My time at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge might be the single most unexpected trip of my life.
For reasons you’ll see shortly, I got to be much more familiar with the hotel on this trip than I expected.
It was early September, and I was on a 7-day golf trip exploring the best Banff and Canmore had to offer.
My buddy Scott and I played the wonderful Stewart Creek and Banff Springs golf courses during the first two days of our trip, and then after a morning round at Banff, we made the 4-hour trek from Banff to Jasper on Highway 93.
Let me get this out of the way right up front: this is the single most beautiful drive I’ve ever been on.
It was 4 hours of stunning vistas that felt like they were straight out of a CG film.
Around every turn there were stunning turquoise lakes, each more blue than the last. These would be followed by snow-capped peaks, far more impressive than anything else I’ve seen in the American Rockies.
All of this, to head to the remote 5-star hotel that is Jasper Park Lodge.
You see, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, also features one of the very best golf courses in the country. I was excited about the golf, but I had no idea the drive would be so spectacular.
Once you pull up to the hotel, not only do you realize how remote you truly are, but it becomes very clear: you’re in for a very special experience.
First Impressions of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
The Jasper Park Lodge is a resort haven for nature lovers.
There are endless amounts of wildlife, a beautiful lake and towering pine forests everywhere you look.
When you walk into the main lobby, it feels like the real-life version of the Wilderness Lodge at Disneyland.
The towering wood-beamed ceiling and massive windows overlooking the lake, truly make the inside feel like outside and it’s the perfect fit for the resort.
The main lodge is larger than it looks from the outside, and has kind of a high-end summer camp vibe with rooms and suites scattered throughout the property.
I caught glimpses of the golf course when I first arrived, and it simply made me that much more excited to experience it myself.
Unseasonably Cold Weather in Jasper
As you can see from the photos above, our drive over was fantastic. Perfect weather enabled us to truly soak in the wonderful vistas Alberta provided.
But when we woke up the next morning, everything changed.
I looked out my window and saw….snow?
It was the second week of September, a solid 6 weeks before any snow should be showing up, and yet there they were: snow flurries.
In my excitement, I ran outside to take some photos, and then immediately realized: I forgot my room key.
This resulted in a barefoot, unshowered, walk of shame across the property to the front desk to get a new key.
But I digress.
I assumed the snow flurries would pass and we’d make our tee time a couple hours later.
Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how this played out.
A foot of snow proceeded to fall over the next 8 hours.
It effectively ended our trip as we knew it.
5 more rounds of golf in Jasper, Canmore, and Kananaskis? Canceled.
Helicopter Tour? Canceled?
Lake Dinner Cruise? Canceled.
Mountain Skywalk? Canceled.
Although we did sneak in some Paddleboarding right before we took off for Jasper:
This left us with 24 hours at the Jasper Park Lodge to well, make the most of a bad situation.
And fortunately, there’s no shortage of opportunities to do that at JPL.
What to Do at the Jasper Park Lodge
Under normal circumstances, the activities at the resort are basically endless. Imagine pretty much any outdoor activity you could want to do, and having that at your doorstep.
The resort has golf, boating, hiking, tennis, a wonderful pool and spa – the list goes on.
And to be honest? I wasn’t going to let a little snow get in the way of me enjoying such a special place.
So you know, we went and did everything anyways:
I should also make note that Jasper Park Lodge is just as good of a winter destination as it is summer.
Unfortunately, when you get a freak, unseasonable snowstorm you’re not able to take advantage of all the things that make the winter months so great like
The Rooms at the Jasper Park Lodge
But rather, I’d call it “rustic luxury.”
The guest rooms are modest in size ranging from 325 to 375 square feet, with suites topping out at closer to 600 square feet.
The beds are extremely comfortable as you’d expect from a Fairmont property, and the Le Labo toiletries are a very welcome amenity.
But the rooms are generally not the headliner at the Jasper Park Lodge, the environment is.
You come here to get away, get outside, and experience one of the most wonderful nature retreats in the world.
But when it times come to crash, you’ll be extremely comfortable.
Dining at the Jasper Park Lodge
As you’d expect from a self-contained five-star resort, the dining options here are fantastic.
The Great Hall Gastropub is located in the main lobby with fantastic views of the lake, and exceeded my expectations.
This is a cocktail first blog, so naturally, I had to try a few drinks.
Generic hotel restaurants often can’t get the cocktails right, and considering the remote location, I didn’t have high hopes for my experience here.
But I had a smoked Old Fashioned that was excellent. Everything about it was made exactly how I would have expected it to be done at a world-class bar, and the high-end pub food was equally good.
We ended up doing two dinners at their fine dining Italian restaurant Orso.
Its located on the lower level of the main lodge, and both the steaks and pasta were delicious. They had a very nice wine list as well.
So just because you’re out in the middle of nowhere, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to eat (very) well.
Final Thoughts on the Jasper Park Lodge Hotel
Do I wish I was able to experience more of the outdoors and things that make the Jasper Park Lodge great?
Absolutely. Especially that golf course…
But what I found in my time exploring the hotel amidst a freak snowstorm outside, is that there is plenty there to keep you busy.
Whether it’s eating in one of the great restaurants, relaxing in the heated pool or sauna, or simply reading a book in your room – the Jasper Park Lodge serves those equally who are looking to stack activity on activity, as well as those simply looking for a peaceful retreat.
It’s a bit of a hike from Banff, but the journey is just as good as the destination, which makes this a wonderful choice as both a summer and a winter destination.
I can’t wait to get back soon and properly experience all that it has to offer.
Oh, and one other plus? I almost got Peter Mckinnon’s Bucket Shot.