As the Jasper National Park Visitor Guide states, Jasper is “over 11,000 square kilometers, the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies.” Naturally this makes Jasper an ideal location to go exploring and capturing the majestic wild beauty of the Canadian Rockies. The park is also designated as a Dark Sky Preserve which is great for night photographers looking to capture the stars or Northern Lights! The Town of Jasper is located within the Jasper National Park and is located 366km’s west of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
My first photo trip to Jasper National Park was focused on the more iconic and well known areas. This is also because I was picking up a friend, Sam from the airport. She is a travel blogger from the US and it made more sense to stick to more of the well known locations for this trip. While I do plan to return, it was a good scouting trip for me as I am from the Prairies and it is a full days drive for me to get there. The weather didn’t cooperate with us this time, but we made it work and kept our plans flexible to approach each day as best we could with what we were given. Here is a breakdown of some of the top photography locations in Jasper.
Pyramid Lake – Pyramid Mountain
Towering elegantly above Jasper is Pyramid Mountain, appropriately named for its shape, the mountain greets you as you get near Jasper. Located about a 10 minutes drive from the town center, you can find Pyramid Lake at the base of the mountain and pyramid lake island, photogenically placed just a short boardwalk offshore.
Athabasca Falls – Icefields Parkway
Just over 30km south of Jasper you reach Athabasca Falls along the Icefields Parkway. The drive to get there along the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) provides some breathtaking views along the way. We choose to keep going to Sunwapta Falls before returning here, so it was later in the day when we arrived and the clouds were moving in. The time of day provided some interesting shadows along the canyon walls and down into the falls as we captured the changing light.
Sunwapta Falls – Icefields Parkway
Located just over 50km south of Jasper is Sunwapta Falls, or 25 km south of Athabasca Falls along Hwy 93. This beautiful falls is well known as it wraps around the delicate spruce trees before falling into a canyon. There are several points of view of the falls.
We went there our first day in Jasper and the water was still flowing over the crest of the falls, by the time we returned two days later after some cold nights and heavy snow, the falls were capped in a fresh blanket of powder. We were breaking trail that morning in about 6 inches of fresh snow as we found the iconic viewpoint down by the falls.
Wildlife – Jasper National Park
I live in the boreal forest so I am used to wildlife, what I am not used to is wildlife that hangs out around people and really doesn’t seem to mind at all! Its hard, part of me sad that animals have to put up with the constant flow of tourists, while I am part of the problem taking my turn to capture the animals right along the roadways. We stopped a couple times, however we seen countless wildlife during our trip travelling between locations and just enjoyed them as we passed by.
It is important to note that stopping to observe wildlife should only be done when it is safe to do so. Stay far away from the animals, NEVER feed or attempt to touch them and do not disturb their natural grazing areas.
When we first arrived, the visitor center had informed us the Maligne Ice Canyon Walk Tours wasn’t operating for a few more days, we thought we had missed the season so we went to the Fifth bridge and parked to check out the trail. I had done some research beforehand so we knew where to go. It was snowing and had just snowed the day before so there were only a couple footprints in the snow to follow.. so we decided to follow them. Sure enough we followed them right to the gates of the ice canyon part of the trail. The hike was about 20 mins from the parking lot. I strongly recommend you go with a tour guide if you are not familiar with these types of conditions. We took extreme caution, and have experience with similar conditions, so we ventured along the rocks into the canyon. We went as far as we could safely, and got to see some amazing ice formations. Tip: take crampons or some form of ice walking cleats with you for safety.
Jasper Park Lodge
We choose to splurge a bit and stay at the impressive Jasper Park Lodge while we stayed in Jasper. We choose this spot because the lodge grounds offered so many photo opportunities accessible by foot in case we got snowed in (which we did) we were still able to head out to get some beautiful landscapes. The lodge was amazing, from the heated outdoor pool to the life sized gingerbread house and smores and hot chocolate bar in the snow. This place did not disappoint one bit.
Jasper National Park is easily accessible by vehicle in the winter. Be mindful of changing weather conditions and limited access to some areas due to weather.
This is not a complete list of locations, this is just a starting point for others going to enjoy the park for the first time. The weather didn’t cooperate with us as much as we would have liked. There are so many areas within the park that are each more photogenic than the last. Let me know your favourite spots to photograph in Jasper because I am already planning my next trip back!