Jasper Lake & Sand Dunes – Best Canadian Rockies Day Hikes

#30 – Canadian Rockies Day Hikes: Jasper Lake & Sand Dunes

Jasper Lake
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  • Location: Jasper National Park
  • Trailhead: Pull off on Highway 16
  • Rating: Easy
  • Total Distance: Short
  • Recommended Time: 30 minutes
  • Recommended Season: July to September

Unique in the Canadian Rockies

Sand Caterpillar
The Sand Dunes are home to creatures that might not otherwise call the Canadian Rockies home. I am calling this a sand caterpillar, but if you know of its official name let me know.

Jasper Lake isn’t really a hike, but more like a wading opportunity. Jasper Lake & its sand dunes make up one of the most unique natural wonders in the Canadian Rockies and should not be missed when visiting Jasper National Park. It is a place that can’t be fully experienced without venturing into nature. The sand dunes found adjacent to the Jasper highway are the only dunes in the Canadian Rockies. The small sand dunes formed during the last ice age stand in stark contrast to the evergreen covered mountains that surround them.

Wading Jasper Lake

Wadding Jasper Lake
Jennifer stands in the middle of the frigid but shallow Jasper Lake.

As unique as the sand dunes are the real reason to stop on this beautiful stretch of road is the lake itself. Jasper Lake is really a wide section of the Athabasca River. The river gets so wide in this section that the depth of the water is only a few feet. Visitors can venture out into the icy glacial meltwater and wade for as far as you like across the lake. Most won’t make it far as the water, even on a hot summer day, is frigid, but it is still one of the most unique experiences to have in the Canadian Rockies.

Parking

Clouds over Jasper Lake
The shallow nature of Jasper Lake entraps logs flowing down the Athabasca River.

The parking area can be easy to miss as there is no parking lot. Those who wish to have this adventure simply park on the side of Highway 16 about 18-miles north of the town of Jasper. The Sand Dunes are located between Jasper Lake and Talbot Lake on the west side of the highway.

Wildlife

Bald Eagle
Lots of creatures call Jasper Lake their summer home including the iconic Bald Eagle.

Talbot Lake is also a very picturesque lake and worth the stop. This stretch of land between the two lakes makes for a great spot to find moose, elk, and raptors in this part of the Canadian Rockies.

The Jasper House

Jasper House View
The historic fur trading post known as the Jasper House was located near this area on the Athabasca River.

If history is your thing, just up the road is the location of the historic Jasper House. This was an important outpost for the exploration of this area of the Canadian Rockies. The house no longer stands but the short walking trail has information about the history of this place including the namesake for the house and the park.

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