Arresting mountain vistas, beautiful sapphire lakes, alpine forestry, and the hope of sighting a bear - this is what we conjure up when we think of the Canadian Rockies.
Boasting four incredible national parks - Banff, Jasper, Yoho, and Kootenay - the Rockies are a haven for wildlife lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies, then you will want to explore at least one of the national parks.
But which one should you choose? Let’s run over the two most popular parks, Banff and Jasper, to help you make your decision.
Jasper v Banff National Park: An Overview
Spanning 4,200 square miles, Jasper is the larger of the two parks. Banff comes in at 2,565 square miles.
In terms of accessibility, the closest international airport to Jasper is in Edmonton (261 miles away - 4 hours drive time). However, the 5.5-hour drive from Calgary airport is more scenic.
The closest airport to Banff is Calgary (78 miles - a 2-hour drive).
Both parks follow the same climate. Summer is the most popular time to visit and experience the phenomenal hiking trails. On the other hand, experiencing those snow-capped peaks during winter is a wonder to behold. But you will need to prepare for snowfall to impact road conditions.
The Great Outdoors: Highlights of the Canadian Rockies
The appeal of both parks is the variety of nature and the promise of wildlife.
One thing to consider is that while both feature a plethora of hiking trails - Banff has more options that are accessible without driving far out of town. Banff also has the most options for shorter hikes.
By comparison, those in Jasper are more challenging tracks overall. Furthermore, those in Jasper National Park have more of a wilderness feel about them and are usually quieter. That means you have more chances of encountering wildlife and birdlife. Something to ‘bear’ in mind.
Some visual highlights of Banff National Park are:
And highlights of Jasper National Park include:
Where to stay
Despite Jasper being the larger of the two national parks, Banff is the larger and most developed town. It features more amenities, leisure facilities, restaurants, and accommodation and remains busy year-round.
With that in mind, if you would rather stay somewhere with a more rustic vibe, you may prefer Jasper, which is more remote and feels quieter over the popular summer period.
Whichever town you choose you should book accommodation as early as possible as places are limited. You are welcome to contact me to find the perfect accommodations to suit your preferences.
Both national parks are brimming with natural delights. Overall, Jasper has more remoteness about it, while Banff is easier to navigate.
Of course, if you do have a longer vacation planned, you can visit both national parks. In fact, the drive along the Icefields Parkway is one of the most sensational road trips in the country!
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