Photo: Mumemories/Shutterstock

How to Plan the Perfect Autumn Visit to Jasper National Park

National Parks Epic Stays
by Maureen Hochdorf Sep 29, 2023

Imagine waking up to gorgeous lake views surrounded by misty mountains and trees lining the horizon as far as the eye can see. That’s the magic of Jasper National Park, the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, where I recently spent a cozy retreat to welcome the fall season. Coming from the scorching heat of Phoenix, Arizona, my lungs craved the crisp morning air, while the desert girl in me relished and autumnal mountain hues — and I soaked it all in from the private balcony of an alpine lodge on the shores of Pyramid Lake.

Having access to cozy accommodations within park bounds is one of the best reasons to visit to Jasper when the weather is still welcoming but the temperature is starting to drop. Here’s what you need to know to plan the perfect autumn getaway to Jasper National Park, including what to do, where to eat, and where to stay.

Things to do in Jasper National Park in autumn

Jasper National Park is open year-round, but those in the know generally agree that it’s particularly special in autumn when the crowds have died down, the wildlife has ramped up, the daylight is ideal for nature photography, and the night sky is flush with stars — Jasper National Park is the world’s second-largest dark sky preserve, after all. These are the autumn excursions you won’t want to miss.

Maligne Lake Cruise


Photo: Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit

Maligne Lake is one of Jasper National Park’s highlights, and the best way to see it between spring and fall is by boat. Surrounded by glacier-peaked mountains, the Maligne Lake Cruise takes you inside the lake to Spirit Island, a protected piece of sacred land for the Indigenous people of the area. The cruise is about an hour long (in total) with a 20-minute stop to walk along the pathways that overlook Spirit Island.

Maligne Canyon


Photo: Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit

The deepest canyon in Jasper National Park, Maligne Canyon hosts six bridges, several waterfalls, and various levels of hikes over the canyon. It’s beautiful and accessible during the fall, but you can also walk directly on the canyon’s frozen floor on a guided ice walk in the winter. After hiking up an appetite, grab a bite to eat at the cozy, lodge-style Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen, either inside or on the deck for even more views.

Athabasca Falls


Photo: kavram/Shutterstock

One of the most powerful waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies, Athabasca Falls is classified as a Class 5 waterfall along the Athabasca River. With several short paved trails surrounding the falls, it’s a great place to stop and see the waterfalls up close and personal. There’s also a footbridge that crosses over the canyon for a more challenging trail.

Peyto Lake



Located in neighboring Banff National Park, stunning Peyto Lake is shaped like a wolf’s head with vibrant turquoise. The hike up to the summit is short (about 15 minutes) but quite steep. The reward is the view from Bow Summit, which looks out over the glaciers, lakes, rivers, and mountains that the Canadian Rockies are famous for.

Lake Louise


Photo: BGSmith/Shutterstock

Also located in Banff National Park, Lake Louise is the most famous water body in the region, which makes the shockingly blue, glacier-fed lake a popular destination. Unlike Peyto or Maligne Lake, parking can be an issue, and most days, the parking lots fill up early in the day. If you have a car and want to spend the day at Lake Louise, arrive as early as possible in the morning to get a spot – especially in high season.

Downtown Jasper


Photo: Shawn.ccf/Shutterstock

Don’t forget to carve out some time to check out Jasper’s downtown with its specialty shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes. It’s the best place to grab an adorable Jasper moose or bear souvenir, or stop in for a drink or meal at the Terra Restaurant. The menu changes often, featuring locally sourced ingredients that always reflect the freshest seasonal ingredients.

Where to stay in Jasper National Park: Pyramid Lake Lodge


Photo: Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit

Located on the edge of Pyramid Lake, about 10 minutes north of downtown Jasper by car, Pyramid Lake Lodge stations guests in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

The Founders Rooms are the lodge’s newest lodging option, with rustic wood accents and mountain decor that fuse perfectly with modern amenities to form a romantic getaway for nature lovers. There are 12 Founders Rooms in total — all with a private balcony and exclusive lake views, as well as a king-sized bed, oversized shower, mini-fridge, fully stocked coffee and tea station, seating area, in-room safe, and air conditioning. The top-floor rooms also have indoor gas fireplaces and vaulted ceilings to add another level of coziness.


