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5 Absolute BEST Winter Tours in Jasper, Alberta that You Can’t Miss This Year (2023)

5 Absolute BEST Winter Tours in Jasper, Alberta that You Can’t Miss This Year (2023)

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It’s no secret that winter is a magical time in Jasper National Park. The once green landscape gets covered in snow, bringing all new winter adventures that are just as thrilling as summer activities in Jasper!

While there are so many great things to do in the winter in Jasper National Park, it can be a little intimidating if you aren’t accustomed to driving in the snow and navigating winter conditions! 

That’s why we love winter tours in Jasper, you can still visit iconically beautiful sights like Maligne Canyon and even take on new adrenaline-pumping activities like ice climbing! Even as Canadian locals and having visited Jasper many times, we love taking tours in Jasper during the winter because they take care of all the stress and planning, and you still get an exciting adventure!

Don’t let a little snow deter you from an amazing winter vacation in Jasper National Park! Check out our guide to the 5 absolute best winter tours in Jasper and pack your coat – you’ll need it!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Winter in Jasper is magical and there are some amazing tours available. See what animals you can spot in the snow with a guided wildlife tour, be dazzled by the night sky on a planetarium and telescope experience, or venture into a land of frozen waterfalls with an icewalk through Maligne Canyon!

Best Tours in Jasper in Winter

1. Winter Wildlife Discovery Tour 

a moose in the winter in Jasper National Park
If you’re lucky you might even see a moose!

There is a lot of incredible wildlife that lives within the Jasper region. No matter what time of year you visit, you’re likely to spot a handful of animals, but winter is an especially unique time to take this wildlife discovery tour! With fewer tourists and cooler temperatures, a wide variety of animals can be seen, making winter the best time to take a wildlife tour!

The real appeal of wildlife discovery tours like this one is the expert guide that leads the way. They are avid outdoorsmen and have a deep understanding of wildlife behavior, migration patterns, and the location of habitats, so as you drive around the park they know exactly where to find wildlife.

I was impressed at how much our guide knew, he was a wealth of information! The guide also gave us a lot of history about the geology and ecology of Jasper National Park, as this area is pretty old and has changed quite a bit over time!

On this tour, we were able to spot elk, deer, coyotes, moose, goats, and sheep, but there are even more things out there! Luckily, we didn’t spot a bear as they are hibernating this time of year. I’m not sure if seeing one would be more terrifying or amazing! 

This 3.5-hour tour is an excellent way to get a look at Jasper National Park in all of its winter glory! It was nice having the guide drive us around to places like Maligne Lake and Medicine Lake, so we could simply gawk at the snow-capped mountains and not have to stress about driving in winter conditions. They provide hotel pickup and a comfy, warm van with big windows so you can see all the wildlife, without having to brave the cold! 

This winter wildlife discovery tour is available from November through April and is $72 CAD. Be sure to reserve your tour in advance, as spots fill up quickly!

2. Maligne Canyon Icewalk 

Maligne Canyon Icewalk in Jasper National Park
Just stunning!
Bailey walking over the Maligne Canyon ice looking at a frozen waterfall
Oh what a winter wonderland!

Icewalks are a unique activity that is perfect to do in Jasper! With the extremely cold winter conditions, the rivers and waterfalls that typically flow through canyons freeze, so you can actually walk at the bottom! There are a few icewalks in the Jasper and Banff areas, such as Grotto Canyon and Johnston Canyon, but my personal favorite is Maligne Canyon!

What makes the Maligne Canyon Icewalk so unique is that it’s the deepest canyon in Jasper. It’s an incredible 55 meters (180 feet), so the walls of the canyon are strikingly beautiful. There are fossils embedded within the walls, and frozen waterfalls extend for an impressive length. This canyon is a dramatic display of Jasper’s natural beauty that is exaggerated in the winter! 

If you’re visiting Jasper from out of town, you probably won’t have the proper gear to complete this icewalk safely. I suggest taking this tour to Maligne Canyon, as it provides crampons and trekking poles, which will make walking on ice possible! It’s also nice to have a local guide to show you the way, point out unique rocks and ice formations, and help you manage walking on ice cleats!

