The largest national park in the Canadian rockies, the wildest park, the best backcountry trails. That’s how Jasper promotes it’s national park, located in Alberta, Canada. After living in Jasper for a full winter season it’s time to share my Top 10 experiences with you – and why the Jasper National Park is the place to be for every mountain lover:
1. No Crowds feat. Local Town feat. Off Season Pricing
That’s the real deal about Jasper as a town during the winter season. It’s (almost) empty! The town is really quiet during the winter months (except the Christmas time and spring break).
You can actually explore the beautiful places in the National Park without crowds. You can find a parking place right in the center anytime. You can go out for dinner without waiting to be seated. And the best thing: Most businesses in Jasper offer Off Season Pricing (including most of the hotels in town).
It’s a great vibe in Jasper during the winter time. Everything calms down, locals seem to be pretty relaxed. And you can go see places and take photographs in peace and harmony 🙈
2. Snowy Winter Landscape 📸
Photographers, that’s something for you! The Jasper National Park is full of breathtaking mountain views 😍 Already the drive from Banff up Highway 93 is unreal, one can stop pretty much after every corner. Pyramid Lake, Maligne Canyon, Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls – to name a few places. They’re usually pretty crowded during the busy summer time, but you’ll be almost alone during the winter months!
3. Marmot Basin
Do you love skiing? Make sure to check out the local ski resort Marmot Basin. The terrain Marmot Basin is having is unique – pure fun for everyone, from beginner to expert riders. They opened a new piece of terrain this season (2017/18) called Tres Hombres, one of my all time favourite double black diamond runs. Marmot Basin is probably having the best groomers in the Rockies, they craft perfectly groomed slopes every morning. For those who prefer powder – huge areas like Tres Hombres, the Caribou Knoll or Eagles East are waiting for you ❤
4. Frozen Maligne and Athabasca Canyon
Yes, they are frozen! Guess what – you can actually walk into the canyons. Jasper usually get’s really cold temperatures during November and December. Pretty much every lake and river get’s solid frozen, including Maligne Canyon and the Athabasca Canyon. It’s a strange feeling when walking on ice for the first time, but the views you can get while exploring the canyons are breathtaking!
5. Cross Country Skiing
Grab yourself some cross country skis and start exploring the park. There are many great tracks, from flat tracks to quite challenging ones.This kind of skiing requires a total different set of muscles than downhill skiing, and it’s great to get you in shape for summer hikes. My favourite cross country skiing experience was skiing on the frozen Pyramid Lake. Starting right at the Pyramid Lake Resort one can ski around the whole lake, enjoying the beautiful mountain views. The resort’s having some fire pits right next to the lake – don’t forget to bring some sausages and hot drinks and enjoy Pyramid Lake with a fire after your skiing adventure 😊
6. Wildlife in Jasper
There is lot’s of wildlife in the Jasper National Park, including some big boys like moose, cougar and bears. But there is also some wildlife in town that you can see pretty much every day. Right around Jasper is a big elk population that just happens to live in and around town. Chances are high that you will see the elks moving towards town around dusk. They then stay in town during the night, hiding from predators. Humans and elks are living in town in harmony, these elks got used to cars and humans. Still, please don’t chase them or get too close to them. It happens often though that you find yourself surrounded by elks when walking home by night – a really exciting experience.
7. Ice Climbing
Ice climbing is a big thing in Jasper! There are lot’s of great places for ice climbers. Many spots are located next to the the highway towards Banff, some great spots can be climbed in the Maligne Canyon. Check out the video above featuring ice climber Felix Ossig-Bonnano. Local companies in town offer ice climbing sessions for beginners – a great way to get into the sport 😎
8. Jasper Skytram
The bad news about the skytram – it is closed during the winter season. But it opens again in April – and April can still be counted as winter in Jasper. It’s a 7 minutes ride from the lower station up to (almost) the top of Whistler Mountain Summit at 2236 metres. Getting a lift up the Jasper Skytram is all about the view – and I have to tell you that the view from up there is incredible. You’ll get a full 360° mountain panorama view. You can see Mt. Robson on a good day, the highest mountain in the Rockies. In case you’ve ever wondered why Pyramid Mountain is called Pyramid Mountain – watching it from the top of the skytram will give you the direct answer 😉
9. Snowshoeing and Hiking
Jasper offers some of the world class hikes, a true hikers paradise during summer. No worries, there are still lot’s of great hiking opportunities left for the snowy time. Get yourself some snowshoes and explore the area! The good thing about hiking in wintertime – the bears are hibernating, one can go out exploring the National Park with less concerns about wildlife. My favourite snowshoeing experience: book a helicopter flight over the Rockies with Rockiesheli and explore the winterwonderland with your friends 🏞
10. Ski Touring
Jasper National Park is a great area for ski touring! As the park is having some endangered animals calling the park their home it’s up to everybody to help protecting these animals. Therefore Parks Canada is limiting the backcountry access to specific months. The reason for that – caribous. They usually survive the winter high up in the mountains, far away from their predators. With ski tracks leading up towards higher areas it’s easier for wolves to travel towards caribou areas. The backcountry around Marmot Basin is opening February 15, the other areas including the peaks around Maligne Lake open March 1. Grab your equipment, check the avalanche conditions and explore the park on skis! Stay save out there and enjoy the views 😊
Traveling Jasper during winter can be challenging and though. Roads are covered with ice and snow, the weather can change anytime in the mountains. It’s getting really cold during November and December, the temperatures can stay around -30° Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit), sometimes for a couple of weeks.
But – Jasper won my heart with it’s beauty, it’s diversity. It is a lovely mountain town with a great adventurous spirit. The whole park just turns into a huge winter wonderland, the views are never getting boring ❤
Let me know in the comments if Jasper made it into your bucket list!