Photo: Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit

I loved the private feel inside my cabin and on the balcony. Although you’re next to other guests, you feel like you’re the only one on the property. But the best feature of the room has to be the open-concept shower — with a retracting curtain that opens up to the bedroom, even showertime in the Founders Rooms comes with lake views.

Cozy as the Founders Rooms are, a stay at Pyramid Lake Lodge isn’t complete without taking advantage of the lodge’s outdoor activities. I started every day with a quick walk down to the lake to watch the sunrise. The sun crested over the mountains around 7:20 AM during my visit, so I grabbed a coffee from the complimentary coffee and hot chocolate machine in the lobby and sat on the lake deck chairs to watch the color show every morning.

As a guest, you also have access to kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards. If you book directly with Pyramid Lake Lodge, you’ll receive one hour of rentals during your stay. I took the kayaks out for an afternoon on the lake. Not only was I surrounded by gorgeous views, but you also never know who (or what) could be watching from the shore — bears have been known to grace the lakeside, so keep an eye out for wildlife.


Photo: Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit

Pyramid Lake Lodge also has daily bike rentals from 10 AM to 4 PM, and there are many hiking trails in the area that begin right at the Lodge. The most popular hike is the short trail up to Pyramid Island. Ask the front desk to show you the map of hiking trails, and remember to always carry bear spray with you anytime you hike in Jasper. If yoga is more your thing, grab a mat and do your downward dog by the lake. You might end up sharing your mat with an elk or two, which are known to head down to the lake for an early morning swim.

To unwind after a busy day, head to Pyramid Lake Lodge’s large private outdoor hot tub. If you opt for a nighttime soak, make sure to look up — Jasper National Park is a dark sky park where you can see thousands of stars on a clear night, and even a glimpse of the northern lights if you’re lucky. The lodge also has a dry sauna and fitness room for guests to enjoy.


Photo: Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit

Throughout your stay, pop into the lodge’s on-site restaurant, Aalto, for mountain-fresh dining. With views facing the lake, the restaurant accommodates both formal seating inside and bar seating outside. You can also grab a drink at the cozy, upscale fireside lounge. Breakfast ranges from light dishes such as parfait and porridge to heartier fare such as the double duck omelet, breakfast bowls, and gravlax toast, as well as children’s meals for families. Dinner continues to impress, particularly the Alberta beef for which the province is known, although it was hard to top the warm brioche sweet bun with marzipan custard that I had for dessert.

For an extra fun dining experience at Pyramid Lake Lodge, try the Graze and Gaze, an afternoon snack overlooking the lake. The grazing menu is full of quick bites to hold you over until dinner. My favorites were the cauliflower goat cheese gratin and the land and sea board — both of which are gluten-free.

Price per night for lower level Founders Rooms: $479
Price per night for upper level Founders Rooms: $529

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Getting to Jasper National Park and Pyramid Lake Lodge


Photo: Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit

If you’re flying into Jasper, the two closest airports are Calgary International Airport (YCC) and Edmonton International Airport (YEG). Both are quite a distance from Jasper — about four to five hours by car. Most people who visit Jasper National Park combine it with a visit Banff National Park, which is Jasper’s sister park.

I flew into Calgary and took a two-hour shuttle into Banff. There are a few different bus companies to choose from with transport between Banff and Jasper, Lake Louise, and other areas in the region. I used the Brewster Express. You can reserve a time slot online, and the shuttle is located inside the airport at Exit 5 near arrivals. From Banff, it’s another 3.5 hours to arrive at Pyramid Lake Lodge, depending on the amount of stops in between.

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