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Jasper is easily one of the best winter destinations in Canada. During the colder months, this mountain town turns into the center of a real-life Winter Wonderland. And despite what you may think, there’s actually a ton of fun things to see and do in Jasper in winter!
We recently visited Jasper in the dead of winter. To be honest, we didn’t have huge expectations before we arrived. I mean, what else is there to do in Jasper in the winter besides skiing?
Well, we quickly found out that we were wrong! That’s right, besides the fact that the area is even more beautiful when it is covered in snow, there are a ton of exciting winter activities for tourists to enjoy in Jasper National Park.
Hit the slopes, warm up with some tasty local food in Jasper town, and explore frozen waterfalls in Jasper National Park – you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to the range of things to do in Jasper in the winter! And in this blog, I’ll tell you about them all!
20 Exciting Things to do in Jasper in Winter
1. Hit the Slopes at Marmot Basin
Out of all of the fun things to do in Jasper in winter, hitting the slopes at Marmot has to be the best! Marmot Basin is one of the best places to ski/snowboard in all of Canada. They have 1,720 skiable acres (696 hectares), 7 lifts, and 91 different runs for all levels. With over 400 centimeters of snow on average and cold temperates, the skiing conditions are ideal!
Dan and I are fairly confident skiers (actually, Dan snowboards – but you get the point.) So although they offer lessons at Marmot we decided to pass on them and instead spent a couple of hours with a Mountain Guide. Our Mountain Guide showed us around the mountain taking us to his favorite runs. He even led us up to some epic viewpoints!
It was super interesting and we got to know our way around all the different runs really quickly, allowing us to spend more time shredding and less time staring at a map.
One of the things I like most about Marmot is the variety of runs for all levels from each lift. This meant Dan and I could ride up together and then he could go off onto a black run if he wanted, while I stuck to greens and blues.
Marmot is open every year from mid-November until early May.
Hot tip: Although there is ample parking at Marmot, on the weekends it can get busy! To avoid disappointment get to the hill early! Otherwise, book the shuttle from Jasper town.
2. Maligne Canyon Ice Walk
One activity you can’t skip if you visit Jasper in winter is the Maligne Canyon ice walk. In the summer this deep canyon is filled with rushing water. But in the winter, it all freezes and what you’re left with is a series of frozen waterfalls and icicles lining the canyon walls.
Oh, and did I mention you can walk in the canyon?! That’s right, when it is cold enough you can actually walk down into the canyon on the frozen water to explore the depths of Maligne Canyon from within it – how cool!
Now I must warn you, it is very slippery and you should have the right equipment and gear. Crampons/ice cleats are a must! Also, it is recommended that you wear a helmet (for falling icicles) as well as waterproof boots.
You can simply park at the large Maligne Canyon parking lot and follow the trail down just past Bridge 4. Here, you will see a sign and an opening in the fence where you can climb down into the canyon. There is also a warning here that if you do not have the proper gear and experience that you should only enter with a tour guide.
Dan and did not join a tour and simply followed the others in the canyon. It was fine especially since we had crampons. However, if you don’t have your own gear or are with children, then I’d recommend booking a guided tour. On the tour, your guide will explain about the canyon too and it lasts for about 3.5 hours in total.
Without a doubt, the tour to Maligne Canyon in winter is one of the most popular activities you can do in Jasper in winter – we must’ve seen 3 or 4 different tour groups just when we were there!
3. Warm up with some spicy jerk chicken
I know what you’re thinking – jerk chicken in the mountains?! Well, I’ll let you in a secret, I never visit Jasper without visiting my favorite little Jamaican cafe called The Spice Joint. It is so tasty and one of the absolute best places to eat lunch in Jasper.
The Spice Joint is located in the heart of Jasper town. They specialize in Jamaican food and you guessed it, jerk chicken! Daniel and I were recommended this place by some friends and ever since trying it we have been back several times.
Our personal favorites are the crab grilled cheese and the jerk chicken grilled cheese. However, they also serve lots of sandwiches, wraps, salad, and great coffee!
