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A Guide to Visiting Jasper National Park

If you are going to visit, or work in Canada, then you have to consider Jasper National Park as your home away from home. Check our travel tips guide.

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A Guide to Visiting Jasper National Park

Visiting Jasper National Park, Edge of the World Jasper

Visiting Jasper National Park

Where do I begin? What is the best part of visiting Jasper National Park?

The awe-inspiring jagged mountains, the abundance of wildlife, the picture perfect lakes or the fact that it is an adventure lovers dream? Around every corner in Jasper National Park is a view worthy of a postcard and there is always something to keep you entertained.

Living in Jasper National Park for a year was hands down one of the best experiences of my life. As a city girl the prospect of moving to a town with a population of just under 5,000 was a little worrying. However I could not have chosen a better place to start my Overseas Experience with Cole.

Jasper is located in the largest National Park in the Canadian Rockies and over 2 million tourists every year flock to Jasper from all corners of the world. Most of them come to experience the adventure activities on offer.

Visiting Jasper National Park,Fishing in Pyramid Lake Jasper

With 10,878 square kilometers of mountain wilderness and a world class ski resort, Jasper boasts an unlimited amount of adventure activities to experience. You name it they got it: Hiking, Mountain Biking, Cliff Diving and Lake Swimming, Fishing, Kayaking, White Water Rafting, Snowboarding and Skiing, Wildlife watching and more.

And the best thing about the park is that these activities are not just designed for pros as there is something for everyone at every level. In fact, Jasper not only introduced me to mountain biking, it made it one of my passions.

Visiting Jasper National Park for the first time brings a new meaning to the word insignificant. You crane your neck to take in the rugged snow-capped mountains that loom over you from every angle and you realize just how small you are compared to the stunning environment.

One of my favourite things about visiting Jasper National Park is that the landscape differs dramatically from winter to summer which adds to the magic of the place. In winter the ground is blanketed in snow as far as the eye can see.

Visiting Jasper National Park, Moon Athabasca River

Rivers and lakes disappear under layers of blinding white snow and ice and you almost feel as if you are stuck in a giant snow globe. It is as if you are cut off from every other place in the world, surrounded by miles of snow covered wilderness. In fact sometimes you are as the snow falls so softly but in such quantities that the roads can be closed.

As the temperatures rise and the snow slowly begins to melt the park transforms. After months of white being the dominant sight you are suddenly greeted by bursts of color. Emerald lakes, lush green forests, an array of different color rock formations.

Visiting Jasper National Park, Swimming and Cliff Diving Horseshoe Lake

And do not even get me started on the flowers!  It’s as if the locals in Jasper try to make up for the months without color by hanging or standing flower pots in every possible location.

Wildlife in Jasper National Park

In summer the wildlife comes out to play. Elk, Caribou, Moose, Deer, Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, Grizzly and Black Bears, Beaver, Hoary Marmot, Wolves, Coyotes, Mountain Lions and Wolverines all roam the streets. Literally roam the streets…

On every walk or bike ride we were guaranteed to see some wild animals. There is nothing like careening down a hill on your bike before riding through a large herd of deer grazing between the woods.

Not so fun when it’s a mother bear and her cubs!

The Elk often wander through town as if they own the place and it is not unusual to see one cheekily hanging out in your back yard.

Visiting Jasper National Park

At least they obey the road rules

Tourists are always warned of the dangers of wildlife especially when out on the Hiking and Biking trails. Unfortunately these warnings often fall on deaf ears and it’s not unusual to see an ignorant tourist less than a meter from an elk with their camera stuck rudely in their face.  We have even seen some step out of their car to try and get closer to a bear!

While the park is a tourism hot spot, Jasper National Park has managed to keep its small town charm unlike its big brother Banff which is crawling with tourists and chain stores just 4 hours away.

Jasper has a very relaxed and friendly feel to it.

Locals make a point to spend time chatting to each other from their cars while driving down the roads. Kids can be heard laughing and shrieking as they toboggan down hills and during winter there is a free community dinner in the town hall every Sunday for everyone (donations appreciated).

Oh, and get this, McDonalds left the town after the locals boycotted it for being too commercial!

Where to eat in Jasper National Park

Not only does the town offer a variety of outdoor activities but there is also a lot of excellent wining and dining to be done. I’m sure the plethora of restaurants and bars could accommodate the permanent residents of Jasper ten times over. There are some top quality restaurants in town as well as cute local cafes and bars. Do keep in mind it is a tourist town so it can be a bit pricey in some places.