Bailey walks through the steep canyon walls on the ice in Maligne Canyon
Bailey and our tour group walk through the steep canyon walls on the ice in Maligne Canyon

While the Maligne Canyon Icewalk isn’t rated as a difficult hike, it can be a little awkward getting used to crampons if you’ve never used them before. The icewalk is 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) and mostly downhill, leading to the frozen waterfalls and fossil-filled canyon walls (which our guide helped us find!).

The tour lasts for about 3 hours and includes hotel pick-up, winter hiking equipment, and your guide. Be sure to dress warm and bring some water, because you will be outside for a few hours! 

Icewalks are one of my favorite ways to get outside during the winter months in Jasper. The tour is available from mid-December to mid-March to ensure the canyon is completely frozen over! You can reserve this experience in advance for $74 CAD. 

Related Read: If you’re planning to spend the holidays here, check out all the activities to do in Jasper in December!

3. Half-Day Jasper Culture Food Tour 

Two pizza as Jasper Pizza Place, Jasper
Yum!
Food we tried on a food tour in Jasper in winter
Fresh!

After your heart-pumping activities hiking Athabasca Falls or snowshoeing around Maligne Lake, you can reward yourself and indulge in Jasper’s amazing food scene! There are actually so many delicious restaurants in Jasper. As tourism grew in this mountain town, restaurants stepped up their game and now serve some of the tastiest fare in the Canadian Rockies!

We decided to take this Jasper Culture Food Tour to check out multiple places in one day, and make some friends along the way! Nothing brings people together more than food and drinks, so we ended up having a really fun experience. 

Throughout our 3-hour tour, we visited four different restaurants and got to try one course and an alcoholic beverage at each. In total, four dishes and four drinks that boasted Jasper’s best restaurants! We learned about places we hadn’t heard of before, and tried dishes we normally wouldn’t have thought to order – and it was all delicious! 

This tour is unique because they don’t tell you the restaurants ahead of time and it can change with each tour. This way, each restaurant in Jasper can be part of it and the guide can choose what is best depending on season, dish, or any other factors. Plus, drinks are included, so it just makes the experience all the more fun! 

You can reserve this food tour of Jasper for $134 CAD per person, and it takes off at 2:30 pm each day. So you can have an adventure-filled morning, and treat yourself to lots of yummy food in the afternoon!

4. Planetarium and Telescope Combo Tour 

The moon through a telescope at the Jasper Planetarium, Canada
The moon through a telescope at the Jasper Planetarium, Canada

Jasper is known for its beautiful landscape with the striking Canadian Rockies, waterfalls, rivers, and wildlife. But you can also add the night sky to the list of incredible views from Jasper! The far north latitude and high elevation often give incredible night sky views where you can see constellations and planets, and if you’re lucky, the Northern Lights!

This Planetarium and Telescope Combo Tour is a great way to learn about the expansive night sky above Jasper, and then see it for yourself! You’ll start by visiting the Planetarium Dome for an interactive presentation from where you can learn about the First Nations constellations, the Milky Way, and Aurora Borealis. The information from the guides is really helpful in understanding what you’ll be seeing next! 

Then you’ll throw on your parka and gloves, head outside to the Dark Sky Preserve, and look through a high-powered telescope! You’ll be able to see the night sky in 4k, and can even see the Northern Lights on a clear night. It is wildly beautiful! They also give lessons on photographing the Aurora and you’ll have the chance to hold rocks from Mars and the Moon – so it’s an overall immersive experience. 

This is best seen on a clear night, but if it happens to be cloudy they offer a 2-year “rain check” so you can come back and see it at no extra cost! This 1.5-hour tour includes the Planetarium show, a Q&A with local astronomy guides, and the telescope experience all for $72 CAD.

You can reserve this experience online here and then get ready to marvel at the beauty of the night sky in Jasper. If you live in a big city and don’t get to see the stars often, this will blow you away!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

Related Read: If you’re up for a road trip, make the drive from Jasper to Banff to check out all the winter fun in Banff!

5. Jasper Ice Climbing Experience 

person climbing a frozen waterfall with two people watching from the bottom and feeding a rope in Jasper National Park
Climbing a frozen waterfall is a unique experience you can do in Jasper.

