Jasper National Park combined with Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks, and the provincial parks of Hamber, Mount Robson and Mount Assiniboine is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. This rocky mountain park corridor is one of the largest protected areas in the world and filled with breath taking scenery, abundant wildlife and outdoor recreation. Jasper, located in the province of Alberta is the largest of the four mountain parks covering an area of more than 10,000 square kilometres including the impressive foothills that can be seen miles away as you approach the park from the east.
Jasper National Park was established in 1907 and like Banff National Park has its history steeped in the building of a transcontinental railway. In 1902, the Canadian Government was approached by the Grand Trunk Railway to form a partnership and build a northern link from New Brunswick to BC. By now, Banff was attracting visitors from all over the world, and generating much needed money, and the government realized that a new northern railway across the rockies would offer another opportunity to capitalize on the awesome scenery in this region.
The grand Trunk Line, through the Yellowhead Pass was completed to Prince Rupert in 1914. In 1915 a second railway, The Canadian Northern Railway was operating and competing with the Grand Trunk and in 1922 the two amalgamated and became the Canadian National Railway. It was also the CNR that constructed the first Jasper Park Lodge where guests could enjoy the same luxuries that were offered in the CPRís mountain resorts.
Long before the railroad arrived, fur traders and the voyageurs were the only Europeans to inhabit this region. The North West Company in 1813 built a post at the eastern edge of the Rockies, it was called Rocky Mountain House. By 1817, Jasper Hawse was the supervisor and the post became known as Jasperís House. The park is named after this early fur trader.
Miles and miles of scenic wilderness beauty make up this third most popular national park in the Canadian Park system, only Banff and Kootenay out rank it in the number of yearly visitors.
Jasper is rugged and wild attracting people from all walks of life and from all corners of the globe. Much of the park is raw wilderness and remains the same as when it was first seen by European explorers and fur traders.
The focal point of the park is the townsite of Jasper situated in an open setting on the west side of the Athabasca River offering a panoramic view of the valley and mountains.
The Athabasca River that starts high up in the mountains near the Columbia Icefield cuts through Jasper Park and makes its way eastward to the foothills and plains beyond the park boundary.
Athabasca River, along with the valley and falls are only three of the many attractions found in Jasper National Park. Carrying the greatest amount of water of any river in the Rocky Mountain parks, the Athabasca River is as old as the Rockies and the valley it helped form in the longest and widest. The very wide Athabasca Valley is home to black bears, the grizzly bears, elk and deer. Higher up in the mountains you are apt to find mountain goats, while along the highway mountain sheep often stop traffic.
Jasper National Park is home to more than 800 ponds and lakes including Patricia, Pyramid, Medicine and the most famous of them all, beautiful Maligne Lake. This lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains is one of the most photographed sites within the mountain parks.
This park is rugged with numerous opportunities for tourists to discover its natural wilderness beauty. There are miles of trails catering to both the novice and experienced backcountry hiker. There are short hikes that only a few hours to weeklong wilderness treks. Natural wilderness beauty is Jasperís biggest drawing card and why people from all over the world enjoy this Canadian gem.