In summer, accommodations in Jasper are expensive. All of the regular motels are within walking distance of town and most have restaurants. Luckily, alternatives to staying in $200-plus hotel rooms do exist. The best alternatives are the lodges scattered around the edge of town. Open in summer only, each offers a rustic yet distinct style of accommodation in keeping with the theme of staying in a national park.
Additionally, many private residences have rooms for rent in summer; three hostels are close to town; and there’s always camping in the good ol’ outdoors.
At last count, Jasper had more than 100 residential homes offering accommodations. Often they supply nothing more than a room with a bed, but the price is right — $50–100 s or d. Use of a bathroom may be shared with other guests or the family; few have kitchens and only a few supply light breakfast. In most cases, don’t expect too much with the lower-priced choices. The positive side, apart from the price, is that your hosts are usually knowledgeable locals and downtown is only a short walk away.
For a full listing that includes the facilities at each approved property, check the Jasper Home Accommodation Association website (www.stayinjasper.com). The Park Information Centre has a board listing private-home accommodations with rooms available for the upcoming night.
On the road to the Jasper Tramway, seven kilometers (4.3 miles) south from town off the Icefields Parkway, is HI–Jasper (780/852-3215 or 877/852-0781, www.hihostels.ca), which has 84 beds, a large kitchen, a common room, showers, laundry, public Internet access, an outdoor barbecue area, and mountain-bike rentals. Members of Hostelling International pay $26, nonmembers $30. Private rooms are $63 and $71 s or d respectively. Private rooms are $60 and $70 s or d respectively. In the summer months this hostel fills up every night. The front desk is open daily noon–midnight.
HI–Maligne Canyon (June–Sept., members $23, nonmembers $27) is on Maligne Lake Road, beside the Maligne River and a short walk from the canyon. Although rustic, it lies in a beautiful setting. The 24 dorm beds are in two cabins; other amenities include electricity, a kitchen, and a dining area.
HI–Mount Edith Cavell (mid-June–mid-Oct., members $23, nonmembers $27) offers a million-dollar view for the price of a dorm bed. It’s 13 kilometers (eight miles) up Cavell Road off Highway 93A, and because of the remote location there’s usually a spare bed. Opposite the hostel are trailheads for hiking in the Tonquin Valley, and it’s just a short walk to the base of Mount Edith Cavell. The hostel is rustic (no showers and only pit toilets) but has a kitchen, dining area, and outdoor wood sauna. Check-in is 5–11 p.m.
If you’re simply looking for somewhere to rest your head, consider Jasper’s least expensive hotel rooms at the downtown Athabasca Hotel (510 Patricia St., 780/852-3386 or 877/542-8422, www.athabascahotel.com, from $105 s or d), which dates to 1928. The cheapest of its 61 rooms share bathrooms and are above a noisy bar, but the price is right. This hotel also has more expensive rooms, each with a vaguely Victorian decor and private bathrooms ($149–179 s or d).
Becker’s Chalets (780/852-3779, www.beckerschalets.com, May–mid-Oct., $160–250 s or d) is spread along a picturesque bend on the Athabasca River six kilometers (3.7 miles) south of town. Moderately priced chalets, each with kitchenette, gas fireplace, and double bed ($145, or $175 for those on the riverfront), are an excellent deal. Becker’s also boasts one of the park’s finest restaurants.
With a variety of cabin layouts and a central location, Bear Hill Lodge (100 Bonhomme St., 780/852-3209, www.bearhilllodge.com, mid-Apr.–mid-Oct., $189–225 s or d) makes a great base camp for travelers who want the cabin experience within walking distance of downtown. The original cabins are basic, but each has a TV, bathroom, gas fireplace, and coffee-making facilities. Also offered are larger rooms with wood-burning fireplaces.
A short distance south along Highway 93A from downtown, at the junction of the Icefields Parkway three kilometers (1.9 miles) south of town, is Alpine Village (780/852-3285, www.alpinevillagejasper.com, late Apr.–mid-Oct., $190–320 s or d). This resort is laid out across well-manicured lawns, and all buildings are surrounded by colorful gardens of geraniums and petunias. After a day exploring the park, guests can soak away their cares in the outdoor hot pool or kick back on a row of Adirondack chairs scattered along the Athabasca River. The older sleeping cabins have been renovated, while the Deluxe Bedroom Suites, which opened in 2009, feature open plans, stone fireplaces, luxurious bathrooms, and decks with private forested views.
