Wildlife can be found in almost every corner of this mountain city in Canada. Elk walk down the streets of the town, as do bears. Jasper National Park is more than 4,247sqmi (11,000sqkm), and only five percent is accessible by road. This vast protected area is home to all the mountain species, including very elusive wolverines and golden eagles.
As Jasper is wild, it must be respected. Wildlife should never be approached, even when it makes its way into town, and you should always explore the surrounding areas with bear spray in your pocket. Make sure to educate yourself on how to interact with animals correctly and keep a safe distance.
Highway 93 connects Jasper with Lake Louise, and the route is considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world. The initial section going south from Jasper is a good area to spot bears, and even wolves from time to time, and the Icefields Parkway features lookout spots where you can park, as well as trails to walk into the wilderness. You will also see caribou signs in this part of town, but they are very elusive and hard to spot.
The road up to Maligne Lake is a wildlife corridor. As it’s home to bighorn sheep, bears, deer, elk and eagles, a trip to this lake is an almost sure-fire way to ensure you see some wildlife on your day out. Even when no creatures are spotted here, the Colin and Queen Elizabeth mountain ranges, in which the lakes are based, are still worth the drive. Make sure to stop at the Medicine Lake viewpoint on your way; this is a great place to try to spot little pikas in the rocks.
Maligne Lake is one of the few areas in the Alberta Rockies where moose-spotting is common. Moose are aquatic animals, preferring the lush green vegetation that grows in lakes, and they are excellent swimmers. They can also be huge and somewhat unpredictable, so you should always view them from a distance. Moose Lake is a pleasant 15- or 20-minute walk from Maligne Lake, across the only bridge.
On the benchland, up behind town, wildlife is ubiquitous. Along with elk, both black and grizzly bears are often seen walking and foraging near Pyramid Lake Road. Coyotes are also common, and big cats frequent the area but are much more difficult to spot. When walking the trails, listen quietly for the spruce grouse beating their wings to attract a mate.
The grounds around Fairmont’s Jasper Park Lodge (JPL) are home to many species that enjoy the relative safety of the resort area. As well as elk and deer, there is also the odd lone wolf, coyote and even bear. JPL is home to Canada’s number-one-rated golf course, where it’s common to have to play around elk and avoid bears on the fairways.
Visit the Miette Hot Springs, located one hour east of Jasper towards Edmonton, to enjoy a dip in the pools while looking for local wildlife. The drive here is incredibly scenic, with bighorn sheep usually hanging around, and the hot springs are a wildlife hub. Animal spotting is particularly good in the evening, as sheep will walk through the parking lot as you soak in the pools.