For those that find Banff to touristy and busy, Jasper is a nature lovers paradise. It is the centre of the Jasper National Park surrounded by alpine territory, glacier-fed lakes and is a stargazers delight-it is even a dark sky preserve, an area where almost no artificial lighting is visible at night!
Jasper is the perfect base for all your skiing, hiking, lake adventure, bear watching and nature chasing activities! We were lucky enough to spend 4 nights at the beautiful Pyramid Lake Resort which is on a stunning lake for summer splashing with kayak, canoe, paddleboat and mountain bike rentals or a frozen wonderland in those cold winter months. Snow dogs can be seen practicing on the lake! Theres even a steamy hot tub for after a big day on the ski hill.
If you’re arriving from Banff, you’ll have driven along the Icefields Parkway, on of the most stunning and famous drives in the world. Be careful to check the local weather as it can sometimes close in Winter (however we drove it fine) in -30degree temps. It truly is beauty at every turn. Be sure to stop at Athabasca and Sunwapta Falls.
Here are my top things to do in Winter in Jasper.
1. Go snowshoeing. We hired some snowshoes and drove the 46 sensational Kms to Maligne Lake, surrounded by snowcapped mountains for an afternoon of snowshoeing. there are multiple tracks to take on and around the lake. In summer it turns azure blue and if perfect for canoeing!
2. Canyoning in Maligne Canyon. Sundog Tours run a bunch of awesome tours in both summer and winter, my favourite being the Ice Canyon Hike through Maligne Canyon. I can personally vouch for their professionalism and their amazing guides-ask for Wes! They will load you up, provide all the gear and drive you to the canyon and take you right to the bottom! Seriously incredible experience.
3. Hit the slopes! Marmot Basin is a brilliant resort for the whole family, catering to all abilities. It’s just a short drive from town with great Apres!
4. Stargazing. With Jasper’s Dark Sky initiative, there are so many opportunities to try and catch the Northern Lights or simply stare at the milkyway. Each October there is the Dark Sky Festival, and you can also visit the Jasper Planetarium . My favourite stargazing spots are Pyramid Lake (I’m a bit bias since I stayed there, although there’s a tiny island on the lake thats a perfect nighttime viewing spot), Medicine Lake and the Colombia Icefields. Fun fact: Medicine Lake isn’t exactly a lake; when snowmelt runoff comes into the valleys at a high pace, the valley where Medicine Lake lies fills with water, creating Medicine Lake. As the season progresses, the lake drains underground and disappears until the next year.
5. Columbia Icefield, the largest Icefield in the Rockies. The Columbia Icefield Skywalk experience features waterfalls, wildlife, fossils and more on an exciting 1-kilometre walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot drop.
So there are my favourite Winter activities in Jasper, apart from a few wines by the fire of course. I’ll be making a list of summer activities when I make my next trip up the Icefields Parkway!
-Jasper brewing co. The local pub with great food and good beer selection!
-Bears Paw Bakery- yummy baked treats!
-Jasper Pizza Place