Imagine snow dusted mountains, cabins and cozy rides through the Canadian Rockies. That’s how we spend winters in Canada’s beautiful national park; and Jasper puts its best foot forward with cross country skiing, northern lights, ice climbing, spa & relaxation and a vibrant culinary scene. We have put together this list of amazing things to do in Jasper in winter – for skiers and non skiers!
Is Jasper National Park open in winter?
Jasper National Park is open all year round. It is quite stunning to wake up to mountain views, go snowshoeing or skiing, and ring in the festive season. Traveling to Jasper in winter calls for additional preparation in terms of driving, road accessibility, packing, and opening of attractions (like Jasper Sky Tram and Miette Hot Springs are closed in winters).
We have included our packing list, and detailed travel tips in this post. Keep reading!
Table of Contents
12 Things to do in Jasper in Winter: Activities & Attractions
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Jasper is open in winter, so get ready to experience the finest in the Canadian Rockies, from outdoorsy activities, staycations to culinary experience.
Cross Country Skiing at the Marmot Ski Basin (or hanging out at the Caribou Chalet)
To experience skiing in Jasper, Marmot Ski Basin is your place. The ski season here starts a little earlier than the Ski Big 3 in Banff and Lake Louise. The ski season in Marmot runs from mid November to early May.
Marmot Basin has 91 runs on four mountain faces, and is an alpine ski area.
If you are new to skiing, you can take ski lessons, and even rent equipment on-site. There are shuttle rides offered from Jasper town (Marmot Store near Tim Hortons), or hotels (including Jasper Fairmont and Marmot Lodge).
We drove to the resort ourselves. You have to be very careful when driving through the steep lanes. Parking is available for free, and there are 4 parking lots. Head to lot #3 and #4 to park, and then use the metal stairs to get to the ski area.
For equipment rentals, you will see the rental area before heading to the parking area. You can collect the gear (15 minute parking time), and then head to the parking lot. We have seen many skiers head to the slopes from parking lot #1, easily.
For non-skiers, this is a great place to take some ski lessons. Or go snowboarding. If you are not into skiing, you are still welcomed at the resort to see the slopes and dine at the Caribou Chalet amidst stunning views!
Ski tickets start at $85 CAD for half day. More details here
Hours of operation: 09:00 am to 04:00 pm, every day during the ski reason
Travel time from Jasper town: 30 minutes
Icewalk at the Maligne Canyon
Located only 15 minutes away from Jasper town is the Maligne Canyon. (Note Maligne Lake is further 50 minutes away from town). During winters, the canyon turns into a wonderland of sorts, filled with sparkling white ice formations.
There are frozen waterfalls, ice caves, and icicles to marvel at. You can reach the Canyon by yourself by car but ensure your vehicle has 4×4 with winter tires on – as the roads leading to the canyon are not cleared, and there is fear of skidding and getting stuck without any help nearby.
You can snowshoe, and head through to the viewing platform by parking the car near the Wilderness Cafe. Ensure you also carry cleats and wear warm clothing to complete the walk through various bridges into the canyon’s bottom (you will see signs for bridges 5 and 6 when you drive to the lookout area. Bridge 5 is the prettiest).
If you don’t have cleats and are not comfortable driving, then book a guided tour.
This is a great opportunity to explore frozen waterfalls, ice caves, and incredible ice formations, marveling at the power of nature.
The Maligne Canyon Icewalk Tour is a great option for anyone who does not ski or snowboard. It takes 3.50 hours to complete the entire loop. Tours are operational in December (onwards to early February).
In this tour, you get to explore Jasper’s Maligne Valley, check out Karst topography, and the mystery of the “disappearing” Medicine Lake. Take time to capture photographs by the stunning geological features, and the frozen waterfalls. As always wear warm clothing; the tour agency provides cleats, helmets and safety equipment for you.
You can also embark on ice climbing here at the Maligne canyon.
