Jasper wildlife tours are some of the Overlander visitors' favorite activities in spring, summer, and fall. Because Jasper is located at the nexus of several national and provincial parks, it supports an abundance of wildlife native to the Canadian Rockies.
Jasper Wildlife Favorites
Easily recognizable by their pelt of hard black and white quills, these spiky rodents are common throughout the lower forests in Jasper National Park. If you decide to go camping, be sure to pack up your food and backpacks tightly, because porcupines love to rifle through them in search of salty snacks.
Whether you're on a Jasper wildlife tour or hiking by yourself, look for pika on rocky ridges and listen for their distinct 'eep' calls. Though they're members of the rabbit family, these little creatures have rounded ears and no tail. Pika fur is so thick and warm that their bodies require cooler temperatures even during the summer, so their habitat is limited to the high mountains.
These tall, stately deer are common close to Jasper and in the outlying areas. In the spring, mother elk give birth to their fawns close to town to avoid predators. It's also common to see elk during the fall rut, when bulls compete for does' affections. Usually spotted right from your car between the Overlander and Jasper.
You won't need to go on a Jasper wildlife tour to see deer near to town. Although small groups of mule deer are common around Jasper, their population is low throughout the parks. White-tailed deer are harder to catch a glimpse of: they mainly venture towards populated areas only during early morning and late evening.
Iconic of wilderness and solitude, moose are commonly sighted on Jasper wildlife tours traveling through the Icefields Parkway and close to large bodies of water like the Pocahontas Wetlands and Maligne Lake. Unlike most members of the deer family, both male and female moose grow antlers of impressive size. These massive animals often live alone, but stay away from a baby moose if you see one -- mothers are very protective and potentially dangerous.
Although rare to see one place you might spot one is the first 15 mins after driving to Jasper from the Overlander in the marshes on the side of the road.
Recognized by their bright white coats, bearded jawlines, and thin, black horns, mountain goats are actually more directly related to antelopes than they are to goats. Their ability to digest a wide variety of food allows them to exist at high altitudes yearlong. The population around Jasper likes to visit the salt licks on the Icefields parkway. A good spot to see these guys and the bighorn sheep is about 15 minutes toward Jasper from the Overlander on the cliffs by the side of the road.
Distinguishable from mountain goats by their light tan coats and the males' large curling horns, bighorn sheep are more common to see on a Jasper wildlife tour than mountain goats. They migrate between grassy mountainsides and often hold up traffic in Jasper National Park.
Smaller and darker than grizzles, black bears stay in lower elevations throughout the year. In the spring, they venture into the valley in search of food after hibernating. They are not uncommon sights on Jasper wildlife tours as the population of black bears around Jasper is thriving.
The grizzlies in Jasper National park prefer higher altitudes and alpine tundra to the areas around town. Grizzlies are best observed from a distance, as they are unpredictable and very powerful. Although the danger of a grizzly attack is real, most visitors report that encounters end with the bear moving peacefully away.
Even on Jasper wildlife tours, wolves are rare to spot because they have vast ranges and avoid populated areas. They roam through the national parks as packs and hunt all type of wildlife, from mice to moose.
Jasper Wildlife Tour Companies
All Jasper wildlife tours depart around 5:30 pm and last about three hours, ensuring that the tour enjoys prime evening hours for wildlife sightings. Most tours also recommend dressing warmly and bringing season-appropriate footwear.
Owned by Joe Urie, the Jasper Tour Company offers guided wildlife tours through the Athabasca Valley and river tributaries, which are home to some of the area's most iconic wildlife. They offer hotel pick-ups and drop-offs and charge $55 per adult and $30 for children under twelve.
This tour promises sightings of abundant wildlife -- bears, wolves, and bighorn sheep -- around Jasper and into the valley. The adventure centre Jasper wildlife tour costs $65 per adult and $27.50 for children ages twelve and younger.
Sundog offers both summer and winter Jasper wildlife tours. Guests venture into Jasper National Park with their Wildlife Interpreter to catch glimpses of mountain wildlife. Their prices per tour are $65 for adults and $35 for children aged two to twelve.
When to Visit
If catching a Jasper wildlife tour is one of your main goals when visiting the Overlander, it's recommended that you visit during fall, September to October, or March to June, when wildlife is at its most active close to town and in the park. Be sure to ask about wildlife tours when you book your room at the Overlander: Our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you find a tour that fits your needs