Leaving the Metterra hotel, as we hurried through breakfast, eager to hit the road early, I remembered something we’d missed out on the entire time we stayed there – Happy hour.
And no, not the kind of happy hour where the drinks are half-price – it’s the kind where the drinks are free! I suddenly remembered the lady at the reception telling us about this and usually this would be one of my favourite parts of the day but between the stunning Ice Castles, running around different amazing restaurants and walking over frozen lakes, I totally forgot all about the free wine. Darn!
Anyhoooo, Jasper was calling and I was particularly excited as this would be the first time I would get to visit one of Canada’s stunning national parks.
Once we were out of Edmonton, the drive to Jasper was fairly uneventful – the roads are straight and the journey easy. Close to Jasper, however, with its magnificent jagged mountains in sight, the excitement really starts to kick in!
There’s no way to do the drive into the park without stopping for photos! The scenery here is absolutely incredible and a fantastic taster of things to come.
This is what the rugged Canadian outdoors is all about and winter adds that extra special touch (though I imagine summer, with all its greenery is pretty special too). I asked someone what one of the nicest things about living in Canada was and they said it was having clear and distinct seasons – winter that are truly cold, long hot summers, deep rich orange autumns… you get my drift.
Not like the UK where we get very schizophrenic seasons – random hot days in the middle of winter and a cold snap right in the middle of summer, this unpredictability means we’re prepared for pretty much most weather types between -5C to 30C at any given point but sometimes, it would be nice to be able to count on the weather… 🙂
But I digress! Before long, we arrive at what would be home in Jasper – the Crimson. Destroyed in a fire a little while back, the Crimson has been recently renovated and is one of the top places to stay in Jasper.
We hurriedly chucked out stuff into the rooms and went off in search of more of what Jasper had to offer. We were originally due to do a canyon walk that afternoon but moved it to the next day so the rest of the day was pretty free.
A little drive from the Crimson lies Pyramid… okay, it’s not actually called just Pyramid but everything here is Pyramid something. The lake is Pyramid Lake, the island here is Pyramid Island and the mountain is, yes – you guessed it, Pyramid mountain.
The lake is frozen over here and lots of people are out and about making the most of it! People are skating, playing ice hockey and even mini-cross country skiing for the kids.
It seemed so strange to me yet very Canadian to be walking over a frozen lake, especially seeing as the first time I’d ever done this was the night before. Lakes don’t freeze over back home and I was still getting my head around trusting the frozen lakes however seeing the locals zipping about on their skates and making the most of it, I very quickly settled – even going for a snow angel, which I later regretted with all the snow that went down my trousers and slowly started to melt.
We left the lake and went for a walk around the area – by the way, beware of bears – not that you would have to in winter, they’re hibernating (in summer, be sure to pay attention to the information available on bears and know what you need to do to avoid seeing one or indeed what to do when you do come across one) and although you wouldn’t think it – beware of Elk.
The male elk are kinda predictable and more aggressive during mating season but the female are a lot more dangerous – especially when you have babies with them. They’ll rear up on their hind legs and will knock you out if you aren’t careful.
Thankfully, nothing too bad has never happened in the park but it’s worth knowing. Elk are wild animals so resist the urge to play with them, pose with them for selfies or interact with them in any way other than giving them a wide berth.
Pyramid island is, as the name suggests, a little island in the middle of the lake, reached by walkway and is a great place to get a great view of the lake and mountain. It’s amazing to see in winter and I imagine equally as impressive in summer!
Thoroughly pleased with spending time around what I now just refer to as ‘the Pyramid area’ but finding ourselves with a bit of free time before dinner, we decided to head down the Icefields Parkway, which I later found out was the name of a scenic highway that takes you from Jasper to Banff. (I’d thought it was the name of a specific place with a great view prior to visiting).
Alas, you could only go so far down the Icefields Parkway on our visit as there was an avalanche the day before (the weather had been pretty extreme) and so the road was closed. Usually avalanches are manually triggered so they can be managed but windy conditions along with huge snowfall meant that this couldn’t be done in the days before we arrived.
This meant a couple of hours free back at the Crimson to chill out in the pool and Jacuzzi before dinner at Evil Dave’s Grill.
Evil Dave’s is a popular local favourite and is a rather fun family run restaurant. The cocktails here are pretty great too so even if you don’t pop in for food – bring a few of your friends here for cocktails after spending your day exploring Jasper.
We started with some oh-so-delicious skewered prawns and calamari… (which totally reminded me of how hungry I was).
… before moving on to the Alberta steak for myself and the El Diablo for Lloyd – chicken breast, chipotlé cream sauce, jasmine rice, guacamole, black beans, and corn tortilla sticks – sheer perfection and the thing of food envy (though my steak was pretty good too – I’m greedy like that).
Dessert was a sundae for myself and an ice cream sandwich for Lloyd.
Stuffed and truly content, we headed back to the Crimson and I decided to call it an early night as tomorrow, we would have to be up bright and early for a day filled with some of the best of Jasper!