Last summer Mike and I took our two younger babes on a roadtrip to explore the Rocky Mountains through Jasper. Jasper is such a beautiful place and I never get sick of the scenery. I have made this trip several times with my family as a child and really wanted Mike to experience the trip as he is an avid hunter and forager and I knew how much he would appreciate all the wildlife and beauty that Jasper has to offer.
We set out to make the trip as frugal as possible by planning to use our van as our camper and avoid spending too much money on food or hotels. We planned for four days in the park and packed two coolers of food to take with us, as well as pillows and blankets to sleep with in our van.
Apart from gas, we spent less than $400 dollars in the park. This was to cover swimming at hot springs, two nights at paid campgrounds, and the Skytram tickets (which totalled some $210) with a $40 lunch at the Summit Restaraunt which was a totally cool experience; feeling like you’re floating atop Whistler’s Mountain. The Skytram was definitely a highlight of the trip.
As soon as we entered the park, after a 7-hour drive from our home in the Peace River Valley, our first stop was at Miette Hot Springs to stretch out or legs and soak in the naturally heated pool.
We were kindly welcomed by the locals and they didn’t care that we were dressed in pyjamas.
Miette is a beautiful hot spring in Jasper with a walking trail that leads along the natural spring run-off and past the pool-house that was originally built when Miette was first developed for tourism. Made entirely of stone and concrete, it’s ruins look almost medieval. Some of the area is gated for safety reasons; other areas are still accessible.
You can get right up close to see (and smell) the hot sulphurous spring water bubbling directly from the mountains’ outer edge as it joins the nearly frozen alpine run-off to continue down along Sulphur Creek.
Mike decided early on in the trip that he would be dipping himself in every body of water that we stopped to see. I lovingly hashtagged his efforts #hypothermike after he made his first move into this icy creek alongside the walking path.
The view along the walk was breath-taking
After a dip and a stretch at Miette, we followed google maps to Snaring River over-flow campground and set up a modest camp to get us though our first night. Free camping in a national park is a pretty big deal! We had dinner- some sandwich wraps that we had packed in our coolers. It was handy that I was still nursing baby because he didn’t need a lot of fussing over when it came to eating.
We unrolled our foam mat and set our pillows and blankets up in the van, got the kids snuggled in with a movie on the DVD player then Mike and I unfolded our camping chairs to sit and breath the air and take in the scenery. You forget how busy and complicated life is when you sit in a valley surrounded by nothing but mountains and fresh air.
Day 2 started off with an adventure at Maligne Canyon. There are multiple hiking routes of varying difficulty and we inadvertently chose one of the hardest ones. It turned out okay though, because we also ended up getting to see the most beautiful aspects of the canyon.
After the hike, we took a rainy drive through the Jasper area to explore the roadsides and check out the sites. We didn’t get out much due to having a little baby and the bad weather so we just scoped out some areas we would add to tomorrows’ adventure list.
After another overnight at Snaring Overflow campground, we set out to Whistlers Mountain for the Skytram experience. Although it is a bit pricey to take a family on the Skytram, the experience was well worth it. The weather was a bit better and the wait time was short.
The ride up was a bit nerve-wracking but spectacular. The views were incomparable.
Mike and Kaisley taking it all in:
Of course I got interested in the small things, like the mushroom and plant species growing on the summit of the mountain.
We ate lunch at the Summit Restaurant which overhangs the mountain and is tucked between the coming and going tram cables. you see new visitors arriving to the summit from directly outside your window as you eat lunch. Kaisley loved it.
I managed to snap a few photos on our way back down the mountain. You can see the shadow of our cab on the treetops as we descended back to the main chalet.
And the next visitors to the summit as they went by:
On day 2, we stayed in a paid campground with showers so we could get properly cleaned up and more comfortably settled for a good rest before heading on to Lake Louise the following day.
We were not prepared for the level of traffic and lineups at Lake Louise. We had been on schedule to get there by around 11 am, but by the time we finally inched our way in to the parking lots, we had been idling in a traffic lineup on the highway for three hours and it was getting late. Of course, when we got there, Mike had to dive in to the lake. Lake Louise is as cold as water can get without being ice; and Mike is crazy.
We didn’t even enter the hotel because the crowds were so heavy that day. We just walked the shoreline and visited with the tourists before strolling back through the parking lot, over one of the bridges, and to check out some local infographics and the structures displaying them.
We had originally planned to only visit Jasper, but decided to move through to Banff park for a day to check out the scenery. We ended up setting up camp there for a night before heading back to Jasper the following day. We definitely need to return to Banff soon to explore all it has to offer too.
For dinner, we ate the soup that I had packed frozen and had finally began to thaw in the cooler. I also had packed dry bannock mix and margarine, so we fried up bannock on the fire to go with the soup.
On the way back, we stopped to check out Sunwapta Canyon.
We spent the evening strolling around the town of Banff and just enjoying being tourists.
On the drive back, we stopped at every body of water, rest stop, and sight there was to see. We spent the whole day stopping to get closer views of everything. There’s literally something amazing to see every few minutes on the drive through Jasper and Banff national parks. I collected some keepsakes from a mountain runoff creek and we snapped photos of some of the wildlife hanging out alongside the highway.
And, of course, Mike stopped to dip himself into a few lakes and rivers.
We took a rest at the Columbia Ice Fields to see the glacier and caught a photo of one of the Jurassic Parks Rental vehicles which I thought was hilarious!
Our water supply for the entire trip was water collected into our big water cooler from local streams. You can see Mike here refilling the cooler beneath a water fall.
And of course, taking a dip in the adjacent lake:
On the final night, we walked the Jasper boulevard, had some ice-cream, and picked up a case of local beer to bring with us back to the Snaring Overflow Campground.
The next day we woke and headed home (with several stops at parks and pull-outs of course)
Roadtripping Jasper was most certainly a worthwhile trip and we will definitely be doing it again in the near future. There’s so much to see and do that you can’t possibly pack it into a single four day trip.
If you enjoy nature, scenery, wildlife, exploring and adventure, I definitely recommend taking a trip through Jasper National Park! There’s nothing more beautiful or invigorating than planting your feet in the middle of the Rocky Mountains and taking in the air, the views and the whole experience of being human in such a big beautiful world.