Ice climbing is one of the more extreme sports in Jasper. Every time I see the experts climbing up a frozen waterfall I think, “Those guys are crazy!”, but I’m also completely in awe! However, with the proper equipment and instruction ice climbing isn’t as crazy as it seems, it actually is possible for beginners. 

This Ice Climbing Experience is a great way to try out this extreme sport. If you’re interested in learning the hobby or just looking for a thrilling adventure in Jasper, this is a great pick. It’s a small group tour of 6 people, so you get a lot of attention from the instructor. You will climb at Maligne Canyon, Tangle Falls, or Edge of the World, based on weather conditions. 

Once you’re at the climbing site, your instructor will spend time giving instructions on techniques and safety, and then get you all geared up with ice cleats, a helmet, a harness and belay ropes, and ice axes. Before you know it, you’ll begin ascending the frozen waterfall! 

This tour is 6 hours in total, so be sure to dress warm (wear what you would to go skiing or sledding). I recommend packing water and lunch or snacks, as they aren’t provided and you’ll be out there for quite a while! This tour meets at the operator’s office in Jasper, and they will provide transportation to and from the climbing site. 

If I could pick one exhilarating activity to do while in Jasper, this is at the top of my list! You can book this tour for $236 CAD and it’s available from December to March, to ensure the ice is nice and frozen. Be sure to book this tour in advance, as it is definitely a popular option!

Where to Stay in Jasper

Pyramid Lake in Jasper National Park, Canada in winter
Pyramid Lake in winter is beautiful. Stay at the Pyramid Lake Resort to wake up here each morning.

When compared to Banff (and the dozens of hotels in Banff), there actually aren’t that many to choose from in Jasper. That’s right, accommodation in Jasper is limited, and therefore it’s important to book your stay as far in advance as possible!

Here, I’ve handpicked some of my personal favorite hotels in Jasper suitable for any type of traveler with any type of budget!

Jasper Downtown Hostel (Budget Backpackers) – $

Jasper Downtown Hostel is the best place to stay for those on a tight budget. The central location, shared facilities, and friendly atmosphere make it a great place to stay. They offer budget dorm beds as well as affordable private rooms. Dorms start around $45 CAD per night and private rooms begin at $117 CAD a night.

You can book Jasper Downtown Hostel on Booking.com here.

Whistlers Inn (Moderate Budget) – $$

Whistlers Inn is the perfect place to stay if you are looking for a nice escape right in town and only a short walk from popular bars, restaurants, and attractions in Jasper. They also have a rooftop hot tub to relax in after a long day. Room prices start at $199 CAD when you book ahead.

You can check prices and availability online here.

Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge (Moderate to High Budget) – $$

Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge is the perfect place to stay for a wilderness escape in Jasper National Park. Although the lodge is right along the Icefields Parkway, it’s clean, quiet, and surrounded by nature. It’s also right across the road from Sunwapta Falls, so you’ll be able to walk to the viewpoint and hike to the lower falls.

Rooms start at $242 CAD and can accommodate between 2 – 4 adults. You can check prices and availability for Sunwapta Lodge online here.

Pyramid Lake Resort (Luxury) – $$$

Pyramid Lake Resort is beautiful, and it is set in an even more beautiful location! Pyramid Lake is the perfect place for hiking, swimming, kayaking, or even skating in the winter. Pyramid Lake Resort doesn’t cut any corners, and it’s a highly-rated hotel. It’s also a popular place to stay for those visiting Jasper on a honeymoon!

But despite being so luxurious, you can find awesome deals. We’ve seen prices as low as $162 CAD a night when you book ahead online!

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey smiles at the camera as she walks through Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park during winter
Thanks for reading!

I’m so happy you’re planning a winter trip to Jasper! This is one of my favorite places in Alberta – no matter what the season. But as you can see, there’s something extra special about Jasper in the winter. Whether you’re stargazing, ice climbing, or seeing what wildlife you can spot in the snow, I hope you have an amazing time discovering Jasper on a winter tour.

If you want more tips and inspiration for your trip, check out our other Jasper blogs here or take a peek at what we’ve written about traveling across Canada. We can guide you through the best road trip spots, tours, and hidden gems as you make some amazing memories.

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