For most visitors, a trip to Jasper is about seeing wildlife. Jasper National Park protects a vestige of the wildlife that once blanketed the West. While the last 200 years have seen a dramatic decline in wildlife in most parts of North America, healthy populations of plants and animals have persisted inside the park. The Canadian Rockies are known to support 1300 species of plants, 20,000 types of insects and spiders, 40 types of fish, 16 species of amphibians and reptiles, 277 species of birds and 53 different species of mammals including: humans; elk; deer; moose; caribou; bighorn sheep; mountain goats; bears; coyotes; wolves; beavers; pine martens; lynx; porcupines; cougars; snowshoe hares and wolverines. Jasper's elevation range, geology, geography and climate create diverse habitats for a surprising variety of species.

In 1907, when it became apparent that two transcontinental railways would soon pass through the Athabasca Valley, members of Parliament legislated into being a forest reserve of 13,000 km2, which encompassed the more northerly mountains of that region. On Sept. 14, 1907, Jasper Forest Reserve was born.