Jasper National Park- Away from Thronging Crowds

Totem by major railway lines which worked during the night too. Jasper AB 2019. Photo by J.Chong

If you really want to avoid wilderness national park tourist craziness, go to Jasper in early October.  Be warned:  I’ve never been there during summer and don’t feel like going there then, to challenge my own claim.

Going through Rockies towards Jasper via Banff National Park. Alberta 2019. Photo by J.Chong

Just know that Banff National Park received a bumper crop of all-time high of tourists 2018-2019 (data probably cover Apr. 1018-Mar. 2019) over 4 million, while 300 kms. north, Jasper got 2.4 million visitors.

Approximately 20 km. south of Jasper –no snow compared to Lake Louise and Banff which are 200 km. south. Alberta Oct. 2019. Photo by J.Chong

So we set off by bus, over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in mid-October when a lot of the autumn tree colour had faded. Hotel rates were cheaper.  Not a huge deal, since magnificent mountains along the trip were always there.

Bighorn sheep art adorn children’s playground. Town of Jasper 2019. Photo by J.Chong

Enroute, at the Columbia Icefields where the famous bowl-shaped mountain glacier looms ahead, a woman mused wistfully how much of the glacier had disappeared from when she last saw it over 30 years ago.

Columbia Icefield..a shrinking mountain glacier which normally receives many tourist groups. Jasper National Park, AB 2019. Photo by J.Chong

We climbed out for a short 10 min. scamper onto the wintery snow dusted walk bridge, to snap a few shots.

At Jasper, we marvelled over the lack of snow during that time, warmer air compared to Lake Louise in Banff National Park.  Parks Canada staff confirmed this for us.

Stopping by Athabasca River on historic bridge. Jasper National Park 2019. Photo by J.Chong

So we rented mountain bikes for short rolls outside of the town.

Going up rocky lookout point. Jasper National Park 2019. Photo by J.Chong

We wandered up the de rigeur Fort lookout rock point and short hiking trail overlooking the pristine blue-green Athabasca River winding to the north.

Athabasca River winds through Jasper National Park 2019. Photo by J.Chong
Sweeping view of mountains and Athabasca River. Jasper National Park 2019. Photo by J.Chong

Sweeping views like this, underscore just how much of Canada’s land so much is still wilderness.  In a few weeks, no doubt people will hang here at night and hope for possible flicker of northern lights. Jasper is promoted as having expansive night sky for star-gazing and northern lights.

Hiking along Maligne River Canyon. Jasper National Park 2019. Photo by J.Becker
Maligne Canyon. Jasper National Park, AB 2019. Photo by J.Chong

After some broken sleep for me due to Canadian Rail freight trains shunting during the night, across from the hotel, we biked off a few kilometres to Maligne Canyon.  We spotted a few elk  near our quiet road since it was elk rutting season where the males mate and are aggressive. I took off while Jack snapped a few photos.

Aqua turquoise purity of Maligne River. Jasper National Park 2019. Photo by J.Chong

We hiked the quiet  path along the Maligne Canyon and could see the turquoise Maligne River tumbling northward deep in the canyon.   Like a long ruffled aqua silk scarf, buffeted by limestone rocks, the clear river twisted through the limestone rock cleavage. The lightly crisp air was peaceful and fresh with a hint of evergreen.

Walking towards Athabasca River through a field. Jasper National Park 2019. Photo by J.Chong
Limestone rock walls rise with turquoise glacial water pooling in corners. Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park 2019. Photo by J.Chong
Elk munching by roadside, while cycling to Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park 2019. Photo by J.Becker

We dropped by the Jasper Yellowhead Historical Society Museum where display photos featured amongst the miners,  a Silk Train that Canadian National Railway ran this far north in Canada from Vancouver to Ontario to ship silk from Japan.  Prior to CNR was the Intercolonial Railway line that ran over 1,000 km in this area and into the U.S.

Logo for this railway line than ran over 1,000 km in this area and into the U.S. before it became part of the Canadian National Railway. Japser-Yellowhead Historical Society Museum 2019. Photo by J.Chong
Silk train was run by Canadian National Railway with precious silks from Japan. The train came from Vancouver and had priority service over other freight trains at the time. Jasper-Yellowhead Historical Society Museum 2019. Photo by J.Chong

Later we relaxed for our Thanksgiving dinner at restaurant, facing the mountains as the sun dipped slowly, burnishing the mountains and town with its fall golden touch.

Bird by river. Jasper National Park 2019. Photo by J.Becker
Water tumbling through rocks. Malgne Canyon, Jasper National Park 2019. Photo by J.Chong
Daybreak along highway before Lake Louise from Jasper to Calgary. 2019. Photo by J.Chong

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Pit says:

    How absolutely wonderful! Thanks for taking me there! 🙂 Now that really is a gorgeous area, and the pictures are fantastic.
    Have a great weekend,
    Pit

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      A different view of Jasper since others might be more accustomed to photos with more mountains. Happy 2020!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pit says:

        Thanks, and to you, too.

        Like

  2. Marta says:

    Great pictures, as usual! Your posts always make me want to go to Canada asap, hehe. I’ll have to wait until my son is a bit older.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Well, you know who to contact for more advice or at least plough through a blog.

      Like

  3. Excellent adventure! I used to live in Jasper national park and always found the quiet of shoulder season to be my favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Would have been interesting living in a national park.

      Like

  4. Sue Slaght says:

    Jean I truly enjoyed this tour around Jasper. We haven’t spent much time there. Now with the pandemic I think exploring areas like this will be our new travel. I’m looking forward to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      In retrospect, I’m glad we went to Jasper last fall. 🙂 We went during a quieter time of year –tourist-wise.

      Liked by 1 person

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