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On Top of the World with Jasper SkyTram
By Kate Barker

Photo by Keir Lamar

Visiting the Jasper SkyTram was going to be one of the highlights of our trip to Jasper National Park, if only the weather would clear! We seemed to be stuck under rain clouds that we brought with us from Canmore. It was great weather for a duck, but the heavy clouds and constant moisture meant we could barely see the mountains, never mind see the stunning views that awaited us at the top of Whistlers Peak. So we waited.

And then it happened! Our final day was bright and sunny and warm in the valley. Everything was luscious from the fresh rainfall and the town of Jasper came alive. It was the perfect day to venture into the sky.

In true Jasper fashion, everyone at the SkyTram was friendly, relaxed and helpful. While waiting for our flight, we explored the grounds. We enjoyed a drink at Starbucks, checked out the views from the base and explored some nearby trails. Did you know you can bring your dog on the SkyTram? We said hello to a few dogs waiting their turn to ride to the top. It was a great way to pass the time. Soon enough, they were calling our number and it was time to go.

There were two enclosed trams whisking people from the lower station to the top. It was cool to see them enter the building, fill with people and then make the journey up the lines. We loaded quickly and efficiently into the tram, and then we began the ascent to the upper terminal.

Our guide explained the history of this attraction, from the hiking exploration of William McGregor in 1960 to the realization of sharing his favourite views with the world on his engineered SkyTram in 1964. She talked about the surrounding rivers and peaks as well as the devastation of the pine beetle on the red forest. It was an interesting ride to the top, and the added interpretation was something I didn’t expect.

The ride took a little over 7 minutes. The upper station boasts a restaurant, a gift shop, a boardwalk and access to the famous summit trail to Whistlers Peak. We were excited to try it all, and after a few moments to take in the breathtaking scenery, we started on our alpine adventure.

The SkyTram was relatively busy that day, which was unsurprising considering it was the Sunday of a long weekend and the first sunny day in what seemed like forever. Even so, we were able to find our own space on the trail and didn’t feel crowded at all. The trail to Whistlers Peak is well laid out, with clear signs and many lookouts along the way. There was still snow in places, but it had the heavy, wet density of late spring snow. We had no troubles navigating the terrain. It was well worth the adventure!

Each step revealed more of the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. We could see everything! The townsite of Jasper looked small behind us, while the impressive mountains of British Columbia, including Mt Robinson, the tallest peak in the Rockies, were all visible below the high rolling clouds. The view from the mountain top was endless!

We spent a lot of time exploring the peak and taking in those breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies. Time flies when you’re having fun, but by this point we had worked up an appetite. Our walk back to the terminal was just as amazing as the walk up to the peak, and before too long we were back at the upper station. There was a lineup to get back down, so we decided to try lunch at the Summit Restaurant. This cozy restaurant has huge glass windows offering panoramic views. The food was delicious, and it was the perfect pick-me-up after the alpine hike.

We still had to wait in line for the ride back down. While the flights up are numbered and timed, the ones down are first-come, first-served. That way, you can take as much or as little time as you’d like exploring the mountain peak or enjoying the restaurant. It’s all designed to maximize your stay!

After the 7-or-so minute ride back, we found ourselves at the lower station, looking up the lines to where we just explored. It was an excellent cap to an eventful vacation, and we were so happy the weather cleared so we could enjoy the full experience of the Jasper SkyTram.

 

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