The Spice Joint is open every day except for Wednesdays from 11 am until 5 pm, except on Fridays and Saturdays when they close at 7 pm. Expect to pay about $15 CAD for a dish. You can dine in or just grab something to go here.
4. Go ice climbing
Ice climbing is winter’s answer to rock climbing. Although to me, it’s even better! Imagine, climbing to the top of a frozen waterfall – it’s a thrilling adventure activity.
In Jasper, you can book a 6-hour long ice climbing tour that will teach you some basic skills to climb a frozen waterfall yourself equipped with crampons and axes. Rockaboo Tours is the only company that offers this tour, and tours depart daily from downtown Jasper.
After learning some fundamentals at the office, you’ll head to either Maligne Canyon, Tangle Creek, or Edge of the World to try out ice climbing for yourself! It is an exciting tour, and if I’m honest, ice climbing is a winter activity everybody must try at least once in their life.
Be sure to book your ice climber tour in advance to secure your spot.
5. Visit Athabasca Falls
If you’re going to visit only one waterfall in Jasper, then make it Athabasca Falls! To me, Athabasca Falls is actually more impressive than Sunwapta and well-worth checking out.
You can easily reach Athabasca Falls with a short 30 minute-long drive from Jasper town. The falls are also open all year round and while they are super powerful and impressive to see in the summer, in the winter, these frozen falls are pure magic. Definitely one of the best things to do in Jasper National Park in winter if you ask me.
6. Explore Sunwapta Falls
Sunwapta Falls is another stunning waterfall located only 40 minutes from Jasper town in Jasper National Park. It is only a short walk from the parking lot to the falls and there are a couple of trails to explore surrounding the falls including a bridge offering the best view.
Sure, Sunwapta is slightly less impressive than Athabasca Falls. But the two waterfalls are only located about ten minutes from each other, so you might as well visit both on the same day. Just be sure to have winter tires as the roads can be icy!
Although only a quick stop, you could turn this into a longer experience by staying overnight at the Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge. It’s a highly rated and a comfortable wilderness stay away from the hustle and bustle of town.
7. Drive the Icefields Parkway
Rated as one of the top 10 most scenic drives in the world by National Geographic, the Icefields Parkway is a 230 kilometer-long stretch of highway that connects Jasper and Lake Louise. Along this drive, you’ll be met with towering mountains, tons of waterfalls, and even the Columbia Icefield!
Although the drive really should only take around 3 hours, I would give yourself an entire day in order to stop as much as you’d like! Use our Icefields Parkway itinerary to plan your epic one-day adventure from Jasper to Banff!
Be sure to get gas before you leave Jasper because there is only one very overpriced gas station along the drive located at Saskatchewan River Crossing. Also, bring some snacks and water as facilities are very limited.
Winter driving conditions are also something to consider. You must have winter tires or snow chains to drive the Icefields Parkway in winter. Also, on occasion bad road conditions will force road closure – so check road reports before you depart.
8. Spend the night in a cozy cabin
Nothing beats cozying up next to the fire inside a log cabin on a cold winter night. That’s why one of the best things to do in Jasper in the winter is to spend a night (or three!) in a cabin!
There are a few different places you can do this in and around Jasper. Pocahontas Cabins is the most rustic offering traditional log cabins that are exactly what you picture when you think of a log cabin in the Canadian Rockies. However, they’re located a fair way outside of town, so while it is peaceful, it may not be the most convenient.
If you want a luxurious cabin stay, you can’t beat the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. It’s in a quiet but convenient location and offers all of the amenities you could ever want and more. But just beware, not all rooms are actual cabins.
9. Go stargazing and visit the Jasper Planetarium
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada declared Jasper National Park a “Dark Sky Preserve” in 2011, meaning that there is little to no light pollution around making it perfect for stargazing! Jasper is one of only 17 Dark Sky Preserves in Canada!
So, while you’re visiting Jasper be sure to take some time to look up at the stars on a clear night! There are a few stargazing apps you can download that will help you identify constellations and planets, or, you can actually visit the Jasper Planetarium and join a staring tour to really learn and experience more!
