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If you’re in Jasper for just one day, then the attraction of choice has to be the Jasper SkyTram.
Climbing away from the foothills around the town, the top of the SkyTram can be clearly seen from Jasper, and it commands a fantastic view over the surrounding mountains.
It’s important to note at this point that the Jasper SkyTram doesn’t start within Jasper itself, so you’ll have to get yourself to the bottom.
Throughout the summer season this is easy because they have regular busses that go from the centre of town.
I, however, was there in April, before the summer season, which meant that I had to walk it, fork out for a taxi, or hitch a ride.
I managed to hitch a ride with a passing merchant (yup, really), but I was looking at a taxi ride of about $20 each way. If you’re driving this won’t be a problem, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re doing the Greyhound, or train.
In peak season the Jasper SkyTram is $37 for a day pass, which seems steep, but you can do a fair bit of walking around the mountain from the top of the tram, once all the snow has melted. You’re on the gondola itself for about 10 minutes in each direction, and it goes quite far off the ground, so hold on if you’re afraid of heights!
So, what’s up there?
Well, it goes without saying that the view is fantastic. If you’re in the very best seat in the café on the upper level of the tram station then you have a glorious 270° panorama of the mountains with Jasper in the middle – it’s pretty amazing.
The view from either side of the station is also a glorious one, looking down the valleys on either side of the mountain.
The café is pretty well priced and generous on the portion sizes. The menu is not exactly exotic, but it’s a really nice place to get lunch and take in the views as you eat. The staff are pleasant, as you’d expect and will answer any questions. There is also a gift shop at the top!
If you have time, and the road is quiet, I would definitely recommend walking back to Jasper from the Skytram. It takes about an hour and a half and it’s all downhill.
You start off walking down the road (obvious care required here) and then eventually find yourself walking along a footpath beside it.
There’s huge potential to spot wildlife here, especially if the road is quiet, as you have a good view from the road down into the woods.
I had my camera ready hoping to see the familiar black shape of a bear in the woods bellow me all the way down.
As it turns out the wildlife that I ran into didn’t care about the road noise or the cars. As I was reaching the main highway at the bottom of the hill two elk sprang out of the trees and crossed the road right in front of me!
It was really, really cool and the first “big game” I’d seen on my journey.
Once you cross the road you have a pleasant walk along the Athabasca River into town.
On the subject of Jasper itself, my impression is that the town doesn’t have a huge amount to offer, other than a couple of pleasant streets for shopping. It would be a good base however for skiing or hiking at its nearby resorts, or visiting the Colombia and Athabasca glaciers, also nearby.
But, if you’re there for the day, the Jasper SkyTram is certainly the thing to do!
Dave is travelling around Canada on three years of working holiday visas. He’s aiming to see as much of the country as possible and have the true Canadian experience along the way! He has a great interest in the outdoors, and is always drawn to fun activities outside.
He records the highlights of his trip in his blog, which is regularly updated. The blog’s additional pages contain helpful advice about what to bring, and any challenges that he encountered during his adventure.
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