Jasper Lake, a popular sight from the highway on your way into Jasper, recognizable by the vehicles stopped on the side of the road, the children playing on the sandy shores of the lake, and the dotted specks of people that have ventured out far into the middle of the lake that barely reaches their knees.
Though referred to as a Lake, Jasper Lake is actually not a lake. It disappears every year, and the moving sheet of water can actually be seen moving across the body. Covering 13 square km, the sheet is shallow enough that you can venture all the way across, where you’ll have the shore to yourself.
Showing up every summer, like clockwork, and disappearing to sandy flats during the winter, the cycle of the water is actually a mastery.
Getting to Jasper Lake
Pull off Highway 16 at a small parking area 49 km west of Hinton or 30 km east of Jasper. There is no sign marking Jasper Lake, but if you’re westbound watch for the bridge over the Rocky River. The pulloff is 6.7 km farther, on the left. Eastbound, watch for the bridge over the Athabasca River. The pulloff is 7.5 km farther, on the right.
Walking Across Jasper Lake
The lake is shallow enough to walk all the way across. It took us about twenty minutes to cross it, at a half-run, splashing water at each other on the way. The lake has a sandy bottom, so you can leave the water shoes at home.
The water from the Athabasca river is cold, be warned that you’re probably going to reach the second half and wonder what you were thinking trying to walk across the lake. The water is easy enough to walk through that you could use a baby carrier for infants and toddlers, or have a boat or a float with a bottom that you could pull along with them in tow (our toddler loved this).
Things to know Before you Go
There’s a sandy beach with a shallow entry into the water that’s quite a bit warmer than the rest of the lake, a perfect place for younger children to play or camp out if you’re not going to take them on the trek across the water. On the shore, there are plenty places to sit, and it’s an easy trek down from your vehicle.
Parking is simple, with access on the same side of the road if you’re coming into Jasper and a great stretch of pull-out area to access the shore.
Tip // watch for the ants on shore – they’re mainly in the logs, so stay away from those and your picnic will be just fine!