Hours of operation: 24 hours, check tour hours here
Travel time from Jasper town: 20 minutes
Staycation in a cabin
Who wouldn’t love to wake up to snowy lands and mountain views, with a cup of coffee? We love to do that. There are tons of cabins in Jasper that you can book for a staycation. You have the entire place to yourself to sit back, relax and get cozy.
Light up the fireplace, enjoy some me/alone time, and just have a great time in the mountains.
In one of our winter trips, we stayed at the Pocahontas Cabins, which is about 30 minutes from Jasper town (but close to Miette Hot Springs, but they are closed in the winters). These cabins are super affordable, have a fully equipped kitchenette and free parking.
This property also has a hot tub, restaurant, and a souvenir shop on-site. Book your stay at the Pocahontas Cabins here
Other cabin favorites include
- Jasper Fairmont Lodge: True Fairmont style, but with a flavor of the Rockies staying at the JFL is a real treat. From spa, pond hockey, winter walks and delightful meals, you can’t go wrong here. Check availability here
- Bear Hill Lodge: With beautiful woody rooms, and free breakfast – you don’t have to try too hard to love the Bear Hill Lodge. The location is great – 10 minutes to the townsite (with access to tons of restaurants), and Patricia and Pyramid Lakes. More about the Bear Hill Lodge here
- Jasper East Cabins: Cute cabins with mesmerizing mountain views, Jasper East Cabins are quite a hit with travelers. Located about 40 minutes from Jasper town, and close to Athabasca River, the chalets are very spacious and comfortable for a staycation. There are kids play area, as well fireplace and kitchenettes. More about their amenities here
- Pyramid Lake Resort: Located by the popular Pyramid Lake and Island, this resort is a perfect place to stay in – and soak in amazing views, and go snowshoeing and romantic walks. You can book your stay here
Sightseeing and snowshoeing at the Pyramid Lake and Island
Pyramid Lake is located 15 minutes from Jasper town. During winters, it is a snowshoeing heaven. The lake lies at the foot of the Pyramid Mountain. You can rent snowshoes at the Pyramid Lake Resort, or head there to warm up your belly or just with a hot beverage.
From the lake resort, continue driving to reach Pyramid Island. It is about 1.50 km further down from the lake road. There is parking available on the left side of the road, and then from there you can take the broadwalk to reach the island area.
You can access this area in the winters, just ensure you wear warm boots with good threading or cleats. It is very beautiful, with everything covered in snow!
Admire frozen Athabasca Falls
You can visit the beautiful Athabasca Falls in the winter too. The waterfalls are located about 30 minutes from Jasper town.
In the winter the falls are frozen and they form stunning ice structures (similar to Maligne Canyon). The potholes formed by the waters, are now filled with snow.
The falls area is open all year round. If you are visiting in early winter or spring, ensure you have winter tires on and are wearing cleats or snowshoes to hike/walk the area.
Hours of operation: 24 hours
Travel time from Jasper town: 30 minutes
Spa and relaxation at the Fairmont Jasper Lodge
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is super decorated for the winters. If you are staying here you can access many services including shuttle to Marmot Ski Basin, and indulging in their spa offerings.
If you are unable to stay here, we recommend that you head there for a delicious meal or just for snacks at one of their stunning restaurants – Emerald or the Orso Trattoria. Their food is always exquisite and perfectly prepared, and for the views alone, it is worth it. One of my favorite coffee drinks here is the Mountain Coffee, try that when you are in Jasper next!
Inside the property, you can also enjoy pond hockey (one of the fun things to do in Canada in winter) at Lake Mildred, or snowshoe/ walk round in the complex.
It is worth mentioning that every year Jasper Fairmont offers Christmas Vacation Packages, where guests are given a deluxe suite for their stay and are welcomed to celebrate the holiday season in their stunning Emerald Lounge. This service is offered in December (around Christmas).
