The sun had long since set by the time we pulled into the township of Jasper in Jasper National Park. It was Victoria Day, and holiday-makers had deserted the picturesque escape town, in fact there was hardly anyone around. Once again we were faced with the tireless task of seeking out a safe place to car camp; one in which we would not be ticketed or towed, and at 11pm we ready to settle in. It was always a bit of a risky mission, although we’d been lucky so far.
The sign in the parking lot for the public washrooms only said “no camping”; it didn’t specify that sleeping in your car wasn’t legit. Besides, there were several RV’s parked up too. We thought, safety in numbers, right?
Soon into the night, we realised there would be a small price to pay for sleeping in our chosen location. Sure the proximity to the 24 hour public toilets was great, but the endless CN railway cargo trains that passed by slowly right outside our truck? They were a little less than ideal, but eventually we got used to them and passed out.
The next morning, I was on a mission to find the best that Jasper had to offer (on our budget). I took myself down to the information centre, which was located in a gorgeous historical building on the main street. I browsed all the colourful brochures and pamphlets, and chatted to an Australian couple who were also looking for things to do. The Jasper employee gave them lots of great tips for walking trails and things to do and see. I spoke to him afterward, and he marked the main areas of interest on my map.
While of course I didn’t get to see everything possible, what we did see and do I loved. And the price was right too! Since we’d bought a Parks Canada Discovery Pass back in Rogers Pass, we not longer had to fork out admission fees to any parks from then on. We found a couple awesome day walks in Jasper that really showed off its unique beauty.
Heading northeast out of the park, towards Edmonton, our first stop was Sixth Bridge. At the time, the name of the bridge was meaningless, but the walk around the lake and wooded area was beautiful. The flat 2km loop was easy and enjoyable.
Upon our return back to the truck, we were greeted by some more wildlife as several deer meandered around the parking lot grazing.
A bit further up the same road was our next hike – the five bridges of Maligne Canyon.
Descending downwards my mind flashed forward to the return walk which would be up hill, but quickly pushed those thoughts away and focused on enjoying my surroundings. As we set out on the hike, both of us were a bit put off by the paved pathway on the trail. I can see the purpose of the fence, protecting the public from plummeting to the extreme depths of the canyon and a designated path is great for keeping traffic in one area, but the chain link fence and paved trail sort of felt unnatural.
But nothing could take away from the sheer power of the water, which created this impressive canyon, which weaves its way under 6 different bridges. As we passed over First Bridge, the connection clicked as to why our previous walk was called Sixth Bridge.
I got playing around with the shutter speed on my camera and absolutely fell in love with one of the last waterfalls on our way back.
The Valley of Five Lakes
The next morning we hit up one more walk as we headed south towards Banff. The Valley of Five Lakes was on the way, and we loved driving through the Icefields Parkway so much we decided to backtrack and see it all again during the day.
As we made our way around the gentle trail, joined only by an elderly gentleman who’d pass us when I stopped to take photos, and then we’d overtake again. I really liked being away from the crowds. (I’m sure it helped that it was a Wednesday in May).
The lakes themselves were each a different shade of emerald green, tinted by the glacial silt of the mountain runoff. It reminded me so much of New Zealand! The 5km round trip was a great way to start a long day of driving that was ahead of us.
As we made our way back to the truck, the sun was high in the sky and it had certainly warmed up. I was glad we were finishing up rather than just starting out as larger groups coming in met us.
There were more day walks in Jasper that I would have been happy to do (Pyramid Island on Pyramid Lake or the Patricia Lake Loop, to name a few) but I guess that just leaves something to look forward to next time I find myself amongst the Rockies!