Must eat’s are the Bears Paw Bakery (cabinets full of sweet treats), Wings Wednesdays at the Sawridge Hotel (a hot spot for seasonal workers as you can get 20 chicken wings for $2.50 and very cheap jugs of Kokanee beer) and Tonquin Prime Rib Village for a tasty steak as it says on the tin. To wash it down then explore Jasper’s own Brewing Company which brews specialty beers unique to Jasper with Honey Beer their most popular.

Wings Wednesday Jasper National Park

To sum up this fantastic town; if you are looking for a life changing work experience or even an unforgettable holiday then Jasper is the place to go. We dare you to find anyone who would not love it!

We have loads of posts from our time there so make sure you keep checking back or read some of our existing posts from our life in Jasper National Park:

Snowboarding at Marmot Basin Ski Area

White Water Rafting in Jasper National Park

Maligne Canyon

Adela is one half of the New Zealand Adventure Couple who have been travelling since 2009. She loves the outdoors and has a real passion for Snowboarding, Mountain Biking and Surfing (apart from being scared of sharks). She loves food and writes all our food posts. Consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Bret@ Green Global Travel

    December 16, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    Sounds like a great experience! I grew up in the city as well, but I always find myself more at peace when I’m out in the middle of nature.

    • Cole and Adela (fourjandals)

      December 16, 2011 at 7:47 PM

      Thanks Bret it really was. We feel the same about being “one” with nature. At the moment we are enjoying living in Edinburgh but only because we can get out of the city within about 10 minutes. We wouldn’t be able to live in one that was any bigger because we would feel claustrophobic I think.

  2. Pete Heck

    December 16, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    Nice! Many times Jasper was a destination of mine growing up in Edmonton. If I had to choose between Banff and Jasper, Jasper would win hands-down.

    • Cole and Adela (fourjandals)

      December 16, 2011 at 7:45 PM

      Lucky you being raised in Edmonton Pete… Just teasing we loved the World’s largest mall! I spent a month next to it in the hospital unfortunately. We wish we could go back to Jasper it was amazing.

  3. Natalie

    December 16, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    In a way it is nice to read about a place where animals and humans live side by side. Sure they may be wild but I read so many stories where animals are pushed out of their habitat by humans.

    • Cole and Adela (fourjandals)

      December 16, 2011 at 7:48 PM

      It is amazing being able to look out your back window and literally have an Elk eating out of your garden! Also a little bit scary haha. The locals are really passionate about Jasper and keeping it natural. They have halted all land expansion and you are not allowed to build outside of the existing development boundaries so then animals habitats won’t be destroyed. Pretty neat!

  4. Nomadic Samuel

    December 16, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    I often visited Jasper when I went to university in Edmonton. You picked a great place to spend a year!

    • Cole and Adela (fourjandals)

      December 18, 2011 at 1:03 PM

      Lucky that you got to visit a lot. Being from NZ we think a long drive is about 2 hours but it’s funny how in Canada 4 hours from Edmonton to Jasper is nothing due to the size!

  5. Bohemian Trails

    December 17, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    Great post guys! Living in NYC, sometimes I really just crave some one on one time with nature.

    • Cole and Adela (fourjandals)

      December 18, 2011 at 1:06 PM

      We love NYC. Spent 5 days there last year and wish we could go back again soon. It is nice visiting giant cities after living in a smaller town but that one on one time is just such an amazing experience. Would choose it every time if we could 🙂

  6. dtravelsround

    December 17, 2011 at 9:53 PM

    I love that the local Mc’s went away b/c it was too commercial. There are only two places in the world where I did not see a McDonalds — Rwanda and Bosnia. I’m glad it doesn’t exist everywhere!

    • Cole and Adela (fourjandals)

      December 18, 2011 at 1:08 PM

      Unfortunately they still had a KFC and Pizza Hut so they hadn’t totally won. You can definitely tell how remote places are by whether they have Macca’s or not haha. And super jealous of you travelling to Rwanda and Bosnia.

  7. AlexBerger

    December 18, 2011 at 11:34 PM

    That elk shot had me laughing out loud. Great shot!

  8. Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    December 19, 2011 at 1:20 AM

    That looks stunning. Great overall guide. I can’t believe the color of the water there.

  9. Laurel

    December 23, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    I love Jasper, but unfortunately have only been as a visitor not a resident. I find I see a lot more wildlife in Jasper than I do in Banff as well, although I’m partial to the peaks in Banff.

    • Cole and Adela (fourjandals)

      December 23, 2011 at 1:32 PM

      Don’t get us wrong we love Banff as well but definitely preferred Jasper. I think you see more wildlife because it is a LOT quieter than Banff so they probably don’t feel as threatened.

