Compass

Daily Destination: Jasper National Park, Canada

Compass

(Photo: Aaron & Carol / Flickr)

(Photo: Aaron & Carol / Flickr)

In northerly mountainous areas where summers are fleeting, this time of year presents one last chance to experience the exposed peaks and open trails of places like Canada’s  Jasper National Park in all their alpine glory.

Many families have already started preparing for the upcoming school year, which means visitor numbers at popular summer sites like Jasper and Banff in Canada and Glacier National Park in the U.S. will drop off soon. The weeks just before and just after Labor Day (celebrated in both the U.S. and Canada, but with an extra u up north) are some of the best for uncrowded, leisurely explorations.

Called the “gentle giant” of the Canadian Rockies, Jasper is both a vast wilderness — it’s the largest and most northern national park in the Canadian Rockies — and a welcoming spot of civilization amid dramatic crags and deep mountain valleys. The park has 600 miles of hiking trails as well as canoeing and kayaking on its glacial lakes. Campgrounds range from primitive backcountry sites to more developed areas with electricity and showers.

For those who like to rough it during the day but return to a soft, warm bed at night, a number of lodging and dining options lie in the town of Jasper, just outside the national park boundary. Some lodges are old-fashioned and rustic (the park was formed in 1907, so folks have visited for a long time), while others feature spas and high-ends restaurants.

Jasper National Park is also the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserve, making for some great stargazing in the expanses of open sky between peaks.

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