Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park

Alberta, Canada / View all National Parks

Next stop on this year's National Park tour [see the previous stop at Glacier] headed north and over the border into Canada at Jasper National Park.  Jasper is a far more rugged and less built up park compared to its US counterparts and we had a great time camping, seeing some moose, and exploring glaciers.  I think the most fun we had in the park however was a completely random hike out to the Hilda Glacier which isn't a really well known trail in the area.  To be honest, I thought we were going out to the Saskatchewan Glacier which is a bit more down the road, but once we got going it turned out to be amazing!

Jasper National Park

Here's the view of the Hilda Glacier from the side of the road.  As with most places with clean air, it seems so close, yet so far.  Of course we could hike all the way out there!  Thankfully the path wasn't too hard to find off the side of the road near the Hilda Creek Hostel.

Hilda Glacier from the Ice RoadBroken branch

The path followed a river through the forest for a bit, before opening out into where the glacier previous cut the heck out of the landscape.  I mean these were some serious rock hills filled with millions of boulders.  I was convinced we were going to find some fossils, but sadly there were only a few 'maybe this is something' rocks.  I probably picked up a good couple hundred looking for anything recognizable.

Hike along Hilda CreekHike by the Hilda Creek Hostel

The view from the top, kind of magnificent so it was time for lunch.  I was in heaven!  It was pretty clear we were going to have a pretty long day of hiking to get out to this glacier and back though.

Wide view of the Hilda GlacierBroken rocksHiking path

The path [I use that term loosely] kept leading us higher and higher up the loose rock mountain till we were overlooking the mouth of the Hilda Glacier.  We were at a decent elevation and the glacier below was a pretty dirty this year.

Jasper National Parkjasper-national-park-09

Here is what the path looks like from above, pretty incredible!  This went on for a few miles.

Hiking at Jasper National ParkHilda Glacier glacial mouthjasper-national-park-12Rocky glaciers on cliffside

We ended up getting pretty close, but with limited time left in the day we needed to start working our way back.  The problem however was how to get down.  We could easily backtrack, but that was no fun.  We wanted to go check out the glacial mouth below, so the logical answer was to somehow slide down the steep cliffside without you know, falling and busting open your head miles from anywhere.  Somehow this ended up working and we ended up right at the base of the glacier.

Close view of Hilda Glacierjasper-national-park-15

Complicating things was the sight of a rather crazy storm blowing in which somehow decided to miss us.  That could have been bad.

Jasper National ParkJasper National Parkjasper-national-park-18jasper-national-park-19jasper-national-park-20

It's amazing what these glaciers can transport and then just drop like nothing.  This boulder was probably a good 5 feet high.

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I think it's safe to say this hike was the highlight of the trip.  It was a perfect weather day and we covered a good 4 miles I think between all the twists and turns.  No fossils, but being up next to a fantastic glacier with no warning signs all over the place was just fantastic.  I'm convinced planning trips around seeing glaciers is the best option for traveling- the scenery is always dramatic and when you get right up close to a glacier, the feeling can't be beat.

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You can see more of our Jasper National Park work on our National Parks Photo Guide.

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