October 2004: Jasper National Park


Jasper, Alberta

Fur trader David Thompson explored the Athabasca Pass in 1811 and helped establish Canada's first transcontinental route. The park began in 1907 as Jasper Forest Park, named for longtime trading post clerk Jasper Hawes. In 1930, with the passage of the National Parks Act, Jasper became an official national park. It is the largest of Canada's four Rocky Mountain national parks - there are 660 miles of trails in more than 400 square miles. Located on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide, the landscape is characterized by plunging valleys, deep forests and broad alpine meadows.

Dogs are allowed throughout this magnificent park - even crowded trails, such as the dirt Maligne Canyon footpath up the limestone gorge carved by the Maligne River. Canine hikers can bypass the multitudes by crossing the gorge on roads at either end and using an unblazed trail on the opposite side. Mountain climbing dogs will pant over Whistlers Trail, a steep and narrow route that gains 4,000 feet in elevation to unobstructed views of the Miette Valley and Athabasca Valley high above the treeline. Near the town of Jasper is an extensive trail system leading the Pyramid Lake and Patricia Lake; a wide climb from the back of the town leads to overlooks from Pyramid Bench, and another convenient canine hike is the Valley of Five Lakes.
After walking through a lodgepole pine forest and across a boardwalk through Wabasso Creek wetlands, this trail loops around a series of secluded bluegreen lakes, each a different depth and hue.

Athabasca Glacier is the most accessible glacier in North America. A short, barren walk on the Forefield Trail will take you and the dog to the toe of the glacier in the Columbia Icefield. The Columbia Icefield is the hydographic apex of the continent where water flows to three different oceans from a single point.

The Trans-Canada Highway #16 (also called the Yellowhead Highway) runs through the park and is the main route to and from Jasper. The Icefields Parkway connects Jasper with the Trans-Canada Highway #1 near Lake Louise and Banff.