Escape to Jasper this winter for mountain adventures, good eats, and fun festivals. From the Canadian Rockies’ deepest canyon to Marmot Basin Ski Resort (highest ski resort base in Canada), you can venture beyond the ordinary every day, then enjoy Jasper’s awesome après-ski scene. Here are the top twelve things to do this winter in Jasper.
Maligne Canyon Ice Walk
Maligne Canyon is home to the Canadian Rockies’ most spectacular ice walk. Descend to the frozen creek bed and be dazzled by natural ice sculptures and 30+ metre high ice falls. For your safety, Parks Canada recommends going on a guided hike. SunDog Tour Company will outfit you with warm boots, helmets, and traction devices; provide transportation; and your knowledgeable guide can tell you all about the terrain, flora, and fauna.
For more information, please read our story: Magical Maligne Canyon Ice Walk.
Skiing at Marmot Basin
For fantastic views, snow, and varied terrain without lift lines, head to Marmot Basin. While half the terrain is advanced (black runs) and expert (double black), there is still plenty of terrain novice and intermediate skiers. I like that runs from different chairs converge at Mid-Mountain Lodge so it’s easy to meet up if you get split up (make sure the kids have their walkie talkies on!).
With 6 lifts, a magic carpet, and 3 terrain parks, there is fun for everyone at Marmot Basin! Advanced skiers should check out the latest addition to the hill, Tres Hombres, a large mostly treeless bowl on the north side of the resort.
Visit https://www.skimarmot.com/ for more information.
Snowshoeing & Hiking
Snowshoeing in Jasper: The Canadian Rockies’ largest national park has endless snow to play in, but two of the most popular snowshoeing destinations in Jasper are Medicine Lake (3 km lakeshore trail) and Maligne Lake (3.2 km Mary Schaffer Loop is pretty). For more information and trails, visit Parks Canada | Jasper Snowshoeing.
Hiking in Jasper:
- If you’re short on time, walk to scenic Pyramid Lake Island (200 metres from the parking lot) and get a photo on the bridge with Pyramid Mountain in the background.
- Hike Lac Beauvert Loop (3.5 km) at Jasper Park Lodge, then go ice skating at Lac Mildred/Mildred Lake!
- Valley of the Five Lakes (4.6 km loop) is another popular winter hike with minimal elevation gain.
- Old Fort Point Loop (3.8 km) is a short, but steep hike with great views of the Athabasca River.
- Athabasca Falls (800 metres), half an hour south of Jasper, is worth the drive!
Know Before You Go: Trail conditions change as quickly as the weather, so wear warm layers and check the trail report before you go. Traction devices are recommended during the winter months.
Go dashing through the snow in a six-dog sleigh (sometimes eight.. depends on the conditions/terrain)! You can even try driving the sled; a unique Canadian adventure. During January in Jasper weekends, you can take short sled rides at Pyramid Lake ($40/person, cash only). After February 2, 2020, tours are located about an hour west of Jasper. Contact Cold Fire Creek Dogsledding for more information.
Cross Country Skiing
Jasper National Park has several beautiful cross country ski trails that are groomed for classic and skate skiing. Ski at:
- Whirlpool Winter Hub (easy and intermediate trails)
- Athabasca Falls (easy)
- Pyramid (easy and intermediate trails)
- Wabasso Campground (easy)
Get current trail conditions from Parks Canada | Jasper Trail Report. Note that Pipeline Trail is closed for the 2019/2020 season.
Jasper Food Tours
The Downtown Foodie Tour promised “Four eats, four drinks, one awesome experience” and it did exactly that. I loved hearing stories told by our lively guide (who is also the company’s founder), Estelle, and visiting some of Jasper’s best restaurants. Be prepared to walk 1.5 kilometres and enjoy a delicious drink and dish at each stop. If you book in advance, the hosting restaurants can accommodate most allergies and intolerances; they made all my courses gluten-free and dairy-free. Book your tour at https://jasperfoodtours.com/.
