To avoid the crowds, morning and late afternoon are supposed to be the best times. I had luck in the middle of the afternoon in July – supposedly the height of tourist season.
The best rule of thumb is to not go when there is a line of tourists in front of you from a tourist bus. Even still, waiting 20 minutes in line to go to the top of Whistlers is so much more worth it than 45 minutes to get onto a 2-minute long Disney theme park ride that you’ll forget 10 minutes later. The view from the top of Whistlers should be hard for anyone to forget. Ever.
Maybe its a nice sunny, warm, blue-sky day, or maybe it is cooler and cloudy, or maybe there’s even some drizzling rain. These are all good times for the Jasper Tramway experience.
Even a cloudy day will usually allow for distant views of the Canadian Rockies panorama that spreads before the Jasper visitor. Sunny days allows tourists to see for a virtually endless distance.
Rainy or foggy weather will limit the view, but then again, there will be less people and more solitude. If it does rain, there’s the option of just doing the Tramway ride to the upper tramway terminal and skipping the hike.
What to bring
In the summer, you need the essentials of an hour-long, windy, cool uphill hike with a view. Keep in mind that the hike is in the alpine climate and therefore can be very cool.
- Hiking shoes or sneakers with a lot of traction
- A light backpack
- Wear layers for chilly, windy weather at the top. For summer weather, a fleece or windbraker on top, long sleeve shirt underneath, then a t-shirt. If it is hot at the bottom, zip-off pants are nice to have. They are great throughout Jasper National Park, especially when hiking on variable weather days.
- A bottle or two of water
- Energy snacks like Cliff Bars, Zone Bars or Powerbar Harvest Bars or the likes
- Cameras and video cameras if you have them. If you don’t mind carrying it, a small travel tripod is useful. There are some really light ones around. Carrying a heavy full-size tripod is not a good idea.
- Small travel binoculars are nice, but not necessary. You’ll see the Jasper townsite, the Miette Valley and the Athabasca Valley from the top of the Whistlers.
- Some people used walking sticks or poles, from simple carved wooden sticks to advanced carbon-fiber hiking poles. These are good for balance and some people use them to reduce stress on their back, legs, and feet.
In the winter, you need all of the above, a heavy coat, hat, gloves, maybe an ice axe and ice shoes, plus you need to be a really skilled hiker.
What not to do
Here’s some tips:
- Don’t bring heavy, bulky items that you don’t really need. Do you really need the can of Aquanet for your hair? The Jasper National Park garden ornament can wait too. Buy the souvenirs on the way out, not on the way up. It makes for an easier hike.
- Don’t fall down the mountain. It is steep and probably thousands of feet before a hard object.
- Don’t play on the edges. After the edges, there is nothing.
- Don’t use uncommon sense (the opposite of common sense).
- Don’t let kids run rampart. Leave them home if you have to.
- Don’t bring pets. Pets are not suitable for the experience.
- Don’t bring a fear of heights. Looking only upwards is no fun.
- Don’t dress for the beach – it is much colder at the top than at Jasper Townsite.
- Don’t wear sandals. Hiking a rocky, slippery surface in flip-flops tends to be less enjoyable.