Right downtown is the Astoria Hotel (404 Connaught Dr., 780/852-3351 or 800/661-7343, www.astoriahotel.com, $182 s or d). This European-style lodging was built in 1924 and has been kept in the same family ever since. Rooms are brightly furnished and each has a fridge, TV, and VCR. Outside of summer, these same rooms cost from $120. Note that there is no elevator in this two-story hotel.
The lure of Tekarra Lodge (Hwy. 93A, 1.6 km/one mi south from downtown, 780/852-3058 or 888/962-2522, www.tekarralodge.com, mid-May–early Oct., $210–290 s or d) is its historic log cabins and forest above the confluence of the Miette and Athabasca Rivers. Each cabin has been totally modernized yet retains a cozy charm, with comfortable beds, fully equipped kitchenettes, wood-burning fireplaces, and smallish but adequate bathrooms. The spacious Athabasca Cabins are well-suited for small families. An on-site restaurant is open for breakfast (7:30–11 a.m.) and dinner (5–11 p.m.).
Similarly priced are the Tonquin Inn (100 Juniper St., 780/852-4987 or 800/661-1315, www.tonquininn.com, from $211–398 s or d), with an outdoor hot tub, laundry facilities, a steakhouse restaurant, and a sunny lounge bar; and Maligne Lodge (900 Connaught Ave., 780/852-3143 or 800/661-1315, www.malignelodge.com, $204–271 s or d). These places are worth considering outside of summer, when the cabin accommodations are closed and rates are discounted substantially.
It’s impossible to miss the sprawling grounds of Coast Pyramid Lake Resort (780/852-4900 or 888/962-2522, www.coasthotels.com; late April–late Oct.; $225–325 s or d), across the road from Pyramid Lake. Plenty of water-based activities and rentals, a fitness center, and a large barbecue area make the resort a good choice for families.
At Château Jasper (96 Geikie St., 780/852-5644 or 800/661-1315, www.chateaujasper.com, $298 s or d), guest rooms are spacious and elegantly finished with maple furnishings and low ceilings that give them a cozy feel. Bathrooms are particularly well equipped, with guests also enjoying the use of plush bathrobes. The in-house dining room, Silverwater Grill, combines a café that pours some of Jasper’s finest coffee with a bistro-style restaurant.
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (780/852-3301 or 800/257-7544, www.fairmont.com, from $398 s or d) lies along the shore of Lac Beauvert (meaning “beautiful green lake” in French), across the Athabasca River from downtown. As the park’s original resort and its most famous, it covers a sprawling property with plenty of activities. The best known of these is the golf course, but guests also enjoy walking trails, horseback riding, canoeing, tennis, and swimming in an outdoor heated pool that remains open year-round. The main lodge features stone floors, carved wooden pillars, and a high ceiling.
This building contains multiple restaurants and lounges, an activity booking desk, a fitness room, a game room, and Jasper’s only covered shopping arcade. The 446 rooms vary in configuration and are spread out over the expansive property. All have coffeemakers, TV, telephones, and Internet access. The least expensive Fairmont Rooms are smallish, hold two twin beds, and offer limited views. Also away from the lake are larger Deluxe Rooms; each has a patio or balcony. Junior Suites have a distinct country charm, and each has either a sitting room and balcony or patio with lake views. Moving up to the more expensive options, Lakeview Suites overlook Lac Beauvert and are backed by the 18th fairway of the golf course. Each features a patio or balcony, fireplace, and two TVs.
For a super-splurge, consider the cabins (starting from $800). Most guests don’t pay the summer rack rates quoted here. The cost of lodging is usually included in one of the plethora of packages offered (click on the “Package Finder” link on the Fairmont website for all the options). Outside of summer, The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge becomes a real bargain, with rooms with lake views (remember it’ll be frozen in winter) for less than $200.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition