1. Explore the Fairmont Jasper Lodge and Lake Beauvert. This property is quite different from any other Fairmont property that I have visited. It really gives you that cozy, log cabin, off the beaten path feel. In a separate post, I outlined my full review of the hotel. After visiting so many lakes, I felt that Lake Beauvert, which the hotel is situated around, was really gorgeous. It was one of my favorites. Despite our trip being in the middle of high season, the property did not seem overcrowded. I recommend enjoying a walk around the lake or taking a canoe out for more fun.
2. Travel to Lake Maligne. I was dead set on visiting Lake Maligne and rather excited about it. That being said, I think it was probably my least favorite of the lakes that we visited on the trip. Here is the mistake we made and why you should still go! Spirit Island is a tiny island on Lake Maligne only accessible by boat cruise. We did not make the trip. I did not realize that the only way to visualize the island is via the cruise. Don’t try and paddle yourself there … it will take you half of the day. The photos of Spirit Island show such beautiful color to the water which appears more emerald. Turns out, the water actually shifts in color as you go further south due to the proximity to the glaciers. You will see this is not the case further north. The photo you can take of Spirit Island is actually a rather iconic image, as Apple used it when they revealed the 2014 iPad to flaunt its new camera capabilities. While we were there, we hiked on a trail that hugged the lake and then went into more of a forrest area. It is beautiful, but in my opinion, skip this and go straight for Spirit Island. If you do love to hike, there is an abundance of trails. Another great plus to visiting Lake Maligne is the drive and some of the stops to make along the way.
On your drive, the first stop you may come to is the Hanging Valley Viewpoint. Once you park, a small walk will take you to a viewpoint that overlooks the Athabasca Valley. A couple of additional stops to take note on the drive are Maligne Canyon and Medicine Lake. Maligne Canyon has six bridges and a number of trails to traverse. When you arrive, there is a map that outlines all of the trails and their length. We choose to do two of the shorter routes. This turned out to be a really pleasant surprise on our drive. What I really loved about Medicine Lake is it is so calm. In the morning during our drive, the reflection was perfect. We were able to get some beautiful photos here. I would stop at the sites along the way to the lake versus on your drive back. It seems Spirit Island is best captured in photos later in the afternoon versus in the morning.
3. Walk around Jasper town. This is a tiny town worth a quick drive or walk through. After driving Icefields parkway on your way to Jasper, you will drive through the town if you are continuing on to the Fairmont. We stopped here to have lunch one afternoon on our way to the Skytram. After walking the main drag, we decided on the Jasper Brewing Company for a drink and lunch. This was a good lunch and the food was tasty. Atmosphere was very casual.
4. Jasper Skytram. We arrived at the tram not too far from Jasper in the afternoon. It is rather pricey (approximately $52 per adult) for the ride to the top, so as we waited for the next available tram I was starting to question whether it would be worth the trip. They give you a departure time when you purchase your ticket. Just outside the ticket office, there is a small restaurant and restrooms to entertain you during the wait. The day we went, the sky was very clear. This is important! If the sky is not clear, I do not think this would be worth your time. Once you exit the tram at the top, there is a restaurant for enjoying food and views from the top. Outside, you can make an additional 0.9 mile hike to the very top viewpoint. It is very steep on the way up, and I thought that going down was rather difficult. I wish I had on my hiking boots rather than tennis shoes. While we were at the top, it actually started to hail a little and the wind really picked up. You will want to bring a number of layering pieces for this trip. Due to the large elevation gain, the temperature dropped noticeably and the clothing you were wearing at the bottom will likely no longer be adequate. I thought the views from here were really fantastic. If weather (and clear sky) allows, I would definitely recommend the skytram. On the ride back down, the line was backed up possibly because of the declining weather conditions. Nevertheless, keep in mind, it will take some time to stand in line and get back down. Below, I will include some photos so you know what kind of views to expect from the top.
5. Stop at Bear’s Paw Bakery. The morning we were leaving the Fairmont, we decided to make a stop at Bear’s Paw Bakery for some food on the road back to Banff. There was a pretty extensive line around 10-11am and, after trying the food, it was easy to understand why. The number of choices is rather overwhelming in a good way. My go to drink is always an iced chai latte, which was fantastic. We tried a sandwich, jalapeno cheese bread, pizza bread, and a cookie. I don’t think you can make a bad choice here! Make this a must do. Since it is so crowded, I think it is best suited for to go orders.
Something that we did not do in Jasper that I was interested in was visiting the Miette Hot Springs. It is about 1 hour from the Jasper Fairmont and is within Jasper National Park. They looked as if they have a beautiful view. If you have more time in Jasper, it is an option to consider.