Jasper National Park
Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park is the most accessible and visited glacier in the world.
Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park
Map showing the location of Jasper National Park
Map showing the location of Jasper National Park
Location of Jasper National Park in Canada
Map showing the location of Jasper National Park
Map showing the location of Jasper National Park
Location of Jasper National Park in Alberta
LocationAlberta, Canada
Nearest townHinton
Coordinates52°48′N 117°54′W / 52.8°N 117.9°W / 52.8; -117.9Coordinates: 52°48′N 117°54′W / 52.8°N 117.9°W / 52.8; -117.9
Area10,878 km2 (4,200 sq mi)
Established14 September 1907
Visitors1,672,497[2] (in 2020)
Governing bodyParks Canada
WebsiteOfficial website
Part ofCanadian Rocky Mountain Parks
CriteriaNatural: (vii), (viii)
Inscription1984 (8th Session)

Jasper National Park is a national park in Alberta, Canada. It is the largest national park within Alberta's Rocky Mountains spanning 11,000 km2 (4,200 sq mi). It was established as a national park in 1930 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Its location is north of Banff National Park and west of Edmonton. The park contains the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield, springs, lakes, waterfalls and mountains.


First Nations

The territory encompassed by what is now Jasper National Park has been inhabited since time immemorial by Nakoda, Nêhiyawak, Secwépemc, and Dene-zaa peoples.[3] Plainview projectile points have been found at the head of Jasper Lake, dating back to between 8000 and 7000 BCE.[4] In the centuries between then and the establishment of the park, First Nations land use has fluctuated according to climatic variations over the long term, and according to cyclical patterns of ungulate population numbers, particularly elk, moose, mule deer, and occasionally caribou.[5] Starting in the 1790s, Haudenosaunee and Nipissing hunters and trappers moved in large numbers to the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains, around the headwaters of the Athabasca and Smoky Rivers in particular, most of them employed by the Northwest Company.[6] By the time David Thompson crossed the Athabasca Pass in 1810, led by a Haudenosaunee guide named Thomas, there were hundreds of Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe people living in the region.[6] When Mary Schäffer Warren "discovered" Maligne Lake—known by the Nakoda as Chaba Imne—in 1908, she did so by following a map given to her by Samson Beaver, a Nakoda guide and hunter.[7]

Fur trade

Jasper National Park's name originates from Jasper Haws, a Maryland-born fur trader who worked for the North West Company. In 1815, Haws took command of a North West Company trading post, built on Brûlé Lake in 1813, which subsequently became known as Jasper's House.[8] In 1830, the trading post was relocated further up the Athabasca River, just north of Jasper Lake. The site of Jasper House itself was designated a National Historic Site in 1924.

Jasper House was destroyed in 1910, but it gave its name to both the National Park, and the town of Jasper within the Park.[9][10]

Jasper Park established

Jasper Forest Park was established by a federal Order in Council on September 14, 1907.[11] The park's establishment was spurred by plans for the construction of a second transcontinental Canadian railway, which was to cross the Rocky Mountains at Yellowhead Pass; Jasper Park was intended to be developed into an alpine resort in the mold of Rocky Mountains Park, with a train station, tourist hotels, and a service town.[12][13] Collectively, the mountain parks were intended as a sort of wilderness playground for middle-class workers, an antidote to the malaise of modern life.[14][15] Unfortunately, the vision of wilderness on which the development plan depended was at odds with the presence of long-established Métis homesteaders within the boundaries of the park, many of whom were descended from the white and Haudenosaunee fur traders and trappers employed by the North West Company and the Hudson Bay Company in the 19th century.[16] In 1909, six Métis families were declared squatters, paid compensation for any "improvements" made to the land, including buildings, ditches, and fences, and ordered to leave the park.[17][18]

