cover the gorge in ice. You can take an ice walk to see it up close and personal. But the canyon is beautiful all year round.

Pyramid Lake and Island

The little island on Pyramid Lake is an unexpected favorite for many Jasper visitors. It also happens to be one of the most iconic photo ops in the entire park.

Pyramid Lake is a calm, kidney bean-shaped lake at the base of Pyramid Mountain. Its smooth waters create a mirror reflection of the surrounding landscape. This makes it a great spot to swim on a warm day or pause for an afternoon picnic.

To reach Pyramid Island, you’ll cross a narrow wooden bridge over a shallow section of the lake. 

And if you haven’t had enough lakes for the day, then consider heading a little bit away from Pyramid Lake to the beautiful Lake Edith and Lake Annette, two more incredible bodies of water nestled in the Rockies.

Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake

Day 3 – Sunwapta Falls and Valley, Cavell Meadows, Miette Hot Springs & Lac Beauvert

Sunwapta Falls and Valley

You’ll see a lot of Sunwapta Valley as you’re making your way through Jasper National Park, but Sunwapta Falls is another beautiful waterfall you’ll find in Jasper. It was created by a hanging valley.

This is a place where two valleys, one deeper than the other, collided to create a sharp drop in the landscape. At Athabasca Falls, Chaba Valley and Athabasca Valley met.

You can visit Sunwapta Falls alone or head out on the trail to visit the lesser-trafficked Lower Sunwapta Falls or hike into the backcountry. Like all waterfalls in the park, the most impressive time to visit is during the spring.

Sunwapta Falls
Sunwapta Falls

Cavell Meadows

The hike through Cavell Meadows is a perfect mash-up of everything Jasper has to offer over a few-mile hike. Before you go, know that because it’s a hike of moderate difficulty and offers beautiful scenery, it does tend to be popular.

Try to be on the trail earlier in the day. That said, along this hike, you pass by alpine meadows, wildflowers, Angel Glacier, and Cavell Pond, with stunning views of Mt. Edith Cavell. You can expect to run into some wildlife here as well. Marmots and pikas are common. 

Miette Hot Springs

What better way to conclude seeing Jasper in 3 days by relaxing in hot springs? After you’ve walked many miles and taken in all the park’s stunning beauty, head over to Fiddle Valley where you’ll find Miette Hot Springs.

These outdoor pools are located high in the hills, granting visitors exceptional views while they enjoy the warmest natural hot springs in the Rockies. The water emerges from the ground at 54°C (129°F) and is cooled to 40°C (104°F) before being funnelled into the pool.

The pools are generally open from May to October but double-check before your visit. 

Road to Miette Hot Springs
Road to Miette Hot Springs

Lac Beauvert

If you have time to spare on your last day in Jasper, visit Lac Beauvert. It’s convenient to reach if you’re staying in the town of Jasper as it’s located near the Jasper Park Lodge. You can explore the lake in multiple ways.

First, you have the option of hiking around the lake on the Lac Beauvert Trail. This entirely forested trail circles the lake and stretches just over two miles long. Alternatively, you can rent a kayak, paddle board, or pedal boat to see the lake and surrounding landscape from the water.

It’s quiet, serene, and relaxing. The Jasper Planetarium is also located on the lakeshore. 

Have More Time?

Spend an afternoon or morning wandering around the townsite of Jasper. It was formerly a railroad hub, but Jasper is now a charming town filled with bakeries, restaurants, and cafes.

If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into the local cuisine, you can sign up for a food tour to taste some of the highlights. You also could opt to visit nearby Patricia Lake if you haven’t had enough of gorgeous lakes on your trip.

Mount Robson is the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies and just a short day trip from Jasper. Mount Robson Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers guests an exceptional visitor’s center where you can enjoy nice views of the mountain and surrounding landscape.

There are several options throughout the park to see it from the water as well. You can rent a canoe, kayak, or paddle board to explore one of the lakes. Another option is taking a rafting tour on the Athabasca River, with a few exciting rapids and tons of stunning viewpoints.

Mount Robson
Mount Robson

Where to Stay in Jasper

Mount Robson Inn – This 3-star hotel in downtown Jasper is a great option for mid-range visitors to the national park. They have a number of great rooms to choose from, a perfect location for exploring all the area has to offer and gorgeous mountain views from all rooms.

Miette Hot Springs Bungalows – These cosy bungalows are an excellent choice for those looking for a private yet luxe place to stay when visiting Jasper. Located outside the town of Jasper, there are a range of bungalows to choose from and plenty of wonderful amenities available to guests.

Private Rental – Those looking for their own space while they visit Jasper National Park will find an array of private rentals available in the area. There are properties to suit all kinds of visitors – such as this two-bedroom apartment in the town of Jasper.

HI Jasper – Budget travelers will love this hostel located in the center of the town of Jasper. Offering both dorms and private rooms, they have great common areas with a cosy fireplace and chalet-style feel.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Jasper hotels!

It goes without saying, but Jasper is full of beautiful lakes, mountains, waterfalls, and canyons to explore. Just a short time in Jasper couldn’t possibly capture everything the park has to offer. We hope this Jasper itinerary gives you plenty of options for what to do on your trip to Jasper National Park. Enjoy your trip!

Are you planning to visit Jasper? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Audrey Webster is a writer for The World Was Here First. She is an Oregon native who has visited countries across the globe and currently spends her weekends exploring the Pacific Northwest and surrounding states. Her approach to traveling combines exploring famous tourist sites and wandering off the beaten path to discover new destinations.

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