I’ve written in the past about cats visiting Jasper National Park. But it turns out that the park is better suited to dogs.
So here’s one for the dogs!
Dogs have long been a part of the travel history of the region. In fact, some of the earliest known paintings/drawings of Jasper National Park show dogs in one of the first encampments known as Jasper House. The drawings were by Henry James Warre and are dated as May 1846 – nearly 50 years prior to the region being turned into a park in 1907. (This I learned by reading Culturing Wilderness in Jasper National Park, a Jasper history book with an article about Warre and pictures of these drawings on page 44).
Dogsledding is also a long-time Jasper National Park tradition. Today, outfitters allow adventure travelers to experience dogsledding under the direction of expert guides. One of them, Cold Fire Creek Dogsledding, has been around since 1998 and offers dogsledding tours in Jasper National Park from 1 to 4 hours long.
Besides working dogs who do dogsledding tours, modern travel dogs also visit Jasper National Park quite regularly.
The owner of a dog named Gus writes all about options for hiking with dogs in Banff and Jasper National Parks. In Jasper, Gus recommends the Whistlers Trail (a steep hike up Whistlers Mountain) and the Forefield Trail which brings a dog and his owner up close (toe-to-toe? or is it paw-to-toe?) with the Athabasca Glacier.
A dog named Toby also visited, taking time to pose for a Jasper National Park photograph.
According to Parks Canada, another trail popular with dogs is Wynd Road, an unpaved road near the town of Jasper, a 4km trail (one-way) that goes through mixed deciduous and coniferous forest.
The impact of dogs on the environment
As the world gets smarter about the environment, it has slowly changed policies. In Jasper National Park, this means that dogs now have to be on a leash. Trail access is now more limited.
An article by the Jasper Environmental Association brings to the forefront some interesting facts about dogs in national parks. According to the article, due to research studies, dogs are banned from some of the Jasper National Park trails that overlap with the woodland caribou habitat. The woodland caribou are a threatened species. Jasper Environmental says that this has a benefit to several other species in the park: “All these species have a tough enough time trying to live and raise young in the alpine environment without being harassed by well-fed dogs.”
Still, there are plenty of trails that you and your dog can feel good about hiking.
How to find the best dogs trails AND keep a muddy dog out of your car!
The Jasper Information Centre in the town of Jasper in the center of the park will have the latest policies on trail openings and which ones are dog safe. Trail conditions change with the weather and season. The information center will know which trails are dry – and which muddy, wet trails to avoid with a dog. They’ll also know about bear spottings and trails dog owners should avoid because of potential wildlife conflicts.
I’m almost positive dogs are not allowed in the backcountry. Parks Canada has some rules here but finding the official trail-by-trail policy online has been a challenge. According to Parks Canada:
- “Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times in Jasper National Park. Unrestrained dogs can upset other trails users and, because of their physical similarity to predators such as wolves and coyotes, are a real stress for wildlife.” (Parks Canada)
For dog owners, this leash policy can be a blessing. Losing a dog while traveling would be heartbreaking.
But bringing your dog with a leash can be a good time for all.
Jasper National Park is a vacation your dog will never forget…until a few minutes later…dogs have short memories.