Taking in the view at Athabasca Falls (photo: Adam Greenberg/Parks Canada)

Rocky Mountain High: How to Embrace Nature and Nurture in Jasper National Park

By Shawna Dierksen

A nature-lover’s paradise between the Yellowhead Highway and Icefields Parkway, the largest national park in the Rockies is a low-key tourist destination with high-calibre adventures and amenities.

Learn: See the stars through a whole new lens at the Jasper Planetarium. An astronomer-led tour lets guests view the heavens above the world’s second largest dark sky preserve through the biggest telescope in the Rockies. 1 Old Lodge Rd.

Relax: Visit Jasper for the views; stay for the brews and food. Jasper Brewing Co. is the park’s popular brewpub—and Canada’s first brewery
in a national park. Choose from seven signature beers, including the unique Babe Blueberry Vanilla Ale. 624 Connaught Dr.

Dine: Steps from its namesake trailhead, Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen is well worth the 10-km trek from the Jasper townsite. The modern-rustic smokehouse overlooks the canyon and serves up locally sourced dishes perfect for pre- or post-hike. Maligne Lake Rd.

Shop: Find a cool keepsake that doesn’t scream “souvenir” at Ransom. With fashion-forward, mountain-inspired clothing and accessories—including an in-house brand featuring work by local artists—there’s something stylish for everyone. 609 Patricia St.

Moustached Mountain Guide Norm Bergen

Almost every summer of his life, Norm Bergen travelled from his home in Saskatchewan to Jasper National Park—to camp, hike and enjoy the Rockies with his family. In 2017, Bergen retired and bought property in the mountains. Now he explores the region’s landscape and shares its rich history as a guide for SunDog Tour Co., and as the “Moustached Mountain Guide” on YouTube. 

What do you love most about the park?
I love that it belongs to everyone—to all Canadians. The beauty and glory of the mountains is incredible. It’s impossible to explain, you just have to go out there and experience it for yourself. You’ll find nothing but tremendous beauty no matter where you look. 

Discover a hiker’s haven in David Thompson Country

What’s your favourite spot in Jasper?
I love them all! Spirit Island in Maligne Lake is precious. It’s said to be inhabited by the ghost of an Indigenous man who awaits the return of his long-lost love, like a First Nations Romeo and Juliet story. Then you have Medicine Lake, which isn’t a lake at all; rather, it’s a sinking river and one of only a few in the world. And there’s Pyramid Lake, Patricia Lake and Mount Edith Cavell—they’re all so unique and gorgeous to look at. 

What else should visitors do?
When you come to Jasper, start with the town itself. It’s where all your adventures begin. Strong hikers can visit “the old man on the mountain,” which is really neat to see, especially from Lac Beauvert near Jasper Park Lodge. In spring, the colours are fabulous and the hiking gets more accessible. If you’re more adventurous, there’s rafting on the Jasper and Athabasca rivers. The rapids are tremendous in spring. 

A family stroll near Maligne Lake (photo: Norm Bergen)

Jasper is budding with one-of-a-kind adventures

• Melting snow and April showers set Jasper’s world-class waterfalls to full flow—and they’ll leave you overflowing with awe. Head down the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) to visit Athabasca Falls, then continue on for another 25 km to find Sunwapta Falls. 

Things to do in
Crowsnest Pass

• Spring is ideal for wildlife spotting. Elk, moose, bighorn sheep, bears, wolves and more roam the peaks and valleys and drink from crisp rivers and lakes. SunDog Tour Co., Maligne Adventures and Jasper Adventure Centre all offer wildlife tours. 

• Enjoy a soothing soak and sense of renewal after your adventuring. Embark on a scenic drive through the Fiddle Valley to Miette Hot Springs, the hottest mineral springs in the Rockies. (The springs closed in 2020 due to COVID-19; check ahead to ensure it has reopened as planned.) AMA members save 15% on admission.