  10. Abby

    January 7, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    So beautiful and wintery! Love the photo of the sun’s reflection.

    • Cole

      January 8, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      Thanks Abby. Have you been to Jasper? It is such a gorgeous place!

  11. James Shannon

    October 20, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    Cole and Adela,

    I lived in Jasper for three years from Summer 2009 to January 2012 … did you work at Marmot during your winter there? If so, I was a busboy at the Paradise Cafeteria at mid-mountain … best place to work on the whole hill in my opinion! Additionally, I was a tour guide at Maligne Lake for three summers … did you make it up for canoeing/backcountry camping? If not, you need to come back and cross that off your bucket list … the scenery back there (20 km up the lake) makes it a life-changing experience!

    Glad to hear you enjoyed your time in our Rocky Mountain paradise, come back soon, eh!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM

      Hey James, thanks for stopping by the blog! We did indeed work at Marmot Basin during the 09/10 winter. I was a lifty and Adela worked in the rental shop. We stuck around for summer and I worked at Rocky Mountain River Guides and Jasper Pizza Place. Good times and would love to go back and visit. Maligne is definitely one of the most beautiful spots in Canada.

      Hopefully see you back there one day…

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Adventure Travel

Tips for Planning Your Uluru Tour

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Located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the magnificent sandstone of Ayers Rock or Uluru stands tall at 1,142 feet above ground. The natural formation is widely known for being one of the most sacred places to the indigineous peoples in Australia. At the same time, it is also popular for attracting tourists from all over the world to the land down under.

If you want to visit Uluru in order to pay tribute to this wonder of nature, then doing so through the right tour is in your best interest. It’s not only because Uluru is located at least a few hours from civilization, but it also because such a tour allows you to enjoy the picturesque sights that come along the way within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

So what sights are there to see along the way and what other general tours suggestions you should keep in mind while visiting Uluru? To help you answer these and some other important questions, here are 5 top tips to keep in mind while visiting Uluru.

Don’t Climb the Monolith

First things first, while it is legal to climb atop Uluru, it is recommended that you do not attempt such an action in order to show your respect to the indigenous peoples.

It is a pretty easy rule to follow when you pay attention to the emotions of the indigenous tribes who have recommended time and again for people to not climb Uluru.

But that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the natural beauty that Uluru has to offer. In fact, you are encouraged to visit the sandstone and take in its natural glory by standing right beside the formation. That’s why 4WD tour is highly recommended. The tour guides would be able to tell you what you can and can not do.

Visit During Sunset

Ask anyone who has visited Uluru about the best time to see the formation, and you will instantly get the answer as “sunset.”

It’s because Uluru is not an ordinary monolith, but one that is formed through arkosic sandstone. This allows the rock to actually change its color according to the position of the sun. As a result, you can expect the formation to sport a different color depending upon what time of day you reach it.

At sunset, Uluru projects an amber glow that is surreal to take in, especially when you are seeing the formation in person for the very first time. That’s why, it is recommended that you time your trip in a way that allows you to experience this magnificent sight.

3. Take Your Time to Plan the Trip

Perhaps the best way to visit Uluru is through the nearby town of Alice Springs, which has various amenities and accommodation options for tourists who are making their way to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru can take around 5 hours, which is why it is recommended that you arrive at least a day before you are planning to tour Uluru.

This way, you can reach the national park while feeling fresh and rested. This also gives you time to plan longer trips to the park in order to enjoy all that it has to offer.

4. Take in the Sight of the Rock Art

Uluru is not just a wonder to look at by itself, but it also holds several little pieces of wonderful art within it.

The caves at the bottom of the formation hold several pieces of rock art that can only be found at Uluru. If you love learning about other cultures through their art, then this will be a must visit.

Just make sure that you take the time to learn about this art through a local tour guide or via the information provided within these exhibits. This ensures that you have an immersive and informative experience which you can remember for a long time.

5. Don’t Forget the Natural Attractions Around the Rock

Enjoying the breathtaking sight of Uluru sounds rewarding enough for a trip to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. But it’s not all that you can do during a tour of Uluru.

From seeing the red kangaroos and other marsupials to spending some time with the camels, and from seeing the one of a kind formations of Kata Tjuta to taking a walk by the Valley of the Winds, there’s so much to see and do around Uluru.

That is why, it is recommended that you take your time at the park and put aside at least two days to enjoy all of the unique activities that the area has to offer. It would give you a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life while also allowing you to make the most out of your long journey to the sandstone.

