One of the things I was interested in doing in Jasper was driving out to see Mount Robson, which is the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 3954 metres (12 972 feet). It’s about a one hour drive west from Jasper and to get there you actually have to cross the border into B.C., and also cross over the continental divide.
While I was poking around for a Maligne Canyon tour I found this train tour run by SunDog. You take a VIA train from the little station in Jasper, out through the rockies to a small town in B.C. called Dunster. Then a bus picks you up and takes you back to town, stopping at Mount Robson along the way. Train ride through the rockies? Yes please!
The train didn’t leave until midday so we had a chance to check out Jasper, which is cute, and small, and not quite as quaint as Banff (but nowhere near as busy, either). There’s mountains all around, but more space to the town too. We had fun at the Old Fire Hall which has been turned into a Parks Canada information centre, where they do skits and have games and crafts about wildlife and plants in the park. It’s worth stopping by if you have kids.
Once we were ready for the train we hopped aboard. The train had an engine, two coach cars, and a dining car with a bubble roof for looking out. It was pretty awesome.
Along the way we got good views of the Frasier River and Moose Lake, and we could see Mount Robson in the distance, too. The train slowed for pictures at major spots and even managed to slow down so we could all get a glimpse of a black bear crossing the tracks (didn’t quite capture it on film, though).
Once we arrived in Dunster and its World’s Smallest Train Station we headed back by road to Jasper. Our tour guide, Bert, was also a Jasper native and had great stories to tell on the road home about recreation in the area, and local plant and animal life.
Our first stop was at Rearguard Falls, on the Frasier River – this is the last stop for chinook salmon coming upriver to spawn. We were a little early to see actual salmon – they usually show up in mid to late August – but the falls were still amazing.
Then we stopped at Mount Robson. You can’t actually get close to it without a 5 km hike, so we just took some shots from the visitor centre. We were quite lucky in that only about 10% of the peak was hidden by clouds – a relatively clear day for Mount Robson, which is often completely obscured. Apparently it’s only completely clear for about 10 days a year, and when it is clear, it’s such a big deal that it makes the local news.
Also on the drive home, we saw a beaver dam and talked about how beaver activity affects the area; crossed the continental divide, where water flows east, west, or north within a few metres of each other; learned about fireweed, the provincial flower of the Yukon; and stopped to check out some elk that were snacking along the side of the road.
Yeah, Jasper is pretty awesome.