In 1911, Jasper Forest Park came under the administration of the newly established Dominion Parks Branch of the Department of the Interior, under the purview of James Bernard Harkin,[12] at which time the name was changed to simply Jasper Park.[19] Under Harkin, Canada's national parks were to fulfill a dual mandate of wilderness protection and economic development—primarily as tourist destinations.[20] In particular, the Parks Branch expressly forbid hunting in Jasper and the other mountain parks, deprecating First Nations' centuries-long history of subsistence hunting in the region[16] as indiscriminate slaughter of the local game wildlife.[21] Despite the prohibition on hunting, the park and its tourist facilities became a base of operations for wealthy Canadian and American sport hunters for hunting trips further into the Rockies, beyond the prohibitions in place in the mountain parks and the Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve.[21]

The Jasper Park Information Centre, originally constructed in 1914 as an administration building and as the park superintendent's residence
The Jasper Park Information Centre, originally constructed in 1914 as an administration building and as the park superintendent's residence

In 1930, Jasper Forest Park officially became Jasper National Park with the passing of the National Parks Act.[3] Section 4 of the Act further underlined the park's wilderness preservation function, with Canada's National Parks "dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education and enjoyment" and "maintained and made use of so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."[22] Ironically, given the mandate its mandate to preserve natural spaces, the Act also redefined Jasper Park's boundaries, removing 518 square kilometres (200 sq mi) of land from the park—including Brûlé Lake and Rock Lake—opening the excised area to coal mining and hydroelectric development.[23]

Early tourism and sport

CNR advertising campaign from 1929
CNR advertising campaign from 1929

In 1911, the Grand Trunk Pacific (GTP) laid track through the park and over Yellowhead Pass.[24] That same year, the GTP founded the town of Fitzhugh around the company's railway station; the town was renamed Jasper in 1913. The GTP's route across the pass was followed in 1913 by the Canadian Northern (CNoR).[12] Both Having both fallen into financial difficulty, the two railways were nationalized—the GTP in 1919 and the CNoR in 1923—and eventually merged into the Canadian National Railway (CNR) by an Order in Council.[25] The railway was later followed by a road built between Edmonton and Jasper. The section between the town of Jasper and the eastern gate of the park was completed in 1928, however it took another three years for the Province of Alberta to complete the remaining stretch of the road into Edmonton.[26]

By the time the GTP's railway track cleared Yellowhead Pass in 1911, there were already eight hotels established in Jasper, but they were rudimentary, and did not meet the expectations of the well-heeled clientele to which the GTP advertised.[27] Jasper Park Lodge, the focal point of the GTP's Jasper advertising campaign, would not open until 1922, three years after the company's bankruptcy and only a year before the railway was merged into the nationally owned CNR.[28] Like the GTP before it, Canadian National featured both Jasper park and the lodge prominently in its advertising literature.

From its founding, the town of Jasper, and later the Jasper Park Lodge, served as a hub for a variety of outdoor sporting activities. Even as Mary Schäffer Warren was "discovering" Maligne Lake, outfitters were springing up in the park to rent out equipment and guide hikers and alpinists.[29] The Alpine Club of Canada, formed in 1906 and sponsored through the 1920s in part by the CNR,[30] held seven of its annual alpine camps in Jasper between 1926 and 1950.[31] And while hunting was forbidden within park grounds, the park's facilities served as a base of operations for outfitters and guides who led wealthy hunters on hunting trips into the forest reserves outside Jasper's boundaries.[32]

Internment camps

In 1916, following the precedent set at Banff National Park, the Government of Canada opened an internment camp for individuals deemed enemy aliens, primarily immigrants from Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including Ukrainians, who made up the largest affected population, and the Ottoman Empire.[33] The interned men were primarily employed in the construction of a road from the town of Jasper, along the Maligne River first to Medicine Lake, and later on to Maligne Lake.[34]

In 1931, in response to the Great Depression, the government of Prime Minister R.B. Bennett enacted the Unemployment and Farm Relief Act, which allocated funds for public works projects in the national parks.[35][36] Labourers, many of them laid-off Canadian National Railway workers, were employed on road and bridge projects within the park, for which they were paid 25 to 30 cents per hour, working eight hours a day up to six days per week.[37] In October, 1931, under the auspices of the relief project, construction started on a road between Jasper and Banff, which would ultimately form the basis for the Icefields Parkway.[38]

