Travel

Magic Mountains

December 8, 2019

A five-hour drive from Calgary, Jasper is more of a jaunt to take on than, say, going to Canmore or Banff. But, with beyond-stunning lakes, lush forests and, of course, the extraordinary Canadian Rockies to take in, the way there is so staggeringly beautiful, you won’t even notice how many clicks you’ve got left. So, get your best playlist going and keep an eye out for bears, big-horn sheep and deer along the way—once in Jasper, you’ll find the city to be cosy and friendly (those dreams of living as mountaineer will surely hit you hard). —Karen Kwan

jasper

stay. The view of Athabasca Glacier from the Glacier View Lodge alone is enough of a draw to stay at this new all-inclusive resort. Besides, with all the hiking that’s available and the adrenaline rush of mountain activities, you’ll likely appreciate the ease of an all-inclusive package—all you have to do is get your tired self down to the resort’s Altitude restaurant for Canadian-inspired fare.

savour. The lineup at Jasper Brewing Company includes equal parts visitors and locals for good reason. This casual hotspot has friendly service, a comfortable vibe and a tasty menu filled with the kind of food that mountain air stirs up cravings for, like a fried chicken sandwich with sriracha mayo and a grilled Alberta striploin. Wash your meal down with a craft brew—we’re partial to the Babe Blueberry Vanilla Ale (order as a Black & Blue, with stout layered on top).

see. That old adage, "it’s about the journey, not the destination,” could be about Columbia Icefield Adventure, which starts with the Athabasca Glacier. Aboard the enormous Ice Explorer, with wheels and power so impressive even the non-mechanically inclined will be gawking, you’ll head down a steep incline to the glacier where you’ll walk on and even taste (if you wish) this incredible natural wonder. Then it’s on to the glass-floor Skywalk—a $21-million engineering masterpiece that places you 280 metres above the stunning Sunwapta Valley.

stroll. There’s no scarcity of hiking trails to choose from but, as a first-timer to Jasper, one to start with is Sulphur Skyline for its almost-unreal vistas. Also called Sulphur Ridge, this hike includes steep climbs, so come prepped with plenty of water, snacks, layers of clothing and proper footwear. For those seeking a more moderate hike, head to Valley of the Five Lakes, where the still waters are brilliant and stunningly clear.

soak. Glutes and hamstrings unhappy after all that hiking? Miette Hot Springs boasts the warmest waters in the Canadian Rockies (it’s actually cooled to 40 C for the pool). Soak those tired muscles as you soak up views of the soaring peaks surrounding you. (Hot tip: the Sulphur Skyline hike starts and ends at this parking lot, making it the ideal reward after your trek.)

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