Updated: Jun 7, 2019
Are you like everyone else that takes the trip to Banff to see the famous Lake Louise? Well - I would have been that person had I not added in a day trip to Jasper. If you can believe, I almost think Jasper is even more beautiful than Banff. If you are driving from Banff to Jasper beware, the drive is about 4 hours long but I don't think you should do it any other way! There are so many things to do and see along the way. Here are a few reasons why you must visit Jasper, even just for a day.
You have a reason to drive the Icefield Parkway
If you are doing Jasper in just one day, leave early. Since the drive is long you will want to leave early enough to leave 6 hours to site see in Jasper. One of the benefits of driving between Banff and Jasper is the Icefield Parkway. The Icefield Parkway is 140 miles long. According to Conde Nast Traveler, the Icefield Parkway is rated one of the top drives in the world! There are more than 100 ancient glaciers, cascading waterfalls, dramatic rock spires and emerald lakes set in sweeping valleys of forests. We were also able to see quite a bit of wildlife. We got up and close to a black bear, saw several elk and even a beaver or porcupine.
There are less crowds
Because people typically have to travel from Banff to Jasper, it typically cuts down on the amount of crowds you can expect to see. We drove all the way to Maligne Lake to see Spirit Island and the crowds vs. what we experienced at Lake Louise the day before were much less!
The town of Jasper is fun
Jasper is a small town but a great place to spend a few hours. We stopped here for lunch on the way back to Banff and enjoyed eating at Jasper Brewing Company. If you know me, you know I am always scoping out breweries!
You can check out the famous Spirit Island
Spirit Island is arguably the most photographed spot in Canada. The beautiful, undisturbed island with the scenery makes for a beautiful photo, but what makes Spirit Island so significant? According to some accounts, Spirit Island gets its name from two young lovers from feuding tribes who used to meet secretly on the island. However, when the young woman eventually confessed her forbidden affair to her father, one of the tribes’ chiefs, he banned her from ever returning to the island. Heartbroken, her lover continued to return to Spirit Island throughout his life, hoping to see his beautiful lover again. But she never came and he eventually died on the island, where his spirit still resides.
Stop at Sunwupta Falls
The great thing about driving between Banff and Jasper is the options you have for places to stop and hike or just take some photos. One of those stops is right off the Icefield Parkway. This site is great because there is no hiking involved. You can see the Sunwupta Falls in less than 1 minute after getting out of your car.
Stop at Athabasca Glacier
The final spot I would say to stop is the Athabasca Glacier. You can see this one from the Icefield Parkway but park and walk up the hill (or ice hill if you go in the winter / spring) for an even more up close experience with the glacier. The stream is in full force as the glacier slowly melts!