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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt
Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:
We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!
Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!
Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!
Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!
Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.
On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:
The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.
Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!
The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.
We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!
Running with the Bulls Video
Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.
We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.
All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.
Unfortunately, I was standing in their path.
What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.
Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!
Running with the Bulls Video
Would you ever consider running with the bulls?
While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide
Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.
Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Why visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.
This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok
Exploring the Klongs
Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!
What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?
You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.
Rickshaw City Tours
If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.
What’s it cost?
Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.
You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.
Local Secret Spot
Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.
You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.
How to get there?
You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.
Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!
Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.
It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!
And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.
Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…
It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!
From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.
Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Meet Cole and Adela
We 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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