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Adventure Travel

Best Time to Visit Panama and Costa Rica

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The fact that Costa Rica and Panama are close makes both countries perfect for visiting. During your holiday there, it’s easy to travel back and forth between the two countries and enjoy all the wonders they have to offer. Keep in mind that the timing of your holiday will influence what sorts of sites you can visit and what activities you can make part of your plans. By understanding a little about what to expect, it’s easy to determine the best time of year to visit both countries, based on what you would like to do.

Learning More About the Dry and Rainy Seasons

If you’re the type who prefers the hustle and bustle that comes with holidays during the tourist season, plan on being in Costa Rica and Panama during what’s known as the dry season. Expect plenty of sunshine and warm weather during this part of the year. Many of your activities will be outdoors, although you will find a number of indoor sites that you will want to include in your plans.

The dry seasons in both countries overlap. The dry weather for both typically arrives during the first to the middle part of December. In Costa Rica, the dry season usually lingers until sometime in April. Panama enjoys a slightly shorter dry season, with it usually ending sometime in March.

Keep in mind that since this dry period is the height of the tourist season, the cost of visiting from December to April will be higher than at other times of the year. Even so, if your plans include spending a lot of time exploring the rain forests or soaking in the rays on one or more of the beautiful beaches, the dry season is the only time to consider.

Making the Most of the Dry Seasons

During the dry season in both nations, do expect the weather to be more humid and the day temperatures to be a little higher. There is some variance depending on which regions you plan on visiting. As a general rule, locations nearer the coast will include warmer weather and higher levels of humidity. By contrast, the more mountainous areas will offer slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels.

During this time, do plan on enjoying the lush greenery found in the rain forests. During much of the dry season, the abundance of rain from what’s known as the rainy or green season ensures that the forests are at their best. Consider adding some variety to your holiday by spending time at the beach, soaking in the nightlife along the coast, and doing some shopping at many of the open air districts. This is also the perfect timing to enjoy some of the local cuisine while dining outside.

There are special events to celebrate during the dry season. President’s Day in Costa Rica occurs during this period. Along with locals, you can enjoy a number of celebrations, open-air festivals, and just about any type of entertainment that one can imagine.

Since the dry season does attract more tourists, it pays to book your lodgings in advance. Along with President’s Day, there’s also spring break and the Easter Season to consider. While you could look at different hotels and other properties near beaches, there are also hostels that make perfect places to sleep. After all, how much time do you plan on spending indoors when there’s so much to do?

Things to Do During the Rainy Seasons

In spite of the name, it isn’t always raining during the rainy or green season. Most days, there will be brief periods of sunshine that do allow you to spend some time at the beach and other outdoor venues. Do expect the evenings to be cooler. At times, the temperature may make wearing long sleeves or possibly a sweater a good idea.

Even if you’re out and about while it’s raining, there are plenty of things to see. Towns and cities in both nations offer indoor concerts, a number of restaurants catering to all sorts of tastes, and clubs and other settings for entertainment. You will find museums that will tell you more about the history of indigenous peoples and the complexity of their cultures.

What are some of the activities you can enjoy during this time of year? Both Costa Rica and Panama offer options to go horseback riding. Generally, this will happen during the morning when the sun is most likely to be out. Walking tours are also a great way to learn more about the culture and possibly find some interesting places that you will want to return to a little later. Don’t overlook the opportunity to get in some fishing when there’s a sunny morning coming your way. There are changes to engage in freshwater fishing as well as charter boats that will take you to some of the better places to enjoy salt-water fishing.

Coffee and rum tours are also something to consider during the rainy season. These tours allow you the opportunity to see different facilities and how they produce their products. As a bonus, you get to enjoy some taste-testing at many of the places that you visit along the tour. Some of the sites will also have bistros or restaurants included, allowing you to enjoy a nice meal or snack with your coffee or rum.

In terms of museums to visit, San Jose offers some of the most interesting museums in Costa Rica. Many of them are located in or adjacent to what’s known as the Central Market. It’s a great way to enjoy time indoors during the rainy afternoons and early evenings.

In Panama, check out the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo. You can make use of headphones that offer the guided tour in multiple languages. If you happen to be proficient in Spanish, feel free to check out each exhibit on your own. You can also check out the Biodiversity Museum, which features exhibits on the over 1,000 species of animals and plants that are found in the country. Make the most of the discounts offered on Sundays. Retirees also get to enjoy discounts when visiting these museums.

Which season is the best time to visit Costa Rica and Panama? It’s really up to you. For those who prefer a slower pace and don’t mind rain during the afternoons and evenings, the raining season is ideal. Those who thrive on activity, sunshine, and plenty of tourist activities will enjoy going during the dry season. Whatever your choice, plan on coming back a second time. It’s rare for anyone to see everything they want to see during a single holiday.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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