There’s always something wondrous about cable-cars. Maybe it’s the way they silently whisk you up to a mountain top, or the panoramic views that gradually unfold as the car glides up to higher elevations, or the excited look on people’s faces when the journey begins… and the petrified look on those same faces when the car rumbles past a tower. On my recent trip to the Canadian Rockies, I had the pleasure of experiencing the Jasper Tramway – I’m still baffled as to why it’s called a tramway in Canada. I mean, doesn’t a tram run on wheels along a rail-line? Anyway, back to the erm… tramway. The Jasper Tramway was built in 1964 and is till this day the highest and longest aerial tramway in Canada. It transports passengers in roughly seven minutes to an altitude of 2,277m (or 7,472ft) on The Whistlers mountain.
As the tram leaves the base station (a ten minute drive outside the town of Jasper), a magnificent panorama of Jasper and the surrounding mountains, forests and lakes slowly comes into view. The scenery is simply breathtaking. If you’re lucky, like we were, you might spot a bear or two along the way. As the tram glided silently above the treetops, the excited chatter of the passengers in the tram quickly died down, replaced by an unmistakable expression of awe.
Below us, six mountain ranges were clearly visible, their jagged peaks glistening in the sun. The reddish-green peak of Pyramid Mountain loomed large above Jasper. The town is spread out like a boomerang, with the glacial-fed Athabasca River running alongside. In the vicinity, I spotted various aquamarine and turquoise lakes. In the far distance, the impressive snow-capped peak of Mt. Robson, the highest in the Canadian Rockies, could clearly be seen.
There are various things to see and do once you reach the mountain station. There’s a viewing terrace – the views will keep you occupied for a while – and pathways around the station. It’s also possible to hike to the top of The Whistlers (an easy 30-minute hike). While you’re there, find out why the mountain is called The Whistlers and keep a lookout for the little furry creatures which make the mountain their home, like the golden-mantelled ground squirrel, pika and the marmot.
But it’s the view that will take your breath away…..
It can be quite chilly atop the mountain (even on a warm sunny day) so come prepared. The café in the station building also serves a delicious hot chocolate, the perfect way to keep warm and to dream away while you gaze out the window. If you’re visiting Jasper in the spring, summer or fall, you cannot miss the Jasper Tramway, especially if the weather is clear. The views are simply too good to miss!
Note: A big thank you goes to Travel Alberta for hosting me in the Canadian Rockies.