Paddling purists might argue that the canoe and kayak can’t be beat when it comes to travelling by water, but these days, a trendy newcomer — stand-up paddle boarding — is giving both cherished watercraft a run for their money.
There’s arguably nowhere more spectacular to try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding than Jasper National Park, where you can rent boards (one hour $35; two hours $55; four hours $95) from Translucid Adventures, which opened in 2015, also offers on-the-board yoga classes (90 minutes with rental equipment $40; 90 minutes with your own equipment $20) and two-hour excursions ($70 per person).
Here’s some more information about how to get the most out of your stand-up paddle boarding experience in the park, and out of Jasper itself.
When to go
Like many of Canada’s national parks, Jasper is busier in the summer and fall than it is in winter or spring, but there’s plenty to do in any season. For stand-up paddle boarding, however, you’ll want to get to the park by the May long weekend, when, weather permitting, Translucid Adventures is scheduled to open for the 2016 season, which runs until the end of September.
What to bring
Stand-up paddle boarding beginners should check the Translucid Adventures FAQ page for details on what to wear, expect and more.
Where to stay
Take your pick. Camping is a year-round option, but June through September is the busiest time, and unless reserved, sites are allotted on a first-come, first-served basis. Hotels abound in Jasper, and it’s simple to find a place for most budgets, whether you prefer self-catering cabins or a alpine-style lodge. If you feel like splurging, though, head for the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, the grand old dame of the park’s hotels, currently undergoing a multi-year renovation that will add yet another chapter to its 94-year history.
Where to eat and drink
Much like accommodation options, there is no shortage of restaurants and bars in Jasper. For coffee and light breakfast snack, try the Coin Clean Laundry, home of the excellent SnowDome Coffee Bar, which also serves muffins, banana bread, cookies and other baked goods. For lunch, opt for pizza at Lou Lou’s Pizzeria or, say, the bison curry at the Jasper Brewing Company, which also produces very fine beers (try the 6060 stout). For dinner, book a spot at Evil Dave’s Grill and its “globally-inspired” menu, or head to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and the to-die-for Italian food at Orso Trattoria or the spectacular creations at Oka Sushi, which seats barely a dozen people.
Fun fact In its earlier incarnation as the Jasper Park Lodge, the hotel and grounds served as a movie set for stars such as Bing Crosby (The Emperor Waltz, 1948), Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum (River of No Return, 1954) and Jimmy Stewart (The Far Country, 1954).
Jasper National Park contains the Miette Hotsprings, which are the hottest springs in the Rockies. The water reaches the surface at a scalding 54 C, but visitors are only permitted in the surrounding pools, which are closer to 39 C.
Read or watch before you go
Dip into Howard O’Hagan’s collection of short stories, The Woman Who Got on at Jasper Station & Other Stories (1963), or his first novel, Tay John (1939). The latter, set in 1880, is about "Tête Jaune," a giant for whom the Yellowhead Pass is said to be named. According to the The Wild Rose Anthology of Alberta Prose, “O’Hagan’s love of the mountain terrain and the ‘mountain men’ it produced came from his own experiences as a guide in Jasper.”