Jasper is a small, rustic mountain town – you could walk from one end to the other in 20 minutes. The center of town is the train station – we were here to catch the VIA Rail to Toronto – surrounded by shops, restaurants, and hotels. The setting is lovely with mountains all around, and far less touristy than Banff. Since our train wasn’t leaving until noon, we spent a rainy morning walking around. Smallish wooden houses have been prettied up and many of them turned into B&Bs, or along the Connaught Street (the main street), they’ve been turned into shops. The downtown area, across from the train station, is compact, but crowded with interesting shops, which also string along the train tracks. Most of them are very touristy, trinkets, t-shirts, caps, but a few have local artwork which was quite good. There are also a few restaurants and a variety of hotels, including the Athabasca Hotel, which looked interesting. Would have been more central and more interesting, I think than the lodge we stayed at outside of town.
Jasper is a good center for the wilderness adventures that are available in the surrounding areas – outfitters and rafting companies do a good business here. There’s hiking, camping, rafting, and exploring the dozens of lakes in the area.