Take A Trip to Jasper: Heart of the Rockies

Take A Trip to Jasper: Heart of the Rockies

by Tyson Kelsall, Culture Editor

It is easy to understand why people might be craving some sensory stimulation and fresh air while living and studying in Prince George. The smaller town has its benefits: a tightly knit community, low traffic, and everything being close by, but it also has its drawbacks, and sometimes there is not much happening. With the two closest big cities being 739 and 786 kilometers away, respectively, sometimes the drive can be too draining to really enjoy a short trip down to Edmonton or Vancouver. That is why it is important not to forget about a small gem that is only a 4-hour drive away: Jasper, Alberta!

In between Prince George and Jasper there are not many townships, except for the village of McBride and Tête Jaune Cache. A small community of roughly 650 people, McBride sits on the edge of the furthest inland temperate rainforest in the world. Needless to say, the combination of hills, long stretches of farmland and the forest create a picturesque, eye-opening landscape. 

Tête Jaune Cache lies at the juncture of highways 5 and 16. The Fraser River runs along the small, unincorporated area of nearly 500 people. Tête Jaune shares its namesake with the alternative title for Highway 16; it is French for “Yellow Head” and was named after a famous Iroquois-Métis fur trapper and trader, Paul Hastination, who happened to have blonde hair. Historically, Tête Jaune was a more vibrant town of 3,000 people, but many of the economic devices have slowed down, or come to a complete halt.

Soon after comes the entrance to British Columbia’s Mount Robson Provincial Park, and on all sides there is a great view of the mountains; while looking forward you will see Mount Robson itself, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies, which stands at nearly 13,000 feet.

 Entering Jasper National Park means paying a toll of $19.60 per vehicle per day. Although it may seem expensive, it goes towards keeping the National Park of Jasper in pristine condition. A place as large, natural, accessible, and legally protected as Jasper National Park is indeed a rarity. The most affordable places to stay in Jasper are the hostels, which offer beds for under $30 per night. In and around Jasper there are many hikes to enjoy, including Maligne Canyon, Pyramid Lake, and the Mount Edith area. For wildlife fiends, there are bighorn sheep, elk, mountain goats, black bears, wolves, and moose often wandering around. The most invigorating and refreshing attraction might be to take the sky-tram to the peak of Whistler Mountain. The fresh mountain air, the great views of Jasper National Park and the walk to the summit will undoubtedly make you feel renewed after a long stretch of being in the city.

 In the town itself there are many shops and restaurants. Although the population of Jasper is quite small, it is very concentrated and there are often many tourists. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, the local shops will likely be packed with people. There are also a number of pubs, nightclubs, and bars which are open throughout the year. In the winter, Jasper offers a whole array of winter sports, including alpine skiing in Marmot Basin, which opens mid-November each year. There are many routes to snowshoe and cross country ski; there is an ice walk through the canyon, and even a few dogsledding companies.

If you have the time, there are a few notable stops along the highway, including a well-maintained trail through the Ancient Forest 110 kilometers from Prince George, which is organized largely by a local hiking group, the Caledonia Ramblers. There is also a 20-minute wheelchair accessible boardwalk. Additionally, there is Sugarbowl-Grizzly Den Provincial Park, which includes a trail to a cabin at Raven Lake, amongst other hikes. On dreary weekends, when things start to feel a little stagnant, you do not have to go far from Prince George to get a taste of something a little different and reinvigorating.