Travel Diaries // Jasper National Park Town

It's quite mind-boggling to realize that July is swiftly coming to an end. Over the space of a few weeks, there has been much change and progress that I will eventually touch upon in later posts. On the other hand, I also am amazed that three weeks have already flown past since we experienced the beauties of Jasper National Park. While I could wax on for infinity about the natural wonders of that area, exploring the town was a highly enjoyable experience as well. 

Since I am currently enjoying an unexpected vacation of two weeks, I finally have the time and energy to write about our 'urban' Jasper experiences before all of the details fade from memory.

The Outfit:

Top // Zara
Pants // T. Babaton via Aritzia
Shoes // Topshop
Bag // Rebecca Minkoff
Sunglasses // Le Specs via Nordstrom

After our last hike on our final full day in Jasper, we decided to peel off our dirty hiking gear in exchange for 'dressy' dinner outfits. Makeup, which had been unnecessary for days, was actually put on our faces. For my only non-hiking outfit of the trip, I wore this bright red Zara top with ruffled sleeves. While it was meant to be an off-the-shoulder piece, I found that it often was easier to wear it as a boatneck style. As well, the siren red colour was very timely as Canada Day has just passed a few days prior! Since the town was a very casual place, I completed my ensemble with these comfortable Babaton pants and low-heeled Topshop sandals.

The Food:

We only dined in town once during our trip in order to accommodate the more budget-conscious of our travel group. Sadly, the restaurant we visited (The Raven Bistro) provided quality atmosphere without delivering on the food (vastly overpriced for so-so dishes that we felt we could have made ourselves). Luckily, we did enjoy one amazing meal at Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria-- they also provide very scrumptious gluten-free options about which one of my companions was ecstatic. I personally chose the Quattro Formaggi option as I am an enormous cheese fan. The leftover pizza was more than enough to provide a delicious, cold lunch during our hike to the Bald Hills the next day. For the other days and nights, we bought fresh fruits, veggies, and meals from the closest grocery store (which was a very budget-friendly option for our wallets).

One of our favourite non-hiking-related discoveries in Jasper was the deliciousness of the Bear's Paw Bakery. This scrumptious establishment was conveniently located around the corner from our hotel; as a result, we were able to stroll over to the bakery every morning before the hike of the day. We tried their delicious coffees (both the brewed and Americano) and their amazing baked goods (scones, cookies, cheese sticks, cinnamon buns, muffins, and macarons-- just to name a few).

For the long road trip home, I made sure to buy two cheese sticks, one cheese bun, two cookies, and one scone. The calories were utterly worth it.

The Accommodations:

Purely because of poor planning, our Jasper trip nearly didn't happen. When we decided to book a hotel about two months in advance, I was horrified to discover that all of the hotels and motels had been booked solid while browsing on Expedia. As we did not want to endure the uncertainties of camping, my friend was lovely enough to call all of the hotels in Jasper to inquire after last-minute cancellations. Finally, we managed to secure the last room at the Astoria Hotel. This small boutique establishment is located wonderfully close to a grocery store, gas station, gift shops, and restaurants. 

As we had read reviews, we were prepared for an older, slightly run-down room. However, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that we had snagged a newly-renovated room. Nevertheless, there were quite a few suggestions that we left on the Tip Sheet so kindly provided on the hotel room table. For instance, the DVD player that we had expected did not work (and we had prepared by bringing several antiquated Lord of the Rings DVDs), the shower settings were reversed ("hot" was "cold", vice versa), there was only one tiny, marred mirror, and the internet was impossible. Regarding the last matter, we were provided pieces of paper with usernames and passwords that would supposedly last for 24 hours, which was annoying enough. However, the internet kept on kicking us off every time we left the hotel and would never let us log back in for the full 24 hour access.

Other than those setbacks, we still managed to greatly enjoy our time at the hotel-- the staff were friendly and helpful, the location was great, and the room was very cozy.

What your hotel room looks like when two things are your priority: hiking and saving money. For the saving money portion, we brought our own breakfasts (instant oatmeal, kettle, etc.) and many snacks from home. However, I usually ended up eating two amazingly fresh cheese sticks after eating my oatmeal-- I used the hike to burn off the extra calories!

The Town:

During our first and last full days in Jasper, we made a point of strolling around the few blocks that comprised the township. We were surprised at how many residential houses were around and wondered how many were actually occupied by their owners, as opposed to being rented out to tourists or temporary residents. In the "commercial" area, you could find the usual restaurants, grocery stores, gift shops, outdoor gear stores, and other businesses that you would expect to find in self-sufficient community. 

For our hiking needs, we were able to purchase necessities such as a knee brace and bug bite ointment from a Pharmsave. More importantly, we were able to obtain valuable information and updates about the trails from the "Friends of Jasper National Park" Visitor Centre. 

Before hiking in a new area, I would always suggest visiting a centre like this to receive the updates on safety, weather, and navigation. From the friendly staff, we confirmed that the Edith Cavell Meadows trail was indeed closed because of an aggressive mother grizzly protecting her cubs. Instead, we received the excellent recommendation to do the Bald Hills hike.

 In general, we enjoyed the town of Jasper even more than we did the town of Banff. Compared to Banff, there were less crowds of tourists, rowdy nightlife (something us grandmas did not love), and tourist traps. However, Banff does offer more modern-life amenities than Jasper-- a McDonald's (a post-hike favourite), Cows Ice Cream, and the like. For our grandmotherly group of ladies, we definitely enjoyed the small coziness of the town and wished we could stay there longer.

Frequently during our drives around the enormous park, we would sigh and pronounce that we were abandoning city life and moving to those mountains. Honestly, if there was a realistic opportunity to buy a house in Jasper and spend a few months there every year, I would do it in a heartbeat!

Would you fancy living in the mountains?


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