Pyramid Lake and Mildred Lake (at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge) are cleared for ice skating! Skate rentals are available at Pyramid Lake Resort and Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge respectively.
Pyramid Lake Sleigh Ride
Get cozy in a horse-drawn sleigh (blankets on board) and enjoy the scenery at Pyramid Lake. Allow 40 minutes for the sleigh ride. Pricing and schedule available from Pursuit | Pyramid Lake Resort.
Jasper Winter Festivals & Events
Jasper doesn’t slow down in the winter. On any weekend, no matter the weather, you can catch live music, beer / wine tastings, festivals, and other special events.
January 17 – February 2, 2020 | Jasper in January: When it cools down, Jasper heats up with Jasper in January. Head to Pyramid Lake on the weekends for dogsledding and sleigh rides (cash only for both), catch free After Dark performances around town (folk/pop/rock music, DJs) , bundle up and join the retro Atco Street Party + Fireworks on January 25th (80s ski wear contest!), try fatbiking or snowshowing, and more! Save on Marmot Basin lift tickets and hotel stays now through February 2nd. Get more information at Tourism Jasper | Jasper in January.
January 31 – February 2, 2020 | Jasper Beer and Barley Summit: Savor craft beers and spirits – and stories – at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. https://albertabeerfestivals.com/festivals/jasper-beer-spirits-festival
February 7 – 10, 2020 | Devour! The Canadian Rockies Food Film Festival: “Jasper’s newest high-end culinary event” celebrates food, film, and wine! https://devourfest.com/program/devour-the-canadian-rockies-film-festival-2/
March 7 – 8, 2020 | Jasper Nordic Fest: Calling all winter lovers! Jasper Nordic Fest invites you to take part in a cross country ski race, snowshoe race, or nordic trail run! Details at http://www.jaspernordicfest.ca/
March 13 – 15, 2020 | Fairmont PJ Party: This girls-only event promises to be the best girls’ weekend ever. Pack your PJ’s but bring one fancy outfit for the gala. More info at https://www.fairmont.com/jasper/offers/jasper-pj-party/
March 6 – 8, 2020 | Marmot’s Revenge Ski Mountaineering Challenge: Not for the faint of heart, the Marmot Ski-Mo Challenge is guaranteed to get your heart thumping. Learn more or sign up at http://www.skimocanada.org/marmots-revenge-jasper-ab/
For more information on the above and more upcoming events, please visit jasper.travel.
You can see lots of wildlife in Jasper pretty much any time of year, but the cold season is the only time you can see critters with their fluffy winter coats. Look for elk and bighorn sheep on Maligne Canyon Road – there is often a herd near the turnoff – or take a wildlife tour.
Northern Lights and Stargazing
In winter you don’t have to stay up late to the see the night sky, so there’s no excuse to miss out when you get an aurora alert! Did you know Jasper National Park is the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world? Head to one of the many lakes near town for awesome aurora and star viewing, or visit the Jasper Planetarium at Jasper Park Lodge. Pyramid Lake, Lake Annette, Lac Beauvert, and Maligne Lake are great stargazing spots.
Not a skier? Try fatbiking! There are several trails near town that are perfect for beginners, or pedal across Maligne Lake for stunning views.
The Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93N) is one of the world’s most scenic drives, so if you’re coming from Calgary, this is the way to go. Allow time to stop at Mistaya Canyon, Tangle Falls, Columbia Icefield, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Falls. For tips on traveling this route with kids, please read our story: Touring the Icefields Parkway with Kids.
Where to Stay
Pyramid Lake Resort offers spacious, well-appointed rooms on the shore of Pyramid Lake. Equipment rentals (snowshoes, ice skates, fat bikes, and more) are available onsite so you can make the most of the lovely location. They also have an outdoor hot tub to relax in after a day of adventuring. I would stay there again! Book your room at https://www.banffjaspercollection.com/hotels/pyramid-lake-resort/
Thank you to Tourism Jasper for making this trip happen! As always, all words and opinions are my own.