BY JANET STEINBERG
Welcome to Jasper in the Canadian Province of Alberta. This picturesque town is nestled within Jasper National Park, one of the largest wilderness areas in North America. Jasper National Park, the largest of Canada’s mountain parks, has been designated an United Nations World Heritage site.
In the early 1800s, the explorer and mapmaker David Thompson created a way station for fur traders. This was Jasper’s first permanent habitation. The 4200-square mile Jasper National Park was formed in 1907 and, with the arrival of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1911, the town of Jasper was formally established.
The Jasper Park Lodge, a true “Grand Canadian Lodge Experience” was built on 903 acres of pristine forest in Jasper National Park. This village of cozy cedar chalets and heritage log cabins is situated along the emerald shores of Lac (Lake) Beauvert.
|JASPER PARK LODGE|
The Jasper Park Lodge had its humble beginnings in 1915 with a few tents on the shores of Lac Beauvert. Then the new Canadian National Railway took over the tent camp and opened Jasper Park Lodge in 1922. The Lodge is now an alpine village comprised of 446 rooms, suites, cabins, and chalets, all connected by picturesque paths. The rooms are decorated in casually elegant styles and the main lodge, with its blazing fireplace, stained-glass lamps, and wood furniture, has a distinct Frank Lloyd Wright flavor.
The Lodge is an unforgettable setting for special events. Milligan Manor, named for a golf superintendent of local renown, is the largest luxury cabin on the property,
Milligan Manor’s wildlife-themed great room, with its wood-burning fireplace and full kitchen with private catering entrance, is perfect for special event. The cabin’s eight-bedroom, 9-bath, wing can accommodate at least 16 family members or guests.
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course, rated the #1 resort golf course in Canada, is an un-FORE!-gettable golf experience. This 18-hole beauty is marked by wide fairways carved from abundant forests and holes aligned with spectacular mountain vistas.
Equally spectacular is the wide range of dining venues available in the hotel. And, if you just want to laze around in your cabin and enjoy food or drink with your own private view, you can ring up Fitzhugh’s Express, a Jasper Park Lodge Deli that delivers food service on a bike.
Living close to nature, amid the stunning beauty of the wilderness, it is easy to see why this superb alpine lodge casts its spell over all who experience its warm hospitality and distinctive surroundings. This luxurious retreat, crafted from materials provided by Mother Nature, blends harmoniously with the towering trees and vividly hued lakes of this mountain haven. It is a world apart from the everyday hustle and bustle of city life.
LIVING CLOSE TO NATURE IN JASPER
In this rugged land, where mountains are cloaked in verdant forests, and each season is a palette of vivid colors, there are activities and attractions year-round. Summer fun includes hiking, rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, helicopter sightseeing, golf, canoeing, swimming and spa-ing.
There is much more to Jasper’s winter wonderland than skiing. While it is true that the area offers some of the driest powder, emptiest lift lines, and most spectacular scenery of any ski resort in the Canadian Rockies, there is much more to do off-slope than on.
Romancing the snow can be fun snuggled under a Hudson Bay blanket on a horse-drawn sleigh ride, or holding hands as you ice-skate on Lac Beauvert. Add to this downhill or cross-country skiing , snowshoeing, ice fishing, heli-skiing, dog sledding, or ice climbing with a licensed mountaineering guide, and you’ve got yourself quite a winter adventure.
From Spring through Fall, hop a shuttle from the Jasper Park Lodge for the 29-mile ride to Maligne Lake. At Maligne Lake (pronounced Maw-lean), a heated, glass-enclosed tour boat will glide you around the lake and take you to the world famous Spirit Island.
Located in the majestic Maligne Valley, this exquisite lake, that stretches for 14-miles, is the second largest glacier-fed lake in the world. As you pass glacier-studded mountain peaks, your captain and crew will engage you with their informative narrative about the history, glaciology, geology, and wildlife of this magnificent valley.
Time is allowed for passengers to disembark at Spirit Island, a small island formed by a promontory of land near Samson Narrows. Since the water level of the lake varies during the year, Spirit “Island” often becomes a peninsula. A short walk to the viewpoint allows you to capture this surreal setting for yourself.
Approximately seven-miles Southeast of Jasper is Maligne Canyon, reputed to be one of the most spectacular gorges in the Canadian Rockies. Sheer limestone walls plunge to depths of over 165-feet. In the summer you can hike a trail that winds its way from a picnic area across six bridges where you can catch the spray from the thundering Maligne River. In winter, hardy adventurers can take a guided Canyon tour across the floor of the frozen canyon.
Only ten-minutes from the town of Jasper is the Jasper Tramway that will whisk you up Whistler’s Mountain to an elevation of 7496-feet. Riding Canada’s longest and highest aerial tramway into Jasper National Park’s alpine tundra is a captivating experience. From over 12,970-feet above sea level, you can gaze over six mountain ranges, glacial-fed lakes, meandering rivers and the scenic town of Jasper.
The enchanting hours of early evening shed a magical light on the mountains. It is said to be the most peaceful time to take the Tramway up Whistler’s mountain where you can dine, in a true alpine setting, in The Treeline Restaurant.
Miette Hotsprings, 36-miles east of Jasper are the hottest springs in the Canadian Rockies. Located in the scenic Fiddle Valley, these natural springs are cooled from 129-degrees Fahrenheit to a soothing 102-degrees. The facility includes two hot pools (one pool is wheelchair accessible), a cool pool, and a poolside café. Swimsuits, towels, and lockers are available to rent.
In the bustling little town of Jasper, Mount Edith Cavell majestically rises behind the historic train station, where we disembarked from the Rocky Mountaineer train. The Queen Charlotte Totem Pole, next to the train station, is one of the tallest totem poles still in existence.
QUEEN CHARLOTTE TOTEM POLE
Jasper, and the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, is world class destination. And I must say that getting there…on the Rocky Mountaineer Railroad…was more than half the fun.
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer and a Travel Consultant with THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY in Mariemont, Ohio.