A few weeks back we packed up the car and headed to the mountains for the long weekend (it was Thanksgiving for us Canadians). There’s nothing unusual about that. We’re lucky to have both Banff and Jasper about 4 hours from Edmonton and try to make it out once or twice a year. For some reason, everyone always thinks Jasper is so much closer, but they are almost the same distance (per Google driving directions). Anyways, this time around we hit up Jasper and decided to bring one of our dogs with us.
(Insert shocked emoji face here)
I know, I know, bad pet parents. Our dogs are wonderful, and honestly, if I had to play favourites, the one we left behind would actually be number one in my heart. Sorry Bree, but you did get to come to Jasper. Our Boxer (Baxter), is very sweet and cuddly, but also a little wild and high strung. He gets car sick, can be leash reactive with other dogs (aka goes nuts when we pass dogs on walks), and gets nervous in new situations. Not exactly a prime candidate for travelling. Our mutt Bree, on the other hand, is super chill and happy just to be around us. Long story short, hard decisions were made, and we left Baxter behind. He gets to stay with my parents who own his BFF dog buddy and spoil him rotten, so not exactly a bad situation.
The Road Trip
Even though Bree is chill, I was nervous how she was going to react staying in a hotel and being away from her bro for so long. But she was a total rockstar all weekend.
The drive to Jasper from our house is almost four hours. Since we’ve never had Bree in the car for long periods before, we made sure to stop a couple of times to let her out and run around a bit. Obviously, your regular Tim Hortons stop isn’t ideal for dogs, so we stopped at roadside rest stops and brought a thermos of coffee instead.
We made it to Jasper around lunch-time and knew it was unlikely we’d be able to check in to the hotel right away, so we had a hike planned. After a quick stop in Jasper to grab some sandwiches, we headed out the ‘Valley of the Five Lakes’. I’ve got more detailed descriptions of the hikes we did down below.
After the hike, we headed back into town and to the hotel. We stayed at the Best Western Jasper Inn & Suites and were pleased with it. I knew we would be spending more time in the room with Bree, so we did book one of the suites. This gave us a full kitchen, separate bedroom and even a wood burning fireplace! You do have to pay a $20 per night pet fee, which is standard at almost all the hotels I looked at. All the pet-friendly rooms at the Best Western are on the ground floor and have balcony access right to a grassy area outside…perfect for early morning pee breaks. They even gave us a little doggy bag with a few treats, poop bags and a tennis ball. Doesn’t exactly make up for the extra $20 but still a nice touch. Bree ended up making herself right at home (it helped she was tired from the hike) and curled up in front of the fireplace. Usually, she sleeps beside our bed with her blanket, but the cheeky pup figured the hotel couch was much comfier for sleeping.
That first night it was pretty rainy and chilly out, and we were all tired, so we ended up just staying in and ordering food from the hotel restaurant. That was not a mistake…the food was delicious. So good in fact, that we did the same thing the second night. I highly recommend the Rich Man’s Poutine and the pizza.
On another food note, the Bears Paw Bakery (or it’s sister shop The Other Paw Bakery), make yummy sandwiches if you want to bring along lunch for your hike.
On Saturday we checked off a second longer hike and then wandered around town for a bit. Dinner was again had at the hotel, and we watched the hockey game and crashed pretty early. We were due back at my parents for Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday, but we did fit in one last quick hike that morning before driving back.
As I mentioned, we were able to fit in three hikes over our three days in Jasper. This was one of the big reasons we even considered bringing Bree with us. She loves being outside and going for long walks, and that’s what this trip was all about. All the main trails in and around Jasper are numbered, and you can pull them up on Google maps. They are fairly well marked with maps along the trails, but the GPS is there is you need it.
Valley of the Five Lakes
This was the first hike we completed on Friday afternoon. It’s beautiful but was pretty busy, even later in the day with not the best weather. We completed the full loop, which is about 10km and took us about 3 hours. You can shorten it down and just do the smaller loop, but if you have time the trail right around the first lake is beautiful and much quieter. There are a few steep sections, but overall it’s a relatively easy hike. Bree made it a point to drink out of each of the five lakes, and she says the first one tastes the best. I think that’s because it’s the farthest and she was extra thirsty. Of course, I have pictures…
Old Fort Point Loop
This was our hike for Saturday morning. You can split it into two very separate sections. The leisurely jaunt through the forest and the excruciating uphill climb to the summit. Old Fort Point is just a quick drive out of Jasper on the other side of the Athabasca River. From the parking lot, you’ll see a set of stairs to the right and a trail to your left. We went with the path to the left which leads you right around the full loop. If you’re pressed for time, you can hit the stairs and just do the summit. The trail we took circles through the woods, but since we went in the Fall, it was pretty darn gorgeous. You’ll eventually start to turn back and get some excellent views of the Athabasca River. We stopped for lunch at a lookout over the river, and it was perfect. That whole section of the trail was quiet; we didn’t run into anyone else.
Once you make your way almost all the way back around there will be a fork up to the right which takes you up to the summit. No more fun and games, it’s quite a climb. Worth it though, the 360-degree views from the top are stunning. We also ran into some big horn sheep relaxing at the top, that’s always fun.
Maligne Canyon (from the fifth bridge)
Maligne Canyon is a must-see when you visit Jasper as it really is spectacular. There are a couple of ways you can tackle it though. You can start up at main parking area/tea house (which is where all the tour buses go), or you can start at the other end near either the fifth bridge or the even further sixth bridge. We planned to start at the sixth but time wasn’t in our favour, so we cut off that section. We parked at the very quiet fifth bridge parking lot (there’s also a picnic area) and started the trek up along the trail that runs right along the canyon. When you get up to the 3rd/2nd bridges, traffic will start to pick up, but it’s still worth it.
Once we got to the main parking lot, we took the upper trail (7H) all the way back to where it meets up with the original trail right by the fifth bridge. Definitely do this. It’s steep coming down and I would not have wanted to be walking up that section. The views right near the start of the 7H trail are incredible (the image at the top of the post is from there), and I was shocked no one else wandered up there.
Yes, there are some additional costs when you travel with your dog, but overall, we actually spent less than normal. The pet fee and upgrade to a suite at the hotel ran us an extra $80 in total. If we didn’t have Bree with us though, I almost certainly would have done at least a little shopping in one of the touristy shops and our dinners out would have been more expense. Because we ate in the room we didn’t buy expensive restaurant drinks, we brought a bottle of wine from home. Hiking is also free, so we didn’t have to spend any money to keep ourselves entertained.
I would absolutely bring Bree along again, but only for an outdoorsy trip like this.
- Know the hotel’s pet policy before you go (some have size restrictions, rules about kenneling, etc.)
- Know your pup! Some dogs just aren’t up for travelling. The last thing you want is to force them into a situation where they (and you) will be miserable.
- The old cliche ‘a tired dog is a good dog’ rings true. Find activities you can bring your pup to and tucker them out.
- Plan to hang out in the hotel more than normal. Even if your dog is a perfect angel, I wouldn’t suggest leaving them alone in the hotel for too long.
Have you ever brought your dog along on a trip? I guess I should also say cat, I follow this Instagram account where the girl takes her cat to the mountains (sorry Giz, you’re staying home). If so, did it work out? And do you have any other tips to share?