Where: Canadian Rocky Mountains, West Canada
When to go: Late spring to early autumn
Nature: Superb conservation projects are protected the limited numbers of caribou and grizzly bears. You’ll also find elk, moose, mountain goat, coyote, mountain lions, and wolves.
Best sights: take a scenic drive along hte Icefields Parkway to climb the Athabasca Glacier – a huge body of ice
Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies is less well known and crowded than neighboring Banff – but no less beautiful. It’s the largest National Mountain Park in Canada with utterly breathtaking scenery and is home to an incredible array of wildlife – elk, moose, deer, mountain goat, coyotes, mountain lions, bears, birds of prey, wolves, and caribou.
Caribou used to range across West Canada but are now named as a species at risk. Banff only has four animals left, while Jasper has 200 to 350 but their numbers have also declined. There are two distinct herds in the park – the northern herd that roams in North Jasper in the mountains and the southern one that roams through the Maligne, Tonquin, Jonas Creek, and Poboktan Passareas.
Parks Canada has been conducting a research project for the last two years into why the caribou numbers are dwindling and how the caribou and wolf communities are affected by human influences. So far, they’ve been able to establish that wolves use roads and seismic lines to increase their efficiency when hunting caribou. The number of caribou in this area has stayed pretty consistent but have failed to increase.
The Grizzly Bear Project
The Foothills Model Forest Grizzly Bear Research Programme was created in 1999 to provide knowledge and planning tools to land and resource managers to ensure the long-term conservation of grizzly bears in Alberta. Key to its efforts are sound scientific field research, practical results, and a large-scale, or landscape level, approach toward grizzly bear conservation.
Of primary focus is grizzly bear management. As a result, the programme is assessing bear populations and evaluating bear responses to human activities and habitat conditions. Significant research findings for both land and wildlife management and the development of important land management tools were developed during the programs first five years of research to monitor the population, health and other aspects crucial to the bears survival.
Trekking and the Natural beauty
There’s infinite possibilities for exploration in the park. The best way to enter Jasper National Park is from Banff along the Icefields Parkway, one of the world’s great scenic drives. The Icefield covers 125 square kilometers and it’s the largest body of ice in the Rockies. While most of the Icefield lies hidden,a part of it known as the Athabasca Glacier can be experienced up-close.
Once in the park there are almost infinite trekking possibilities and Jasper is renowned for its backcountry trails which are excellent for hiking or cycling. Highlights include:
– Mount Brazeau, 3470 meters (11,385 feet) high, is named after Joseph Brazeau who was a fur trader in the 1830s before he joined the Hudson’s Bay Company. Despite its beauty it can be a very dangerous and you shouldn’t come up here without a guide.
– The Miette Springs, situated at the base of the mountain, are naturally hot springs – the hottest in the Canadian Rockies. The water flows from the mountain at 54C and is cooled to a comfortable temperature of 40C.
– Maligne Canyon is one of the Canadian Rockies’ most scenic gorges with sheer limestone walls that plunge down over 50 meters. You can follow an interpretive trail from above or take a Canyon Tour across the bottom.
– Maligne Lake is the world’s second largest glacier-fed lake with picture perfect clear waters. Around here you can try fishing, hiking, horseback riding as well as cross country skiing in winter.
– The Athabasca Falls are dazzling in their power, fuelled by the thundering Athabasca Riverthat channels through a narrow gorge.
main image: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47637113
Contact: Peter Lemieux
Telephone: 780 852 3803/877 423 7433
Reservations at the Columbia Icefield Centre or Jasper Adventure Centre
Chaba Theatre, 604 Connaught Drive
Telephone: 852 5595 or 1 800 565 7547
Contact: Todd Noble (Sales & Marketing)
Jasper, Alberta, Canada
Tel: 780 852 3093
Fax: 780 852 5779
Toll Free: 1 866 850 8726 (TRAM)
For incredible views of Jasper Townside and the surrounding area.
Miette Hot Springs
Contact: Jill Hughes
PO Box 2579
T0E 1E0, Canada
For some relaxation with the mountains as a stunning backdrop.
Contact: John Saunders/Brad Armstrong
Box 6478 Hinton
Alberta, T7V 1X6, Canada
For custom-made packages and mountain Heli-Tours in the spectacular Rocky Mountains..
Foothills Model Forest
Contact: Lisa Risvold Jones
For more information on the world’s largest grizzly bear project.
Juniper St between Connaught Dr and Geikie St
T0E 1E0, Canada
A great bar and fabulous food for dinner.
640 Connaught Drive
T0E 1E0, Canada
One of Jasper’s best places for dinner.
Denjiro Japanese Restaurant
410 Connaught Drive
T0E 1E0, Canada
Telephone: 780 852-3780
For fabulous Japanese food in authentic surroundings.
By Richard Cooke