10. Treat yourself to coffee (and snacks!) at the Bear Paw
If you want a warm cup of coffee on a cold winter morning in Jasper, then you need to go to the Bear Paw Bakery. My sister actually recommended the Bear Paw Bakery to us before our latest trip to Jasper so we decided to check it out for ourselves.
The Bear Paw Bakery offers tons of delicious baked goods as well as freshly brewed coffee. If you want a nice breakfast and cup of coffee one morning while in Jasper then this is your place. I personally recommend their raspberry white chocolate scones – so tasty!
There are actually two Bear Paw Bakeries in Jasper (which speaks to their popularity.) Typically, this one is less busy so try going there if you can.
11. Drive out to Maligne Lake
Maligne Lake is amazing. This blue lake in the summer is home to the picturesque Spirit Island (one of the best things to do in Jasper) and scenic lake cruises. In fact, in the summer, Maligne Lake is a busy tourist destination.
But in the winter, Maligne Lake is calm and quiet. Dan and I drove out there one day to find only a handful of other cars. The serenity itself was worth the drive.
But besides seeing Maligne Lake in all her glory, the drive from Jasper to Maligne Lake is a spectacular activity too. This drive takes around an hour and at every turn, you’ll be treated with stunning views.
Be sure to stop at Medicine Lake too and enjoy the snowy mountain views that’ll surround you!
Related read: For more info read our blog about the different things to do at Maligne Lake!
12. Go snowshoeing
Snowshoeing is one way to get out in nature in the winter and enjoy hiking in a safe, and fun, way! With a pair of snowshoes, you can hike to viewpoints and enjoy hiking trails that are usually only accessible in the summer.
You can either join a snowshoeing tour or just rent a pair in town and find a trail on your own. I highly recommend one of the trails that start at Maligne Lake. Moose Lake Loop is an easy trail at only 2.6 kilometers long, and Mary Schäffer Loop is another good option at 2.9 kilometers.
You can rent snowshoes at Pure Outdoors in Jasper for only $16 CAD per day.
13. Ride in a horse-drawn sleigh
Pyramid Lake Resort offers horse-drawn sleigh rides in the winter months. This is a great family activity in Jasper, or even perfect for anybody on a Jasper honeymoon!
Sleigh rides start at $30 CAD per adult with discounted rates for youth and children. Sleigh rides typically only operate on the weekends, however, you can check their website for updated information and book your ride.
14. Indulge in locally made chocolate
Right in Jasper town is a candy store called the Candy Bear Lair and what sets it apart from most candy stores is that they make lots of the sweets right there in the shop in front of you! The store offers all sorts of candies and chocolates, and I have to admit, the caramel chocolates they make are actually to die for!
I must warn you though, don’t visit unless you plan on buying something. Once you enter the store the smell of chocolate and candy-covered apples will have your mouth watering and I doubt you’ll be able to resist trying a few treats.
15. Drink locally brewed beer
You can’t come to Jasper and skip visiting the Jasper Brewing Company. First of all, they serve their amazing craft beer right on tap. Daniel and I love their Trail Sessions IPA!
Second, they have delicious food. The portions are huge and the prices are good too. The fried chicken burger is my favorite.
Jasper Brewing has a large indoor seating area to keep warm while you drink a cold beer. It’s also a popular place for people to head for Apres Ski beers.
They are open daily from 12 pm to late and offer a late-night happy hour after 9 pm. Expect to pay about $8.50 CAD for a pint of beer and about $17 for a meal such as a burger. You’ll see the brewery in Jasper town right on Connaught Drive, you can’t miss it as it’s always buzzing with people.
16. Go cross country skiing
Cross-country skiing is a great way to stay active in the winter in Jasper. Around Jasper, there are a few different areas that actually have groomed cross-country ski trails. Head to Whirlpool cross country ski hub for a variety of trails, otherwise, Athabasca Falls, Pyramid Lake, and Wabasso Campground all also offer groomed trails.
If you don’t have your own skis you can rent them pretty cheap in town from a variety of different shops. Pure Outdoors only charges $16 CAD for a full-day rental of skis, boots, and poles.
One of the things I like most about cross country skiing is that anybody can do it! Even if you’ve never skied before you’ll be able to pick it up without a lesson or anything.