Internment camps were established again during World War II, when three hundred Japanese Canadians were forcibly sent to three road camps in Jasper.[39] Additionally, 160 conscientious objectors, many of them Mennonites from the Prairie provinces, were interned at Jasper and put to work upgrading the Maligne Lake and Medicine Lake roads, as well as building a road from Geikie to the British Columbia border.[40]


Mammalian species found in this park are the elk, caribou, moose,[41] red fox, mule deer, white-tailed deer, porcupine, lynx, beaver, marten, river otter, mink, pika, grizzly bear, coyote, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, black bear, timber wolf,[41] hoary marmot, cougar, and wolverine. The most common birds that fly around this park include bald eagles, golden eagles, great horned owls, ravens, grey jays, clark's nutcrackers, spruce grouses, white-tailed ptarmigans, Bohemian waxwings, and evening grosbeaks.

World Heritage Site

The park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, together with the other national and provincial parks that form the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, for the mountain landscapes containing mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons, and limestone caves as well as fossils found here.[42]


Mount Athabasca in the park
Mount Athabasca in the park

Major river systems originating in the park include the Athabasca and Smoky rivers (part of the Arctic Ocean basin).[43][44] The park is coextensive with the Province of Alberta's Improvement District No. 12.


Fryatt Valley from the top of the head wall
Fryatt Valley from the top of the head wall

Some of the park's scenic attractions include Mount Edith Cavell, Pyramid Lake with Pyramid Mountain, Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake, and the Tonquin Valley.

Other attractions are the Marmot Basin ski area; the Snocoach tours of the Athabasca Glacier, an outlet glacier of the Columbia Icefield; Athabasca Falls; the Jasper Skytram, and numerous other outdoor related recreational activities (such as hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, rafting, kayaking and camping). The Miette Hot Springs are located close to the northeast entrance.

A Grizzly Bear roams in a wooded area near Jasper Townsite in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.
A Grizzly Bear roams in a wooded area near Jasper Townsite in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.

The Icefields Parkway is a highway 230 km (140 mi) in length from Lake Louise, Alberta in Banff National Park, to Jasper, Alberta. The highway parallels the continental divide, providing motor and cycle access to the mountains. The Athabasca and Sunwapta Falls[45] are both accessible by the road.[46]


Climate data for Jasper Warden (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 10.9
Average high °C (°F) −3.7
Daily mean °C (°F) −9.5
Average low °C (°F) −15.3
Record low °C (°F) −44.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 23.9
Average rainfall mm (inches) 1.5
Average snowfall cm (inches) 26.4
Source: Environment Canada[47][48]

In popular culture

Entering the park on Yellowhead Highway
Entering the park on Yellowhead Highway

Jasper National Park is featured in the 2010 3D animated comedy-drama film Alpha and Omega as the location the two wolf protagonists are taken from and struggle to return to.[49][50][51][52]

A KLM Boeing 777-300 is named after Jasper National Park.[53]

"Do not let moose lick your car" was posted on roads around the park in 2020. Moose liked to lick the salt off their cars which was dangerous for motorists and for the moose if they linger on the highways.[41]

