If you’re interested in exploring Canada’s stunning Jasper National Park, Edmonton is the closest major city to start your journey from. In the summer months, it’s only 4 hour’s drive, but it can take much longer during the winter months depending on road conditions. Of course, there are several other ways to get from Edmonton to Jasper and we reveal all your options and best pit stops in this post.
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Edmonton to Jasper
Driving is the most popular way to get from Edmonton to Jasper. If you don’t have your own vehicle there are shuttle bus services (which we detail below) and it’s possible to travel by train. From downtown Edmonton into Jasper townsite, it’s 360 km (224 miles), but from the Edmonton Airport, it’s a little further away – 382 km (237 miles).
Edmonton to Jasper by Car
The drive from Edmonton to Jasper usually takes about 4 hours and is mostly a flat drive until you hit the mountains, which is the very last bit of your drive.
Before you go, check the road conditions by calling 511, a free traffic information number for Alberta. This is especially important for the winter, but can also be helpful during forest fire season in late summer/early fall.
If you’re staying any amount of time in Jasper National Park, you’ll need a park pass. Currently, the pass costs $10.50 per adult per day, or $21/day for a family. If you’re planning to stay for a while, access different parks in Canada, or come back within the year, the Discovery Pass costs $145 for the whole family for one year and lets you into any Canadian National Park.
If you’d like to break up the drive from Edmonton to Jasper, you’re in luck. There’s plenty of places to make a pit stop. Here are our recommendations.
Pembina River Tubing
If you’re making the drive during the summer months, it’s worth stopping in Entwistle, which is about an hour and 15 minutes from Edmonton. This is the departure area for the Pembina River Float.
Park your car at the starting point just south of Entwistle, and rent a tube from Pembina River Tubing. If needed, you can arrange transportation with them to get back to your vehicle after your float. Book online in advance to ensure your spot.
You can also stop along the drive at the Pembina Provincial Park to camp or use the day-use area.
The first town you’ll arrive at on your way from Edmonton is Evansburg. If you can time it right, the Pembina Valley Daze festival is a fun family event to plan your drive around. The festival usually happens at the beginning of August and features a pancakes, town events, and the Grouch Games.
All year round you can make a pit stop at the Tipple Park Museum, a coal mining museum that tells the history of Evansburg and the area. Aside from the main museum building, there’s also a small historical village to wander through.
Next along the journey from Edmonton to Jasper is Edson. For the museum crowd, Edson has two interesting stops to check out. The first is the Galloway Station Museum, another coal mining museum. This one takes you back to the days of coal mining, but also features stories from miners around the world.
The other museum option is the Red Brick Museum and Arts Centre. This old school building has been turned into an art gallery and theatre. It also has museum exhibits in the school rooms and principal’s office.
For the outdoorsy members of the family, check out Willmore Park, located on the McLeod River. The 12.75 km loop trail is set up for easy walking and mountain biking. In winter, the paths are ideal for snowshoeing and the hills are just right for tobogganing. Be sure to pack your sled!
If you’re visiting in summer, you can cool off at Kinsmen Spray Park, a large outdoor splash pad at Kinsmen Park. Just make sure you bring some dry clothes for the remainder of the drive.
About an hour outside of Jasper townsite is Hinton. This town has the most options for getting out and stretching your legs.
The most popular stop in Hinton is the Beaver Boardwalk. The boardwalk is the longest freshwater boardwalk in the world, and it showcases the local wetland around Maxwell Lake. As the name suggests, you may just see a beaver! The best times to visit for beaver sightings are early morning and early evening during the summer months.
Hinton is also home to the Northern Rockies Museum, which is housed in the original Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Station. Unlike the other museums in this post, this one focuses on the history of the railway industry and the natural history of the surrounding area.
When it comes to food and drink, one not to miss is Folding Mountain Brewing. This restaurant overlooks the Rocky Mountains from its location on the edge of Jasper National Park. They offer bar food, pizza and lots of local beer and drinks.
For a quicker stop, check out The Old Grind, a local café that offers locally roasted espresso, all-day breakfasts, homestyle lunches and ice cream. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available for dine in or takeaway.
Miette Hot Springs
Located inside Jasper National Park, Miette Hot Springs are the hottest hot springs in the Rockies. It’s slightly off the highway by approximately 25-minutes (and an hour’s drive from Jasper townsite), but it’s worth the stop. Your legs will thank you!
Entry is affordable and there are family rates. You can rent (old fashioned) swimsuits and towels as well.
Sulphur Skyline Trail
This is a longer hike and might be a slog for beginners, but could be worth it for the views. The trail starts near the Miette Hot Springs and is about 8 km long. It’s steep and takes about 4-6 hours, so make sure you come prepare with proper hiking shoes, plenty of water, snacks and ALWAYS check the weather in advance. Once you make it to the top, you’ll be treated to incredible views of the Rockies and river valley.
Jasper Lakes Sand Dunes
During the last Ice Age, sand dunes were formed along Jasper Lake. You can find them, and Jasper Lake, along the highway between Jasper Lake and Talbot Lake – about 25 minutes outside of Jasper townsite. There’s a small turnoff where you can stop, see the dunes and relax by the water. The water’s shallow, so you can go in, but it’s glacier water. That means it’s absolutely freezing year-round.
Edmonton to Jasper Bus
If you don’t have a car or don’t want to drive yourself, there are two other ways to get to Jasper. The first is by bus.
SunDog Tours offers a daily connector route from Jasper to Edmonton. You can get on either at the Edmonton Airport or at West Edmonton Mall, and it usually arrives in Jasper around 8pm each night. The ride takes longer than the drive, as there are more stops, and it costs about $100 per person each way.
Cold Shot used to offer Monday to Friday transportation from their terminal in Edmonton. At the time of writing the service has been suspended, but check to see if it’s been reinstated.
Edmonton to Jasper Train
Probably the most scenic way to get to Jasper is by train. Train journeys such as those on VIA Rail take longer than going by car (about 7 hours vs 4 hours) and the tickets start at about $115 per person. Trains don’t run every day, but if you plan in advance, you’ll be in for one of those once in a lifetime journeys through the prairies and mountains.
Places to Stay in Jasper
Once you’ve arrived in Jasper, you’ll want to spend at least several days exploring this gem of a National Park. Here are some of our favourite places to stay in Jasper.
Cabins near Miette Hot Springs
Miette Mountain Cabins (formerly Pocahontas Cabins) are just off the highway – about a 30-minute drive from Jasper townsite. Ideal for families who want to experience being in nature, without having to camp, fully equipped cabins offer loft-style bedrooms and fireplaces. There’s also an outdoor pool and plenty of lawn games to amuse the kids.
Bear Hill Lodge
Within easy walking distance to downtown, Bear Hill Lodge is a hidden gem with tastefully decorated rooms, mountain views and plenty of outdoor space to let the kids run around.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Easily the most luxe accommodation in the National Park, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge has hosted several Kings and Queens and celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Robbie Williams. Many guest rooms come with fireplaces and all have fantastic views of the lake and forested grounds. Their heated outdoor pool is definitely a highlight.