After driving up the Icefields Parkway, we settled into our hotel in Jasper, the Best Western Inn & Suites, which had a sizeable indoor pool and hot tub, along with a very good restaurant that was exceptional at catering to my gluten free needs. The Inn Restaurant at the hotel was able to provide a number of dishes that I greatly enjoyed during our stay. The room was simple and outdated, but comfortable and clean. We were excited that other members of our crew from the wedding were also staying in Jasper at the same time we were, so we decided to do the Jasper Skytram together and then have dinner. The Skytram was fun, but with cloudy weather we couldn’t see that much or get the same quality of pictures that we got when we took the Banff Gondola.
The next day we decided to do a hike and followed a recommendation to check out the Valley of the Five Lakes. This is a MUST SEE for anyone visiting the region. It’s a stunning loop that hits (yes, five) lakes, all very picturesque. The hike itself is a manageable 4.5km, taking about two hours to complete (even with picture breaks). We sat in the red chairs by one of the lakes and had some great conversations with other tourists. Afterwards I spent a few hours studying while my aunt went on a solo venture to Miette Hot Springs, which she said was very friendly and a beautiful drive from Jasper, also apparently substantially less crowded than Banff Upper Hot Springs.
Hiking the Valley of five Lakes. Photos by Lisette and Martje
One of the “can’t miss” attractions in Jasper is Maligne Lake and Spirit Island. You take a bit of a drive to get to Maligne (pro tip: go early for good parking), and then you arrive at the very large glacial-fed lake, which hosts a few restaurants, a boating center and several tour boats to take you to Spirit Island. The very informative tour guide let us know that people frequently kayak camp out on the lake, and took us to a dock next to Spirit Island – which tourists are not allowed to step on. Spirit Island is protected and only permitted for use once a year for native Canadian tribes. We enjoyed a great photo opp near the island and headed back to the lodge for a short hike around Moose Lake (sadly, didn’t see a moose).
After our packed journey, we then drove back down the Icefields Parkway and passed by the Yamnuska Wolf-dog Sanctuary on our way to Calgary. A tip for visitors, if you want an up close and personal encounter with the dogs – make a reservation in advance. This is a very popular sanctuary and the good tours are general full in advance. The dogs here are kept in large paddocks with plenty of room to roam comfortably, within the safety of the sanctuary.
In Calgary we stayed at the Hyatt Regency in downtown, enjoying fun restaurants nearby, before heading out for an early flight in the morning. All in all this was a fantastic trip with wonderful friends highly recommended road trip for any adventure travel folks! Going in the fall shoulder season will help you avoid the worst of the crowds and mosquitoes, but keep in mind that you’ll need larger groups for hiking due to high bear activity and may not want to camp.