See also


  1. ^ "Protected Planet | Jasper National Park Of Canada". Protected Planet. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  2. ^ Parks Canada Agency, Government of Canada (30 March 2021). "2020 Annual Report - Jasper National Park". www.pc.gc.ca. Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  3. ^ a b Parks Canada Agency, Government of Canada (16 February 2022). "Indigenous connections - Jasper National Park". www.pc.gc.ca. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  4. ^ Anderson & Reeves 1975, p. 94.
  5. ^ Anderson & Reeves 1975, p. 105.
  6. ^ a b Payne 2007, pp. 8–10.
  7. ^ Reichwein & McDermott 2007, pp. 160–161.
  8. ^ Parks Canada Agency, Government of Canada (28 November 2017). "Discover - Jasper House National Historic Site". www.pc.gc.ca. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  9. ^ Payne 2007, p. 24.
  10. ^ Sandford 2010, p. 173.
  11. ^ Murphy 2007a, p. 71.
  12. ^ a b c Taylor 2007, pp. 200–201.
  13. ^ Reichwein 2014, p. 5.
  14. ^ Benham, D.J. (15 January 1910). "Jasper Park in the Rockies: Canada's New National Playground". The Globe (1844-1936).
  15. ^ Reichwein 2014, pp. 6–7.
  16. ^ a b MacLaren 2011, pp. 334–335.
  17. ^ Murphy 2007b, p. 128.
  18. ^ Youdelis, Megan (21 March 2016). ""They could take you out for coffee and call it consultation!": The colonial antipolitics of Indigenous consultation in Jasper National Park". Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. 48 (7): 1374–1392. doi:10.1177/0308518x16640530. ISSN 0308-518X. S2CID 147221051.
  19. ^ MacLaren 2011, p. xxxvi n8.
  20. ^ Reichwein & McDermott 2007, p. 175.
  21. ^ a b MacLaren 2011, pp. xxii, xxvii.
  22. ^ "Parks Canada History: The National Parks Act, 1930". parkscanadahistory.com. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  23. ^ Murphy 2007a, pp. 104–106.
  24. ^ "Jasper's History". Tourism Jasper. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  25. ^ "OIC 1923-0115: Can. Govt. Rys. etc placed under the management and control of the C.N.R. Co". Privy Council of Canada. 20 January 1923.
  26. ^ Reichwein & McDermott 2007, p. 184.
  27. ^ Smith, Cyndi (1995). Jasper Park Lodge : in the heart of the Canadian Rockies (3rd ed.). Canmore, Alberta: Coyote Books. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-9692457-9-7.
  28. ^ Zezulka-Mailloux 2011, p. 241.
  29. ^ Taylor 2007, p. 202.
  30. ^ Reichwein 2014, p. 113.
  31. ^ Reichwein 2014, p. xix.
  32. ^ MacLaren 2011, p. xxiii.
  33. ^ Waiser 1995, pp. 3–4, 24–25.
  34. ^ Waiser 1995, pp. 24, 34.
  35. ^ Sandford 2010, p. 136.
  36. ^ Waiser 1995, p. 55.
  37. ^ Waiser 1995, pp. 67–68.
  38. ^ Waiser 1995, p. 71.
  39. ^ Waiser 1995, p. 174.
  40. ^ Waiser 1995, pp. 146–147.
  41. ^ a b c Elassar, Alaa (22 November 2020). "Canadian officials warn drivers not to let moose lick their cars". CNN. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  42. ^ "Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  43. ^ Parks Canada Agency, Government of Canada (21 March 2018). "Geology - Jasper National Park". www.pc.gc.ca. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  44. ^ Newton, Brandi (2 March 2016). "Athabasca River | The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  45. ^ "Sunwapta Falls". Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2007.
  46. ^ Higdon, Brianna (16 March 2020). "Website". Brianna Marie Lifestyle.
  47. ^ "CCN". Canadian Climate Normals 1981−2010. Environment Canada. Archived from the original on 11 March 2020. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  48. ^ "Jasper Warden". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  49. ^ Loup, Mat (10 September 2010). "US pet day celebrations launch animated 'Alpha and Omega' movie". Media centre. Archived from the original on 13 February 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  50. ^ "Alpha and Omega promo video". Tourism Jasper's blog. Tourism Jasper. 2010. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  51. ^ Mah, Bill (28 September 2010). "Jasper hopes for Hollywood bounce". Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  52. ^ White, Carrie (16 December 2010). "Tourism Jasper Has A Busy First Year". The Fitzhugh. Jasper, Canada: Aberdeen Publishing. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  53. ^ Remark Named. "KLM PH-BVP (Boeing 777 - MSN 44555) | Airfleets aviation". www.airfleets.net.

Works Cited