17. Visit Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake is one of the many amazing lakes near Jasper. Located only a 10-minute drive from Jasper town, Pyramid Lake is a calm lake that sits at the base of Pyramid Mountain creating a picture-perfect setting.
My favorite thing to do at Pyramid Lake is to walk the boardwalk out to the island. From here, you get 360-degree views of the mountains! There is limited parking near the boardwalk so it is best to come first thing in the morning or later in the evening to have a better chance of getting a spot.
Just around the lake from the boardwalk, there is also a restaurant and hotel. Pyramid Lake Resort would be an amazing place to stay if you want to spend lots of time at the lake enjoying the views.
During the right conditions, you can go ice skating on Pyramid Lake. The hotel also offers snowshoeing experiences and horse-drawn sleigh rides. It really is a great place to go in the winter in Jasper!
18. Go shopping and enjoy downtown
Connaught Street is Jasper’s busiest street, and chances are it is the first place you’ll visit when you arrive in Jasper town. Along this straight stretch of road, you’ll find most of the restaurants I’ve mentioned above, along with tons of little shops!
From unique sports shops to those filled with funny souvenirs, there is a ton of shopping to be done! If you need to pick up a gift for anyone back home or even yourself, this is the place to do it!
19. Check out the ice bubbles at Abraham Lake
Abraham Lake is easily one of the most impressive winter destinations in Canada. Although not technically located in Jasper National Park, it is just outside the park boundaries in Clearwater Country. From Jasper town, it’ll take just over 2 hours to drive to Abraham Lake.
What makes Abraham Lake so special to visit in the winter is the methane bubble that you’ll see in the ice. It’s a really neat phenomenon and makes for some cool photos. The lake is also great for ice skating and on a clear day, the views of the surrounding mountains are magnificent.
For something extra special join this guided helicopter tour to Abraham Lake. It also includes a guided snowshoeing experience and well, the views from a helicopter over the Canadian Rockies are out of this world!
20. Dog sledding
Dog sledding is one of the most fun things to do in Jasper in the winter. All cozy in a sled, you will be pulled through the snow by a team of 6-8 dogs who absolutely love to run!
Dan and I went dog sledding once in Canmore and it was so much fun. It was clear to us how much the dogs love their jobs and how friendly they all are.
Although we haven’t yet done any dog sledding in Jasper, because we loved it in Banff so much we figured we needed to include it!
It is important to note that there is no dog sledding experience offered right in Jasper town and that you’ll need to travel 90 minutes to Valemont for it. The tour company can provide transportation if required.
Where to Stay in Jasper in Winter
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 makes it a great place to stay. They offer budget dorm beds as well as affordable private rooms.
Patricia Lake Bungalows (Moderate Budget)
Patricia Lake Bungalows are a great place to stay if you want a comfortable stay for a reasonable price. There are some standard rooms as well as some units with kitchenettes. There is a hot tub on-site as well as a playground for children and the location is close to town, but far enough that it is quiet and relaxing.
You can check prices and book Patricia Lake Bungalows on Booking.com.
Whistlers Inn (Moderate to High 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 (pictured above) – need I say more?
You can check prices and availability on Booking.com.
Pyramid Lake Resort (Luxury)
This place 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!
You can check availability and book on Booking.com.
Important Tips for Visiting Jasper in Winter
- Drive carefully – In the winter, the roads in and around Jasper can be icy or snow-covered. Be sure to drive to the conditions and have winter tires! Also, allow extra time to get from one destination to another.
- Dress warm – It can get really, really cold in the winter months in Jasper. It is best to be prepared for extreme conditions with a winter jacket, snow pants, gloves, and a beanie (toque) for any outdoor activities.
- Book in advance – Although the summer is the busiest time in Jasper, it can also get busy during the winter – especially on the weekends! To avoid disappointment, be sure to book your hotel and tours well in advance.
Related read: If you are visiting during any other season, be sure to read our blog about the absolute best things to do in Jasper!
Before you go…
I hope this blog has helped you plan your winter adventure in Jasper. With so many fun things to do in Jasper in winter, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time!
Be sure to check out our other blogs about traveling Canada as well as a few related ones below: