Things to do in Jasper National Park on a Winter Weekend

The Best Things to Do in Jasper National Park on a Winter Weekend Getaway

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Jasper National Park in the winter. Snow capped mountains behind a flowing tree lined icy river.

Jasper National Park is the perfect stop for your weekend getaway. Located in the province of Alberta, Jasper is calmer and less crowded than it’s Rocky Mountain counterpart Banff making it a great place to go for a weekend of rest and relaxation. Surrounded by majestic snow-covered mountains make the cozy town a magical winter wonderland.

Arriving in Jasper on a Friday evening instead of Saturday morning gives you an extra chance of an aurora borealis sighting. This town is known for its Dark Sky Preserve, which is an area with no artificial lighting and measures to reduce light pollution from nearby cities.

Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis shining bright green in a dark sky with a mountain in the back ground.

I suggest spending your first evening at the Jasper Planetarium inside the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. The planetarium has an incredible heated 50-seat dome theatre and the largest telescope in the Rockies! 

Jasper National Park is a hugely popular place for outdoor winter activities. Here’s a list of my favourite ways to spend a weekend there.

The Best Things to Do in Jasper National Park in Winter

Wildlife Sighting Tours

Winter is a great time to spot wildlife, such as deer, moose, elk, long-horned sheep, coyotes and even wolves in Jasper National Park. But you won’t see any bears —they’re all sleeping during winter! The glistening white snow provides a beautiful backdrop and makes the brown and black speckles of animals pop out even more. Make sure to pack your binoculars! You can also improve your chances of spotting animals by going on a wildlife tour with Sun Dog Tours.

Dog Sledding

Two dog sledding dogs playing in the snow

Be led through the stunningly beautiful snow-covered alpine valley by a pack of Alaskan Huskies. The highly trained dogs are so eager and excited to take you on an incredibly unique journey through snow-lined forests and past frozen lakes – all while being surrounded by the incredible Rocky Mountains. Cold Fire Creek offers one-hour tours and longer tours, depending on how much time you want to spend with these incredible dogs.

Snowshoeing

Jasper National Park is the largest park of its kind in the Rockies, with over 11,000 km² of protected land. The best places to head to for snowshoeing are Pyramid Bench and the Maligne Lake area, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views and potential wildlife sightings. Snowshoeing lets you access trails and land that hikers and cross-country skiers have great trouble accessing. You can hire snowshoeing gear from various locations throughout Jasper. But if you’re worried about setting out on your own, Sun Dog Tours and Walks and Talks Jasper both offer snowshoeing tours.

Skiing or Snowboarding

Marmot Basin is the place to head to if you’re up for a day of skiing or snowboarding on mountains covered in fresh powder and along beautiful tree-lined trails where you can admire picturesque views from the mountaintops. There’s a direct shuttle to the Marmot Basin from Jasper National Park, as well as several shops offering lessons and equipment rental.

Ice Climbing

If you’re a thrill-seeker, you can have a go at climbing a frozen waterfall in the incredible Maligne Canyon. Armed with ice picks, you’ll climb the multi-pitch waterfall that offers a fun and safe experience for all types of climber. Visit Rockaboo Mountain Adventures to book your tour today!

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk

Man climbing ice with ice picks and cleats in Jasper National Park at night in the winter. Rainbow color lights shine up the icicles from behind the frozen waterfall.

Strap on some anti-slip cleats and head down the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park. Inaccessible outside the winter season, the canyon’s normally flowing water freezes at this time of year, offering you a spectacular view from deep beneath the canyon’s walls. I went on a nighttime ice walk tour several years ago with a group of people from the Netherlands. They always yelled “log!” so we all knew to watch our step. At the time this made me laugh so hard and I still remember them to this day. It’s a great way to meet locals and travellers alike! Several walking tours are offered by Jasper Hikes & Tours, Sun Dog Tours and Maligne Adventures.

Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park. A huge natural waterfall in the middle of a forest in the mountains.

If you do only one thing in Jasper National Park, make sure you check out Athabasca Falls. Although the waterfall is always spectacular, there’s something extra special about it in the winter. The pathway is plowed so you’ll be able to walk safely to the half-frozen falls. The crisp, cold winter temperatures freeze the waterfall, but there’s still a flowing ice-cold river down below. It’s definitely a sight worth seeing.

If you don’t want to end up venturing too far out of town, you can take a self-guided walking tour around the Jasper townsite. You’ll visit the iconic Jasper the Bear statue and get a taste of Canada’s Aboriginal history at the Two Brothers Totem Pole. You can even stop by The Den, Jasper’s Wildlife Museum, for a chance to see a taxidermy Grizzly Bear!

Two Brothers Totem Pole in Jasper National Park Alberta. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains the Totem Pole towers high over the town of Jasper.

Where to Stay in Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park lodging options provide you with loads of really great hotels, inns and cabins to stay in. My personal favourites are the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, where you can also visit the planetarium dome and look through the telescope, and the Pyramid Lake Resort, located on a terraced hillside next to the enchanting Pyramid Lake.



