Dehydration, food poisoning and a rolled ankle couldn’t stop me from enjoying a recent trip to Jasper National Park. I explored the park more than I have on any other trip. In the past I always came to the park either as a family trip, ski trip or for a specific shoot. Traveling solo allowed me to make my own travel itinerary and visit no fewer than 7 lakes, three waterfalls and complete one hike within 17 hours of being in the park.
I defiantly shot myself in the leg in a few ways. First, I woke up at 1:30 am and decided to hit the road at 3:30 am. So I was a pretty tired person rolling into the townsite of Jasper at 8:00 am. Arriving this early had a few benefits, Jasper tourists were mostly still asleep so I had a few epic sights all to myself that morning!
Instead of taking it easy, I threw myself into seeing as many things as possible. By 11:30 am I was meeting Alisha and Mohit for a hike at Valley of Five Lakes. What we thought would be a quick hour hike turned into three hours, and although we drank water, it was heckin’ hot out. I hadn’t had a snack since 9:00 am, and when our hike was over, I rushed out to Maligne Lake for a boat cruise without eating! When the boat cruise was done and I was finally back at Maligne Lodge didn’t feel like going out in search of food, so I ordered in. I won’t name the restaurant, but I 100% got food poisoning. Dehydration and food poisoning are not a winning combo on the same night. I crawled into bed and prayed for the best.
Sunrise brought new energy at 7:00 am. I no longer felt like I was dying. When I checked out of my room, the town of Jasper was still sleeping. I decided to explore further south and find a lake I’d heard was great for cliff jumping. Well, I found it, and that rocky shore is where I rolled my ankle. Alone in the woods I just wanted to make it back to my car without getting eaten by a bear. At that point I was easy bear bait hobbling along at a snails pace. Since I’m writing this, adrenaline obviously prevailed and I made it back to the Escape. This might have all been a sign to slow down and head back home, but instead I kept going until it was finally time to hit the road and head back to Edmonton that afternoon, to make it back home in time for a family portrait session scheduled for that evening.
In this post I’m sharing a few of my favourite lakes located in Jasper National Park. I’m a lover of all things water: lakes, rivers, waterfalls, puddles, etc. Our Rocky Mountains are blessed with some of the most beautiful lakes on this planet. As I share this list with you, I need to acknowledge that Jasper National Park is a colonized space. I am a visitor there, and Parks Canada has a peaceful relationship with Canada’s indigenous peoples. The following is an excerpt from the Parks Canada website:
“However, that has not always been the case. Indigenous peoples were excluded when Canada’s first national parks were created. When Banff National Park of Canada was established in 1885, Stoney Indians who had travelled and hunted in the area for centuries were kept out of the park. Indigenous peoples were not involved when seven national parks were established in the early twentieth century, mostly in southern Canada. And traditional hunting and gathering was prohibited in these parks.” https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/agence-agency/aa-ia/te-wt/introduction
My first ever and certainly not last lake cruise to see Spirit Island and the Hall of the Gods. Overall I was impressed with Alexis our tour guide and Captain Nick on the Maligne Lake Cruise. I guess this “the year” to take the tour as tourist numbers are low due to Covid 19 travel restrictions. I appreciated Alexis’ inclusion of Jasper National Park’s dark colonial history in the tour notes.
While Spirit Island is a gem, my true love for this site is the view called Hall of the Gods. I would take the cruise again (this spot is only accessible via the cruise or a hours long paddle out to the site) just to sit on this dock and stare at the world for a while.
First Lake, Valley of the Five Lakes
I think we took a wrong turn and were trying to find the Fifth Lake and it’s dock (we did not find it!) but we did find a stunning view from the far side of the First Lake. I recommend 2.5 – 3 hours for this hike. Alisha, Mohit and I took a bit longer as we frequently stopped for photos.
One of my favourite features of this hike is the meadow before you even hit the lakes. Covered in wildflowers, this is an ideal spot for a picnic and mountain viewing.
A perfect spot for an early morning visit, Lake Annette has a small beach as well as a dock. It’s close to the townsite which makes it an easy trip if you have kiddos with you who may not be up for a more lengthy tour. The perfect spot for a morning coffee or evening star gazing.
The internet says that Lake Annette is warm enough for swimming on a hot day!
This is where I rolled my ankle, but I still think it’s worth it. By far, this is my favourite spot that I found. I think I’m in love with the feeling of peace and seclusion here. It’s a short walk from the parking lot and worth the emerald green against the rocking cliffs.
Come early in the morning if you want to get a chance to take an uninterrupted photo of Pyramid Lake’s boardwalk. It’s a hot spot for tourists who are in a constant stream of come and go from the small island. While the boardwalk is beautiful, my favourite view is of Pyramid Mountain, which you can view from the farthest point on the island.
If you really really love this spot, the island is bookable for wedding ceremonies.