Beavers and Moose and Bears, Oh My: Whistlers Inn at Jasper National Park

Bears @ Wildlife Museum, Whister's Inn, Jasper, Alberta, Canada

I didn’t see any bears on the mountain trails during my recent visit to Jasper National Park. I didn’t run across any moose, beavers, or caribou either, although all live in the vicinity. But I did encounter these animals — and more — at Whistlers Inn in the town of Jasper.

Perhaps I’d better explain.

I recently visited Jasper National Park, the largest protected area in the Canadian Rockies, as the first stop of an epic three-week cross-Canada train adventure, traveling from Vancouver to Halifax on Canada’s Via Rail trains. Since I was traveling car-free, I looked for accommodations en route that were both handy to the train station and good bases for exploring.

Icefields Parkway, Jasper National Park, Jasper, Alberta, Canada

If you’ve arrived in Jasper as I did on the Via Rail train, which travels through Jasper en route between Vancouver and Toronto, Whistlers Inn couldn’t be more convenient. It’s directly opposite the Jasper train station, within walking distance of all the town’s shops and restaurants.

Whistler's Inn, Jasper National Park, Jasper, Alberta, Canada

Informal and comfortable with a cheerful staff, Whistlers has the feel of an alpine ski lodge. There are lockers for storing your ski or snowboard gear if you’re visiting in winter, and at any time of year, you can tuck into their Whistle Stop Pub for an après-activity pint.

Guest Room, Whistler's Inn, Jasper, Alberta, Canada

With earth-toned linens and upholstery, the hotel’s cozy double rooms have no frills, but they do cover all the basics, including good beds, coffeemakers, and free Wi-Fi.

If you’re traveling with the family or just need more space, consider one of the eight larger suites. My suite, Room 209, known as “The Turret,” has a bay window in, yes, a turret, overlooking the main street and the mountains beyond.

Rooftop hot tub, Whistler's Inn, Jasper, Alberta, Canada

All good alpine lodges have an outdoor hot tub. Whistlers has two, out on the rooftop deck with views of the mountains.

What Whistlers Inn has that other lodgings don’t is a quirky little Wildlife Museum on the lower level. It’s packed with taxidermied specimens of animals that live around Jasper, from bears and caribou to big-horned sheep and beavers.

So even if you don’t see any wildlife in the wild, you can check out their preserved counterparts in the Whistlers Inn basement!

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park, Jasper, Alberta, Canada

With its spectacular mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and lakes, Jasper has so many reasons to stay outside that you may find, as I did, that you’re rarely in your hotel room. You’ll be hiking or rafting or riding the tram high above the town, or exploring the Columbia Icefield where you can walk on the Athabasca Glacier.

Whistlers Inn won’t knock your socks off the way Jasper’s mountain views will, but it’s a comfortable and convenient base for your outdoor adventures.

And who knows? You might see a beaver or a bear.

Or even a caribou.

Moose @ Wildlife Museum, Whistler's Inn, Jasper, Alberta, Canada

Standard double room rates at Whistlers Inn are CAD$215 during the June through September high season and range from $129-169 October through May. Suites average CAD$325 in high season and $205-255 the rest of the year.

Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the books, Moon Handbooks: Ontario and Living Abroad in Canada. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Whistlers Inn, in conjunction with Tourism Jasper, hosted my stay for review purposes.

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