Jasper Wapiti Campground Review
Despite being born and raised in Alberta I’d never made the journey to Jasper National Park. That was a mistake – it’s incredible. Put off by the long drive difficulty booking a campsite (tip: book far in advance) and high costs of accommodation I kept pushing a trip there down the list of destinations.
However after writing an article about the national park last year I was determined to visit it this year. I made plans in advance and managed to snag spots on the August long weekend. It was definitely my favourite camping trip of 2018 and I would definitely recommend staying in Wapiti.
Jasper National Park
Part of UNESCO’s Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage site Jasper National Park has a lot to offer whether you’re travelling alone with friends or with family. Named after trading post operater Jasper Hawes the park was established in September 1907 and became a national park in 1930. The park offers incredible natural formation glaciers fossils and wildlife. It’s also a dark sky preserve. There’s so much to explore no matter if you’re experienced or a total beginner when it comes to camping and outdoor activities.
This is an excellent campground to base yourself out of to experience Jasper National Park year round. It’s also an affordable option running from $27.40 to $32.30 per night depending on the site. There are 362 summer and 93 winter spots each with a picnic table and fire pit. Each site is quite large and well treed. There is ample space in between sites and a decent amount of privacy.
Amenities include flush toilets with running water in each loop hot showers covered cooking areas a sanidump and a playground. A fire permit is $8.80 per site per night – unlimited firewood is included! There is also a big sink and washing area outside of the bathrooms which is convenient. The bathrooms don’t always have hot water but the showers ran at a good temperature.
The campground is located right next to the Athabasca River and it’s lovely to walk down there in the morning or evening. You can clamber down to the water and stick your feet in – it’s freezing! There are also lots of trails and frequently wildlife wanders through the campground. Make sure you keep all food and cooking supplies in food lockers your vehicle or a hard-sided trailer.
Getting to Wapiti Campground
Located just south of Jasper Wapiti is a bit of a drive however it’s a gorgeous journey with lots of places to stop off for a quick rest or hike to take in the beauty.
From Calgary you head west on the Trans Canada Highway and head north at Lake Louise on Highway 93 – the Icefield Parkway. It’s 5 hours of mountains glaciers lakes and forests.
The drive is 4 hours from Edmonton a straight shot on Highway 16. You can always stop at the Miette Hotsprings for a relaxing dip or stop in Jasper to stock up on groceries before you arrive at the campground.
You can choose to head NW from Red Deer on Highway 20 and 39 then head west on Highway 16 to reach Wapiti in just over 5 hours. Or head west on Highway 11 turning north onto Highway 93 at Saskatchewan Crossing to arrive in just under 5 hours.
From Lethbridge head north to Calgary and take the same route – the Trans Canada west until Highway 93 then head north. It takes approximately 7 hours.
Things to Do Near Wapiti
One of the best things about Wapiti is that it’s only a 10 minute drive from the Jasper townsite – or you can walk or ride your bike on the bath from the campground to the town. It’s conveniently located near many trail heads or you can easily hop onto the highway to get to another place to explore.
The municipality of Jasper is a great place to spend a day escape the rain or cold or take a break from the camping life. Explore the town with its picturesque views of the mountains and quaint streets filled with souvenir shops and delicious restaurants. Stop by the Jasper Heritage Railway Station the Jasper Information Centre the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum and the Jasper Firehall to learn more about this incredible town and park. You can also check out the fitness and aquatic centre for indoor climbing swimming and more.
I definitely recommend stopping into Jasper for a meal. There are some seriously fantastic cafes and restaurants offering a variety of cuisines. Take a picture next to the bear statue and the totem pole and don’t forget to stock up on what you need at the town’s grocery stores.
2. Dark Sky Preserve
While the annual Dark Sky Festival takes place in October you can enjoy stunning panoramas of the night sky year-round. Jasper National Park is a dark sky preserve meaning that light pollution is greatly reduced or even eliminated. That makes it a fantastic place to stargaze or try to view the northern lights.
3. Miette Hotsprings
On the eastern edge of Jasper National Park the Miette Hotsprings are a great place to relax and experience the beauty of the mountains in the hottest mineral springs in the Rockies. It’s affordable too at only $7.05 for an adult $5.15 for a youth and $20.35 for a family (2 adults and 2 youth).
There are trails for everyone from the most beginner to the most expert of hikers. Whether you’re looking for an easy walk to break up your drive or a multi-day back country adventure Jasper has it all. You can explore glaciers forests lakes and incredible viewpoints. Explore your day hike options here . I recommend Peyto Lake Sunwapta Falls Athabasca Falls Athabasca Glacier Toe Valley of the Five Lakes and Maligne Canyon for easy yet scenic hikes. You can often add on to these trails to make for a fuller day of hiking or add some challenge.
Road biking is very popular in Jasper. There are a wide variety of suggested routes based on how long you want to spend on your bike – you can view them here . Make sure you’re prepared with food and water weather gear and bear safety equipment.
Mountain biking is another popular pastime suitable for all experience levels. There are two main hubs – “Across the River” and “Pyramid Beach.” The former is best suited for beginners and families while the latter provides more difficult routes for intermediate and expert riders. This guide provides recommendations on where to go and describes the trails.
6. In the Water
Kayaking and canoeing on one of Jasper’s lakes is an incredible experience. Take the kids to Lake Annette or Lake Edith or check out Pyramid Lake or Medicine Lake yourself. Boat launches are available on several lakes but gas-powered motors are prohibited in the park.
You can also try paddle boarding and traction kiting if you’re feeling more adventurous with rentals available from Jasper. Rafting is also available in the park through tour companies such as White Water Rafting Jasper .
If you’re interested in fishing make sure you stop at the Visitor Information Centre to pick up a fishing permit.
7. Rock Climbing
Rock climbing and mountaineering are also popular for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s recommended that you be very conservative when it comes to selecting your climb as the terrain can be difficult. If you don’t have experience but would like to try Rockaboo provides guided tours.
Parks Canada hosts daily events to entertain and educate visitors. The Heritage Firehall in the Jasper townsite has several exhibits and programs on indigenous culture and wildlife as well as helpful staff to answer your questions. Whistler Campground is home to the Xplorer program for families as well as campfire stories. Wabasso also has themed campfires throughout the weekend to learn about the history and wildlife of Jasper. Guided walks are also available.
For the full schedule of all interpretive programs click here .
There are many tour companies in Jasper offering adventure. Explore the glaciers take a cruise on a lake have a guide give you a personal kayak or hiking experience take part in the adventure of a lifetime with whitewater rafting and seek out the incredible wildlife of Jasper.
Winter in Jasper is an incredible experience. Several campgrounds are open year round with sites going on a first-come first-served basis. Wapiti even offers 40 electric sites.
What do you do in the winter (besides huddle by the campfire)? Head to Marmot Basin for downhill skiing or explore Jasper National Park’s incredible trails via cross-country skis fat tire bikes or snowshoes. Skate the incredible lakes and take part in a game of hockey. View the glaciers and northern lights in their prime during the winter months. You can also take the opportunity to go dog-sledding – a truly unique and fun experience!
At the end of your trip
You’ll probably want to never leave. I definitely felt that Jasper National Park was worth a longer visit. The long weekend wasn’t nearly enough for me. Not only is the town itself worth exploring there are countless activities and lots to see and do. Wapiti is a great campground to base yourself out of especially if you’re a first-timer or have a family. With its great sites amenities and location you really can’t go wrong.