Without a doubt, Jasper is one of the most beautiful destinations in all of Canada. Located within Jasper National Park and at the northern end of the world-famous Icefields Parkway, it’s a magical outdoor destination with towering mountains, snaking rivers, clear lakes, and lush forest. Anyone interested in outdoor adventure or simply admiring some of Earth’s grand vistas will love Jasper, and in the winter, it’s all covered in white sparkly snow.
Like most of Canada, Jasper is mostly visited in the summer months. This is when tourists arrive in droves and when Canadians are eager to hit the road, causing campgrounds to fill up months in advance and hotels to throw up a sign advertising no vacancy. After all, the weather is generally pleasant and there are more attractions, such as the Jasper Skytram and the Columbia Icefields Explorer.
But you know what season we love?
We love the WINTER!
The winter is a magical time to visit the Canadian Rockies. Not only are the landscapes incredibly beautiful with all the fluffy snow, but there are also loads of awesome winter activities that anyone can enjoy. As long as you know what to wear during the winter in Canada, you’ll have a wonderful time.
How to Get to Jasper
Jasper is east of Edmonton and at the northern tip of the world-famous Icefields Parkway. Some of the most popular ways to get to Jasper are below:
Banff to Jasper: From Banff to Lake Louise is the Trans-Canada Highway and then from Lake Louise to Jasper is via the spectacular Icefields Parkway, an incredibly popular Canada road trip. We highly recommend you read our travel guide if you do this trip as there are so many things to see along the way.
Calgary to Jasper: This is essentially the same trip as above with the addition of driving from Calgary to Banff.
Edmonton to Jasper: Jasper is the closest mountain town to Edmonton and so it’s popular with Edmontonians. The drive is fairly straightforward and is almost entirely west. It’s mostly flat and foresty until you pass Hinton and the mountains start to arise.
Things to Do in Jasper in Winter
While some attractions close in the winter, others open! There are also lots of summer activities that can be done in the winter, with the only difference being the snow and ice beneath your feet. Just like visiting Banff in the winter, there are all sorts of incredible things to do in Jasper at all times during the year.
Maligne Canyon Ice Walk
Perhaps one of the most iconic winter attractions in Jasper is the Maligne Canyon Ice Walk. Maligne Canyon is a popular hiking spot in the summer as well, but in the winter, it’s full of frozen waterfalls and ice caves. It’s also the only time you can actually walk on the bottom of the canyon due to the fact that the river actually drains out and then freezes over. So, rather than look down into the canyon in the summer, you can now lookup. This is such a beautiful experience and a fairytale for photographers. It’s also free to enter, but we certainly recommend talking to people to make sure it’s safe. We also recommend wearing ice cleats to help with traction at the bottom. If you’d rather go on a tour with a local guide who will show you the way, provide facts on the area, and get you fitted with warm boots, ice cleats, and a helmet, then there are options for that as well. We went with Sundog Tours, a company that also provides transportation throughout the mountains.
Tip: Pop into Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen for a bite to eat or a hot drink.
Skiing at Marmot Basin
One of the most popular winter activities in Jasper is skiing and snowboarding at Marmot Basin, an excellent place to experience skiing in the Rocky Mountains. Due to its relative isolation in comparison to Skiing in Banff, the mountain is quiet, especially on weekdays. It’s located roughly 20-minutes from the town of Jasper and has ski runs for all experience levels, including the ability to ski right out to your car. There’s also a bunny hill, ski lessons, rentals, and a few different restaurants. Oh, and the views are unreal!
If you’re up for a real thrill, try ice climbing! With so many frozen waterfalls throughout the region, there are endless options for ice climbing. Now, obviously, if you’re not an avid ice climber, this is one sport where you absolutely need to hire a guide. During our visit, we went with Rockaboo Mountain Adventures and they provided us with all the necessary gear, including boots, crampons, a harness, and a helmet. They’ll then choose the most ideal frozen waterfall to climb, depending on ability, weather, and any other factors that might come into play. When we went, we actually went about an hour outside of Jasper on the highway from Jasper to Banff and visited Tangle Creek Falls, a beautiful frozen waterfall right off the highway. Our guide chose this area because it was a chillier day and due to the time of the season, the sun would be shining on us for most of the day. It was a great choice because the sun kept us warm and it really helped us take some amazing photos.
Either way, ice climbing is a fun workout and a really cool (pun intended) and unique way to experience the Canadian Rockies.
