“Don’t move, don’t even breathe”, I hissed at my 10-year old daughter. No, we weren’t facing down a grizzly bear on a back-country trail. I was steering a stand-up paddleboard on Lac Beauvert in Jasper National Park. It wasn’t my first time manoeuvring a SUP but it was the first time I had a wiggly passenger. We were also in the middle of the glacier-fed lake and I did not want to fall into the frigid water. Floating across Lac Beauvert has been on my bucket list since I first walked along its shores several years ago. I just hadn’t pictured it being quite this harrowing.
Jasper National Park is a popular weekend retreat for families in nearby Edmonton and Calgary as well as long-stay visitors from around the world. Soaring mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons, and limestone caves make Jasper National Park, a proud UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the most beautiful places in the world. Jasper is one of those truly magical places on our planet that once you arrive you breathe a little deeper and simply slow down.
My favourite place to stay in this beautiful national park is the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Opened in 1922 the resort is the home of well-maintained summer camp nostalgia with all the modern conveniences. The property sprawls 700 acres including a world-class golf course, a 10 000 square-foot spa, eight dining options, a boathouse and soaring views of the Rocky Mountains across Lac Beauvert from their a year-round heated pool.
Cozy cabins dot the shoreline of Lac Beauvert and are filled with Fairmont luxuries including their comfortable signature beds, fragrant Le Labo amenities, and in-room gourmet coffee. Their oversized patios are perfect for soaking up the sun, gazing upon the ever-changing aqua to emerald hues of Lac Beauvert while sipping some bubbly.
Although vacations are about relaxation, we also have active kids who love adventure. On-site, Jasper Park Lodge offers its guests daily hosted activities including art classes, yoga and meditation, kayak lessons, golf lessons, a Voyageur Canoe tour, and more.
Mountain bike rentals, standup paddleboards, and pedal boats are free of charge for hotel guests for some independent venturing around the resort.
Off-property there are a number of close-by hikes and other lakes to explore. The hardest part was narrowing down the best hikes for kids with the time we had.
Walking the 3.9 km loop around Lac Beauvert was an easy first start. After a long drive to Jasper, we went for a relaxing walk around the lake. The path is wide and there are a number of interpretive trail markers that provide some insight on the local flora and fauna. It’s also a great way to get a view of Jasper Park Lodge from across the lake.
On day two we hiked the Valley of the Five Lakes. The 4.5 km trail features bridges and boardwalks, fallen trees to climb over and of course, a loop circumnavigating five lakes varying in shades of pale turquoise to deepest emerald.
The third lake has a great photo op with the famous Parks Canada red chairs. The last lake has a dock for hot, tired and hearty trekkers to jump in the frigid waters. The water is heart-stopping cold so brace yourself if you decide to go for it.
After our hike, we grabbed bikes from the Boat House and did some backcountry biking to Edith Lake and Lake Annette. These lakes are not very far from the hotel and can be reached by foot as well. There is a wide gravel trail, suitable for strollers, walkers, and cyclists called Woodpecker Trail or there are little back trails if you want a few jumps and bumps on your bike along the way. The shallow water at theses lakes makes the water mildly warmer for avid swimmers and is popular with the locals.
Our final day we went to the not-to-be-missed Maligne Canyon. This hike is close to Jasper Park Lodge. The 3.4 km trail has well-marked maps along the pathway, which is mostly paved and offers different routes. The 160-foot drop and thundering water rushing through the canyon below are breathtaking. If you are travelling with little ones and don’t plan to walk the entire loop, try to get as far as the third bridge. The third bridge is where you will find a spectacular waterfall.
After working up an appetite from all the hikes, bikes, and water activities, we needed to eat. At Jasper Park Lodge, there are eight onsite dining options which range from traditional Italian fare at Oros Trattoria, wild game, organic meats and local seafood at Moose’s Nook Chophouse and classic Japanese dishes at Oka Sushi.
At all the restaurants, kids under 5 eat free and anyone under 12 can order off the adult menu for 50% off.
For a quick bite, Fitzhugh’s To Go offers Canadian gourmet foods, including fresh sandwiches with fine meat. You can also arrange a picnic lunch here to take in a backpack or in a whimsical wicker basket.
In town, our favourite haunt is the Jasper Brewing Company. Their menu boasts small-batch, craft beers with an impressive menu to rival their brews. Try the Campfire Creme Brûlée. Toasted marshmallow custard, graham cracker crumble, chocolate nut bark, completed with a smouldering stick of cinnamon on the side, just to give it that authentic campfire effect. Amazing.
If you still have some energy to burn, spend your night in the world’s largest accessible Dark Sky Preserve. A number of years ago, the townsite of Jasper became vigilant about reducing their light pollution. In 2011, Jasper was designated as a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. This is the ultimate place to go star-gazing.
Jasper Park Lodge is home to the Dark Sky Preserve Experience. The planetarium dome theatre offers a guided film tour of our solar system with an educational component highlighting the variations in names of the Latin and Greek constellations and the star stories from our nation’s indigenous communities.
For more information about Jasper Park Lodge and to check out some of their great offers including Alberta Residents Rates, Midweek Travel Packages, and their Adventure Passport Offer, visit: www.fairmont.com/jasper/
The writer was a guest of Sun Peaks Resort. Sun Peaks did not read, review or approve this story prior to publication.
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