Jasper is a specialized municipality in western Alberta, Canada. It is the commercial centre of Jasper National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies within the Athabasca River valley. Jasper is approximately 362 kilometres (225 mi) west of Edmonton and 290 kilometres (180 mi) north of Banff, Alberta, at the intersection of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) and Highway 93 (Icefields Parkway).
The Municipality of Jasper, comprising the Jasper townsite known as the Town of Jasper and a surrounding rural service area, was established as a specialized municipality on July 20, 2001. Governance is shared between the municipality and the federal Parks Canada agency.
Established in 1813, Jasper House was first a North West Company, and later Hudson’s Bay Company, fur trade outpost on the York Factory Express trade route to what was then called “New Caledonia” (now British Columbia), and Fort Vancouver in Columbia District on the lower Columbia River.
Jasper National Park was established in 1907. The railway siding at the location of the future townsite was established by Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1911 and originally named Fitzhugh after a Grand Trunk vice president (along the Grand Trunk’s “alphabet” line). The Canadian Northern Railway began service to Fitzhugh in 1912. The townsite was surveyed in 1913 by H. Matheson. It was renamed Jasper after the former fur trade post. An internment camp was set up at Dominion Park in Jasper from February 1916 to August 1916.
Jasper is located in the Athabasca River valley, at the confluence with Miette River. It lies between the Victoria Cross Ranges (northwest), Pyramid Mountain (north), Maligne Range(southeast) and Indian Ridge (southwest).
Jasper is connected to the west via the Yellowhead Highway and the Yellowhead Pass to Prince George and to the east to Edmonton. Toward the south, the Icefields Parkway leads to Banff and Banff National Park.
Located near Jasper are Pyramid Lake and Patricia Lake, as well as Lake Annette, Lake Edith, Lac Beauvert, Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake and other smaller lakes. The Jasper Skytram, which takes visitors to The Whistlers’ summit, and the Marmot Basin ski resort are located near the town, as is the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. The Jasper-Yellowhead Museum and Archives is located in the Jasper town site, as is the Jasper Visitor Centre.
Jasper experiences a borderline Humid Continental/Subarctic climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb/Dfc). The highest temperature ever recorded in Jasper was 36.7 °C (98 °F) on 16 July 1941. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −47.2 °C (−53 °F) on 24 January 1916.
Jasper was named after Jasper Hawes, who operated a trading post in the region for the North West Company. Before this it was referred to as Fitzhugh. The park was established on September 14, 1907 as Jasper Forest Park, and was granted national park status in 1930, with the passing of the National Parks Act. In 2014, Jasper National Park had 2,154,710 visitors. Mammalian species found in the park are the elk, caribou ( also known as Reindeer,) moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer, porcupine, lynx, beaver, two species of fox, marten, pika, grizzly bear, coyote, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, black bear, timber wolf, hoary marmot, cougar, and wolverine. The most common birds that fly around this park including raptors are bald eagles, golden eagles, Great horned owls, spruce grouses, white-tailed ptarmigans, bohemian waxwings, and evening grosbeaks. Canada geese and red-necked grebes mostly float on Maligne Lake.
Some of the park’s scenic attractions include Mount Edith Cavell, Pyramid Lake with Pyramid Mountain, Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake, and the Tonquin Valley. Other attractions are the Marmot Basin ski area; the Snocoach tours of the Athabasca Glacier, an outlet glacier of the Columbia Icefield; Athabasca Falls; the Jasper Skytram, and numerous other outdoor related recreational activities (such as hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, rafting, kayaking and camping). The Miette Hot Springs are located close to the northeast entrance. The Miette Hot Springs are created by an extremely hot spring cooled by the mountain to temperatures suitable for humans.
The Icefields Parkway is a highway 230 km (140 mi) in length from Lake Louise, Alberta in Banff National Park, to Jasper, Alberta. The highway parallels the continental divide, providing motor and cycle access to the mountains. The Athabasca and Sunwapta Falls are both accessible by the road.
- Dark-sky preserve
- Ecology of the Rocky Mountains
- List of historic places in Alberta’s Rockies
- List of trails in Alberta
- List of mountains in Alberta