If you like biking, fat tire biking is the thing to do in the winter. Equipped with fat tires, these bikes make it easier to push yourself through the snow. There are a variety of places that rent fat tire biking and trails are free to use. However, we found it easy to just go to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, rent our bikes there, and hit up the many trails they have throughout their property, including many different frozen lakes. If you opt for this location, they can give you a map and guide you in the right direction.
Ice skating is another very popular Canadian winter activity and Jasper has a variety of frozen lakes that are cleared for you to enjoy. Just like fat biking, we went to the Fairmont to enjoy the really big and awesome skating rink track they’ve created on one of their lakes. They also rent skates, which just makes it easy and you don’t have to stay there to enjoy these outdoor attractions.
Like many places across Canada in the winter, cross-country skiing is very popular. This is because it’s a great way to get exercise and to enjoy winter landscapes without having to ski down the face of a mountain. It’s also far cheaper than downhill skiing because you don’t have to pay for a lift ticket. It certainly helps to take a lesson or ask someone for tips on how to do it, but once you have the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. It’s also a great way to burn mega calories, which just makes that hot chocolate with marshmallows tastes so much better at the end of the day.
Just like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing is also very popular in Jasper and the Canadian Rockies. However, the extra benefit of snowshoeing is that it’s just as easy as hiking and it’s one of the cheapest winter activities you can do. All you need is snowshoes, which can usually be rented for $25 per day or less, or bought for $150 or so. All you do is strap them to your winter boots and find a trail. Unlike cross-country skis, which require a groomed trail, snowshoes can take you anywhere, and they do particularly well in deep snow. So, find yourself a trail, strap on your snowshoes, and go for a hike through Jasper’s winter wilderness.
Often times when people think of the winter in Canada, they think of dogsledding. What can be more magical than being pulled by a team of powerful dogs through a snow-covered forest in the middle of the Rocky Mountains? Luckily for you, this is a popular thing to do in Jasper! It’s not located right in the town but is only about an hour’s drive into British Columbia. There are a number of different tours ranging from a couple of hours to a full day, but either one will give you memories that will last a lifetime. It’s like walking the dog, except there’s a half dozen of them, and they’re taking you for a walk!
Jasper in Winter
As you can see, a Jasper winter is a special time of year. While the weather can get very cold, there are also many semi-mild days with the sun shining bright and the snow sparkling like glitter. While some attractions are closed during the winter, others are open. The streets are much quieter, hotels are much cheaper, and the beauty is unlike anywhere else. We highly recommend visiting Jasper during the winter months.
For more things to do in Alberta, check out these articles below:
Thanks for the article, very informative, will definitely used this information for a future trip
Susan Ashcraft says
Kay L says
Wow so much to do, we did outdoor activities during Covid. Thanks for the information
Atera Amburn says
I loved visiting Jasper and Banff in the summer but after reading this article I would certainly consider going back in the winter. Thank you for the great idea!
Bob J Kitz says
I go to Jasper a couple of times a year. It is a spectacular place.
Thanks for sharing this awesome information! I love exploring our beautiful province. Can’t wait to visit all of these locations!
Cheryl Pearcey says
Visiting Jasper is definitely on my bucket-list.
Gorgeous! I loved visiting in the summer, will definitely have to return for some winter adventures
Janice Shechosky says
Great article – lots of useful info!
Had visited Jasper in the winter and so disappointed we could not do a dog sled run as they were all booked. Now we need to go back as there is so much more to do that we were not aware of. Thanks for the tips!
Matthew G. Bailey says
Ironically, we didn’t get to do it because they didn’t have enough people haha
Every time I’m on the west side of my city I think to myself… just keep driving until you get to Jasper. I’ve been feeling like I need to see the mountains and breathe the fresh cool air and get away. One day soon I AM just going to keep driving and leave my cares behind. 🙂
Matthew G. Bailey says
haha you should! You’re in Edmonton I take it?
Sandra Kliewer-Morin says
I didn’t realize how beautiful it was. I am so glad I follow on all my social media.
Been to Jasper once in the summer. Went up the mountain in the gondola but hiked down.
Matthew G. Bailey says
Good way to do it!
Viv Sluys says
I have only driven through Jasper once. My grandma used to love visiting the ice fields there. She just passed away this month. This article reminds me that I want to go to Jasper in the winter because of the stories she told me about it.
Matthew G. Bailey says
Awww really sorry to hear Viv. The icefields are amazing
K. THESEN says
The canyon walk looks amazing!!
Thomas Liam Aguinaga says
So fascinating, learned a lot!