The town of Jasper lies on a broad floodplain at the confluence of the Miette and Athabasca rivers, making the surrounding mountains less immediate and so a shade less majestic than elsewhere in the Rockies.
Add to this the town’s good sized industrial park and rail yard beside its downtown and you end up with some of the windswept frontier feel more typical of a northern Canadian town. This grittiness can feel in step with its wild surroundings, but the prissiness of towns like Banff is pretty much absent. This is more a place to sleep, eat and stock up, rather than hang out.
That said, reasonable hiking and mountain biking trails almost start from downtown. This focuses on Connaught Drive and the parallel Patricia Street and is where you’ll find almost all restaurants and bars. Most hotels are elsewhere, making downtown quieter than it might be.
Driving time from Edmonton (362km), or Banff (287km) is around 4hrs.
Greyhound buses travel to Jasper from Edmonton; Brewster link it to Banff, Lake Louise and Calgary. Both leave from the train station at 607 Connaught Drive. It’s also here that VIA Rail trains stop on their way between Winnipeg and Vancouver. It’s a lovely service, with carriages designed for the views, but reservations are often needed far in advance.
In Jasper it can be awkward to get to outlying sights without private transport. Other than renting a car (book well in advance); there’s the Maligne Lake Shuttle Service which links the Jasper Park Lodge, The Jasper Inn Alpine Resort, Maligne Canyon Teahouse, Jacques Lake Trailhead, Maligne Canyon
Youth Hostel, Watch Tower Trailhead, Skyline Trailheads (North &
South), Maligne Pass Trailhead, Bald Hills Trail, and Opal Basin Trail.
For a taxi, call Heritage Cabs (780-852-5558) or Jasper Taxi (780-852-3600).