Escape to Jasper this winter for mountain adventures, good eats, and fun festivals. From the Canadian Rockies’ deepest canyon to the highest ski resort base in Canada (at Marmot Basin Ski Resort), 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.
1. 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.
2. 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 Marmot Basin for more information.
3. 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 on Highway 93N, is gorgeous year-round. To save on driving, plan to visit on your way to or from Jasper.
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. Tours are located about an hour west of Jasper. Contact Cold Fire Creek Dogsledding for more information.
5. 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.
6. 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/.
7. Ice Skating
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.
8. 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.
9. 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. Please note that things might look a little different during COVID-19 (check Jasper Tourism for updates).
January 14 – January 30, 2022 | Jasper in January: When it cools down, Jasper heats up with Jasper in January. Head to Pyramid Lake on the weekends for ice skating and sleigh rides (free!), learn to ice climb, enter a fun bonspiel, watch the Jasper Cup Pond Hockey Tournament, try fatbiking or snowshowing, and more! There are several culinary events including Taste of Jasper and Taste of the Alpine. Note that the After Dark concert series, and Atco Street Party + Fireworks have been cancelled this year. For more information, visit Tourism Jasper | Jasper in January.
February 11-13, 2022 | Jasper Beer and Spirits Festival: Savor craft beers and spirits – and stories – at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
February 26-27, 2022: Jasper Nordicfest features “2 days of cross country ski races, a loppet, snowshoe and trail running!”
Wine in Winter and the Whiskey, Wine & Hops Festival have been postponed until April.
For more information on the above and more upcoming events, please visit Jasper Travel.
10. Wildlife Viewing
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.
11. 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.
12. Fat Biking
Not a skier? Try fatbiking! There are several trails near town that are perfect for beginners. Maligne Lake and Medicine Lake are close by and beautiful too. Go to Jasper National Park | Fatbiking for more information.
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 what to see along this route, please read our story: The Best Stops on the Icefields Parkway.
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 love staying there! Book your room at Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection | Pyramid Lake Resort.