Jasper is a small town that sees almost two million tourists each year. It is like Banff but on a much smaller scale. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains and you can literally walk to numerous trails from the town itself. There is also the large Athabasca River that runs beside the town.
There is a great tourist information center in the heart of Jasper, too. We enjoyed strolling through the town and had dinner in town one night. The town is also very RV friendly with specific RV parking and it has a sani- dump (Canadian for dump station). Stock up on groceries and other supplies before you visit. Being that it is a small tourist town, Jasper does not have larger chain stores and prices are higher, even though fuel was reasonable given overall Canada prices.
There are about 5,000 residents who live here year around but the town becomes a city in summer. More than two million people come to Jasper National Park annually.
Tourism supports Jasper’s economy but it also results in a lot of traffic and congestion in season. David and I are thankful that we arrived prior to the beginning of the busy tourist season because it is much quieter and easier to get to different locations now. That’s not to say that there are not plenty of people here now. We have seen many international tourists and Canadian tourists in the area while we have been here, but ironically have not met a single traveler from the U.S. The numbers of visitors will grow exponentially in the next few weeks. Actually, this upcoming weekend is a big holiday here in Canada – Victoria Day – and the local campgrounds will all be full with reservations booked many months in advance.
We are camping in Jasper National Park’s largest campground, Whistlers Campground, just about a mile south of Jasper. It has 781 campsites that are a combination of full hookup, electricity only, or dry camping. The nice thing about this campground is that it is set in a pine forest and the sites are arranged in such a way that you do not get the feeling that you are camping with 800 other campers. One item that we have not run into before is that you have to purchase a “fire” permit if you want to build a fire at your campsite. It currently is $8.80 a day and you are provided with all the wood you want delivered to your site. You also have to be parked in a campsite loop that allows fires.
There are a number of elk that roam the campground. We have seen several so far. We were warned that both black bears and grizzly bears had been spotted in the campground but we have not seen either here.
We were talking with the ranger the other day and learned that the National Park will be closing Whistlers Campground at the end of this season for one year. They are planning on updating the infrastructure of the campground, upgrading to 50 amp service, paving all the roads, installing a new registration center, and adding 17 combined washroom/shower facilities. They will also continue to remove the pine trees infected with the pine beetle. They cut down 1200 trees this winter in this campground alone! They will not reopen until the following summer in 2020. The current season dates are May 2nd until October 8th. Everyone we have talked to says that you should reserve in January to get your desired length of stay.
Jasper National Park has been on our bucket list for a long time and we are so happy to finally be here.