Jasper is an amazing winter destination with huge piles of fluffy snow and views of mountains as far as the eye can see. With the quintessential mountain feel, it is a great getaway in the Canadian Rockies. I personally love Jasper because it is less “touristy” than Banff but still has the amenities and night life. It is also an adventurers wonderland and perfect for thrill seekers.
Visiting in the winter means you have plenty of options for outside activities. All of these give you the opportunity to take in the views and breathe in the cool mountain air. Also you can get that exercise and adrenaline your body craves
Snowshoeing gives you the ability to walk across hardened snow and piles of fluffy powder so you can go off on your own and explore the wilderness. It also makes winter trails extremely manageable. It’s fun walking around to all the amazing snow covered views and places around Jasper. Snowshoeing is a great workout but also is way easier than trudging through knee/waist deep snow.
Maligne Lake: This is an amazing area and was one of the places I explored the last time I was in Jasper. Follow Maligne Lake Road all the way to the end, and park in the lot there. After you are geared up and ready to go you can follow the sign posts towards the Moose Lake Loop. The little loop is easy and is 2.6km. There will be a sign posted to the Big Moose Loop, and if you continue this way the total distance is 6km. It is well worth it, but also deemed intermediate. If you’re going to do this loop, remember to bring your survival essentials for winter and leave with plenty of sunlight.
Medicine Lake: On the way to Maligne Lake you can stop at this area and walk the 3km foreshore trail for stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Athabasca Glacier: If you head down the Icefields parkway all the way to the Columbia Ice Fields, you can walk towards Athabasca Glacier on the Toe of The Glacier Trail. This is a 4km trek, that gives you a great view. It’s mostly easy, but there is one climb that is steep and may have you tripping all over yourself.
Parks Canada has great recommendations on other places to snowshoe. By the way if you are from out of town or don’t have snowshoes most equipment stores will rent them to you for $10 a day! Also remember if you are snowshoeing by a lake to check ice thickness if you want to venture out. You should always check for avalanche warnings as well. Use your head, and do your research!
Continuing from Snowshoeing, you can alternatively hike many trails in the winter. So you can still go out hiking provided you check the trail conditions, and realize stepping in the wrong place might lead to frozen boots (it happened to me, see my boots below).
Great Place to Check out:
Valley of the Five Lakes: This semi-sheltered trail (through the trees), leads you through great views of lakes and is easily accessible from Jasper!
3. Ice Walking:
This is one of the best known tours in Jasper, and I’m including it because Maligne Lake Canyon is amazing in the winter. For $65 you can walk through the frozen Canyon and see the frozen waterfalls! Book ahead!
4. Skiing and Snowboarding at Marmot Basin:
Honestly I don’t think this list would be complete without mentioning how AMAZING Marmot Basin is! It has been my go to mountain hill since I was able to walk (and ski). It has areas for everyone and all abilities, which makes it a perfect ski destination.
Advanced: If you are an intermediate to advanced skier, then there is no better view than to head up the Knob Chair. This is accessible from most chairs including Eagle Ridge or Canadian Rockies Express. Both are quad chairs and lead to green through black diamond runs. Follow them down to the knob and get ready for a ride. Though I love the Knob, the two seater chair can be rarely used (the last time I was there we were the only ones on it) and always has me hanging on for dear life. The views from the top are spot-on and the runs are equally breathtaking. No greens here!
Beginners: If you are just starting out skiing, or coming back after a few years and feel like you need to take it easy. Try out both Basin Run and Easy Street. Both green runs are wide open, fun and take you all the way to the bottom, so your chilly chairlift ride up is worth it.
5. Cross-Country Skiing:
In general, there are two types of cross country skiing, traditional and skate skiing. On groomed paths you will be able to tell which is for which style. The traditional style has long skinny trails. Whereas skate skiing is more of an exaggerated skating motion.
Both are awesome and worth a try. Though Traditional gives you a few more options to explore as you need less space.
To find out about all the trails available check with Parks Canada.
6. Fat Biking:
By now you’re probably thinking that you’ll need a car load of equipment for a great winter escape to Jasper, and now I’m telling you to add a bike to the mix. But fear not, just with every other activity this equipment can easily be rented in town!
What is this? You jump on a bike with fat tires and can ride to your hearts content. You can do this on most trails you hike on.
How to get to Jasper:
Jasper is a bit less accessible than other winter destinations in Canada and requires a few hours drive from every major airport.
From Edmonton, you can drive down highway 16 through Hinton and Edson. This will give you awesome views of Prairie Alberta before heading into the Rockies. My favourite part of this drive is when you finally see the mountains on the horizon.
From Calgary, you can do the more scenic drive. You start the drive through Banff and Lake Louise and end up going down the Icefields Parkway which is one of the most incredible drives on earth.
Pick, prepare and adventure as always. You can choose any or all of these winter activities! If you do you will have an amazing time in Jasper!
Keep exploring, and let me know in the comments what your favourite thing to do in Jasper is!