Booking.com

Where to Eat in Jasper National Park

Jasper has a selection of fantastic restaurants, cafes, pizza places and pubs that offer incredible Canadian cuisine. Coco’s Café is my favourite for breakfast and lunch. Coco’s Cafe has fresh food with gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options. You’ve got to try the huevos rancheros wrap!

My second favourite is Jasper Pizza Place, which dishes up delicious wood-fired pizzas. Plus, it’s a local place and I love to support local businesses!

Jasper National Park is a bit out of the way compared to Banff National Park. This makes it the perfect getaway for a quiet weekend of relaxation and fun. You can get to Jasper from Edmonton by following Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) for 365km.

You can also reach Jasper National Park from Banff by taking the scenic Icefields Parkway (Highway 93). Don’t forget to check out the Athabasca Glacier along the way! Be aware that sometimes this road is closed due to adverse weather conditions and avalanches.

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Comments 20

  1. I have always wanted to go snow shoeing or snow sledding (…with the dogs would be even better). These all sound like great cold weather, winter activities. I’ve also never officially been skiing or snowboarding so I’d love to try those too—although I might be terrified. The older I get, the more I realize how easy it is to break my legs.

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      Yes!! Snowshoeing is such a work out too. I bought those snowshoes in an attempt to learn to love winter (still a work in progress). If you ever visit the Rockies in the winter (which I definitely think you should) – try it! You will instantly feel Canadian. Also, I do agree with you on the snowboarding and skiing – it’s a bit scary flying down those hills so fast! Leg safety not guaranteed.

  2. I remember once i went on a tour up the glacier in one of those all terrian vehicles and everyone was from france. They all started singing in french,needless to say it was a little awkward for me and my friend as we could only be quiet and smile.

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      Hahaha, that is what I love about people from other countries (or perhaps, just from French Canada.) They are always memorable in the best ways.

  3. I love this. I am not the biggest fan of cold weather, but your post makea me want to do all the things in the snow. Jasper National Park is stunningly beautiful anf the huskies are so cute. Thanks for adding another destination to my bucket list!

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      Yeah! It is beautiful in the summer too but there is something magical about the mountains in the winter!

  4. I love this! Jasper is one of my favourite places to go visit, and you definitely captured the highlights!
    My favourite place to eat there is definitely the Bear’s Paw Cafe!

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      Oh! I will definitely head to the Bear’s Paw Cafe on my next visit! Jasper is so wonderful!

  5. This looks amazing! Pinning for later- I’d love to get our boys here someday!

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  6. I’ve never participated in any snow related activities, so this is all foreign to me, but yet sounds like so much fun. Although, I’d probably have to start with the dog sledding to keep things on the safer side 😊. I love water falls, but a half-frozen one… Athabasca Falls definitely sounds up my alley and can’t miss. Great article and literal visual especially for someone like me that’s never participated in winter activities. Thanks for sharing another great piece.

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      Yes! You definitely have to experience it someday! I think the Rockies are a great way to start! I will warn you though about thinking the dogs – they run SO fast! It’s a bit scary! I really hope you make it up here sometime! And if I am in Alberta I can show you around.

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  7. Dog sledding is a dream of mine! Also, that photo of the dogs is adorable! Clearly I need to find a way to Jasper for a winter break… eventually!

    Those falls look gorgeous, as well! I love the fact that it’s frozen on the outside, but still flowing underneath. Nature is amazing!

    Hadn’t heard of Jasper before, but you’ve definitely made me want to check it out!

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      I know! I love everything about the mountains (in all seasons). There is something really awesome about the fact that the water still runs below! You should also check out Banff (I should blog about it sometime as I go there more often than Jasper). Banff is beautiful but way more tourists as it’s easily accessible from Calgary. If you make it to Canada let me know! I’d love to show you guys my favourite places!

  8. This is genuinely one of the most jaw-dropping places I think I’ve ever seen on a blog post! It looks very cold but still amazing!! We in the UK get the crap part of all the weather, super cold but never enough snow to have fun in – just enough to disrupt day to day life. I love the idea of wildlife spotting somewhere like this and quite fancy trying out snow shooing too! Great post 🙂

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      Thank you! The Rockies are so beautiful! I never get tired of seeing them! I always get so excited as I get closer and closer until I am completely surrounded by mountains. I hope you make it to Canada some time to see the mountains all snowy! I do love the rain that the UK has – but I can see how you could get tired of it!

  9. You have sold Jasper really well. There are some wonderful activities to be doing, the ice cave in the gorge sounds truly awesome. Somehow I always associate cold with just skiing as an activity without realising all else that you can do. Have to build up my cold tolerance though before I head off on a trip like this.

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      Yeah! I recommend just moving to Canada in September and your body will slowly get used to it. I now find -5°C to be relatively warm. I could go out without jacket to unload a car full of groceries. The wall of ice is beautiful and definitely worth a visit! Hope you and your family make it to Jasper someday!

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