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Days needed in Jasper in May

San Francisco
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Days needed in Jasper in May

At the end of May we were driving up from Banff. We've heard the views are incredible all along the way so take our time. Our limited reading also tells us to take lower elevation hikes at the Pyramid Bench area, Old Fort Point, Maligne Canyon, Valley of the Five Lakes and Wabasso Lake. We are clueless as to the typical amount of time it takes to do these activities. Thanks in advance!

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1. Re: Days needed in Jasper in May

lots of high cliffs and swichback roads ,then the Saskatchewan river crossing where the Glacier National Park tours where you can hike all day or take the 3 hour tour or the big glacier buggies,the food at the glacier is poor so bring some sandwiches,farther north there are falls on your right almost falling on the road ,then klamouth falls for a 2 hour hike and then the gift store and a great lunch place there,this is where the athabaska river starts,farther north about 40 km south of Jasper,there is Athabaska falls,very powerful and one of our favourites,2-6 hours there,a little ways up from there is Horseshoe lake where they cliff jump but be carefull as a couple of people have died doing it,some jump from 30 metres or more and who knows what is under,then Marmot ski resourt,then the ski lift,hiking or ride to the top and then hike

then Jasper town and many restaurants and shopping,and tour opperators and places to get info

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2. Re: Days needed in Jasper in May

Actually, there are only a very few areas on the Icefields Parkway with switchbacks - the "big bend" area just south of the Icefields (one biiiiiig switchback, and you gain 1400 feet of elevation in just a few kilometres), and then just north of the Icefields at Tangle Hill (this section has a 50 km/hr speed limit). It's an amazingly well engineered road that follows the valleys for the most part - you can have a look at it on google maps, in map or satellite view, or even "streetview", which gives you a road-level view (including looking around at the scenery).

I'm not aware of "Klamouth Falls" anywhere along the route (and a google search indicates they are in Oregon in the US) - I think perhaps Allen means Sunwapta Falls, which are located about 55 km south of Jasper. There is a small motel on the highway there, with a restaurant and gift shop, and it's a short walk to the falls. Similarly, I'm a little confused by the reference to "Glacier National Park" because that is no where along the route from Banff to Jasper, but on highway 1, between Golden and Revelstoke, BC. I think he is referring to the Icefields Centre at the Columbia Icefields, which is in Jasper National Park. This is where the Brewster "Ice Explorer" sno-coach tours are; the tour is 90 minutes long and $50 per adult. Worthwhile if it's in your budget, but if not, you can get great views of the Athabasca Glacier from the centre, and walk to the toe of the glacier. There is also a small interpretive exhibit in the centre there that is worth spending a few minutes seeing, which explains a bit about glaciers and icefields and local flora and fauna.

Hiking trails in the area are Wilcox Pass and Parker Ridge, both just a bit south of the Icefields Centre, but as these are high elevation hikes, they may not be accessible when you are here.... Parker Ridge for sure will still be very snowy .... it's an east-facing slope and Parks Canada usually keeps the trail closed until it has a chance to dry up, to minimize the damage by hikers. It's usually mid-June before it's open but as we've had record-breaking amounts of snowfall this winter, it may be later this year. The Wilcox Pass trail is south-facing, so usually open sooner, but late May is probably still pushing it.

I do agree, though, about bringing a picnic lunch to enjoy somewhere along the way. Food services on the Icefields Parkway are few and far between, expensive, and often busy with tour bus groups. There are lots of beautiful picnic areas where you can enjoy the fresh air and the views.

Just before (south) of Athasbasca Falls is Goat Look-Out. There are mineral licks right beside the highway and usually mountain goats there in the spring and early summer, often with their very young kids.

Jasper's Marmot Basin ski resort is closing on May 7 so won't be open when you are here. The lifts at Marmot Basin ski area do not run in the summer, and the ski area itself is gated with a "no trespassing" sign; there may not be much work going on there at the end of May as it will still be snowy, but they do maintenance and brush clearing in the summer and don't want unauthorized people wandering around.

On second reading, though, I think the "ski lift" mentioned is the Jasper Tramway, which is now open for the season. It's an enclosed gondola car that holds 31 people.

None of the lakes in the Jasper area are warm enough for swimming in May, so highly unlikely you'll be tempted. Horseshoe Lake never gets that warm, but on hot summer days, as mentioned cliff jumping is popular with some more adventurous types. Two shallow lakes closer to town - Lake Annette and Lake Edith - have some beach areas and are popular for swimming, but usually not until late July once the water has had a chance to warm up. There is a trail around Lake Annette, with pleasant views. Pyramid Lake is another outing close to town that is worthwhile - park near the end of the road, and walk over the pedestrian bridge to Pyramid Island. There are wonderful views at the end of the island of Pyramid Mountain.

There is a whole network of trails on Pyramid Bench, so you can do anything from a short walk for just a few minutes to an all-day hike, or even overnight (the Saturday Night Lake loop has backcountry campsites at a couple of lakes). GemTrek publishes a map "Jasper Up Close", which has all the trails marked, with distances. It's about $5, available at lots of shops including the Friends of Jasper in the Visitor Information Centre.

The Old Fort Point loop takes about 1.5 or 2 hours - very worthwhile, IMO one of the best hikes in the townsite area. The Valley of the Five Lakes is a series of interconnecting loops, so you can hike there for just a couple of km's, or do the full loop which is about 10 km. It's also possible to hike from Old Fort Point to the Valley of the Five (and on to Wabasso Lake), but these are longer hikes and usually require two vehicles.

Wabasso Lake is also a pleasant hike - maybe a couple of hours total - but if you want a longer outing, continue along the trail another couple of km's (the Shovel Pass trail) - there is a really cool area where a ravine/drainage meets the flats, with lots of big cottonwood trees, and signs of occasional extremely violent run-off/flooding activity (probably not a good idea to be there at this time of year, when things are starting to melt up high and run down.)

At Maligne Canyon, if you walk down from the parking lot to the third bridge, you'll see the most spectacular part of the canyon, but you can go further - all the way to Sixth Bridge a couple of kilometres downstream, where the Maligne River joins the Athasbasca River. Of course, then you have to walk back *up* to the parking lot. :) Doing the first three bridges would take maybe 1/2 hour to an hour.

Trees and understorey shrubs will just be leafing out when you are here, and early wildflowers starting to bloom. Be aware that it's elk calving season, and with the high country still snowy, basically all the critters are in the valleys, so do keep your eyes open (and make noise) as you hike. Stop in at the Trail Office in the Visitor Centre - the park staff can fill you in on current trail conditions and any wildlife issues or closures. There is a good, informative trail brochure that has basic maps and also lists the trails, with details like distances, hiking time etc.

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San Francisco
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3. Re: Days needed in Jasper in May

Wow!!! Thanks so much for your time in helping us figure out a plan!

Calgary
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4. Re: Days needed in Jasper in May

The key is to remember that the hiking season in the Canadian Rockies is really only July and August. The best hikes are snowbound til then.

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5. Re: Days needed in Jasper in May

The key is to remember that the hiking season in the Canadian Rockies is really only July and August. The best hikes are snowbound til then.

6. Re: Days needed in Jasper in May

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