If you are visiting in November in Jasper, you can also participate in the Christmas in November festival. It is a Christmassy event with food, drinks and decorations, and something that has been a tradition for 30 years! Book your stay at the Fairmont Jasper Lodge.
Jasper Lodge also has a dark sky igloo/ planetarium where you can chase Northern Lights. Jasper is a dark sky preserve, and it is possible to see green dancing lights at night.
Checkout wildlife in the wilderness
Jasper will delight you with wildlife at your doorstep. When we first visited Jasper in 2015 (late fall), we saw moose and elks by our hotel. Fast forward a few years, while traveling through the Icefields Parkway (Lake Lousie to Jasper), and Edmonton to Jasper town (including Maligne Lake Road), we have spotted so many wild animals.
So it is important to drive slowly and be mindful of wildlife when heading to Jasper, and also don’t feed or go near them. During winters, moose can lick your vehicles so you have to be careful when you park your cars.
It is really a wonderful experience to watch wildlife out in the open, minding their own business (and sometimes even portraying a show with elks fighting!)
Head to the Jasper Brewery Co
Jasper downtown is not super huge, and can be explored in 15 to 20 minutes. But it is packed with culinary delights. We particularly enjoyed our time at the local Jasper Brewing Co, and highly recommend visiting it.
They offer craft beers, and pub food in a cozy atmosphere. They are located on the main street in Jasper – at 624 Connaught Dr.
Visit Sunwapta Falls in the winter
Sunwapta Falls are a stunning pair of waterfalls located in Jasper National Park, about 40 minutes away from the town-site. It is accessible as you drive along the Icefields Parkway. During winters, the lodge near the falls is closed. However you can reach the viewing area by car, and by snowshoeing/walking (cleats on) to view the falls covered in snow!
It is just so pretty.
The bridge, and access to the viewing area is filled with snow, so you have to be careful and wear proper boots to reach there. You can go on winter hikes in the area, but ensure you check for weather alerts before embarking on the trails.
Drive through the scenic Icefields Parkway
Icefields Parkway connects Jasper to Banff via Lake Lousie. The entire route of 232 kilometres is filled with jaw-dropping scenery. It is even better in the winters, as you drive through the snow dusted mountains.
It takes 3 hours to complete the drive without stops. If you are heading to Sunwapta Falls or beyond you will see a glimpse of this scenic route.
This is also perfect if you are enroute to Banff National Park from here!
Dog Sledding: Winter Activities in Jasper Travel Bucket list items
Other than the popular attractions listed above, you may want to enjoy fat biking and dog sledding in Jasper in winter.
Alaskan Huskies taking you through snowy scenery – all sparkly, and gooey with amazing views – is an experience to behold forever. And you can book for the same with the Cold Fire Creek Dogsledding and Sundog Tours. Note that dog sledding tours start in December, and Tourism Jasper website lists the tour agencies that are open for the season, you can check them out here.
Fat biking in Jasper’s snowy landscape
Fat biking is a unique way to get some exercise in the winters. Fat bikes come with low pressure and wide tires that makes biking easy and fun. You can get bike rentals at the Jasper Source for Sports.
Visiting Jasper National Park in Winter: Planning for your trip, weather, packing & accommodation
Jasper National Park is the largest park in the Canadian Rockies. The nearest international airport is Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta.
- Fly: If flying internationally, Edmonton is your best bet. If you are planning to explore Banff and Jasper on the same trip, then Calgary is also a good option. So you can travel to Calgary > Banff > Lake Louise (Icefields Parkway) > Jasper.
- Drive: Jasper is easily connected by road. So whether you are driving through the Icefields Parkway or from Kamloops BC to Jasper road connectivity is good in the winters. We live in Edmonton, so we drove from the city to Jasper. We have also taken road trips from Edmonton to the Rockies, all the way to BC (summer, and early winter months).
- Train: You can travel from Edmonton to Jasper via VIA train, or embark on the scenic Rocky Mountaineer train ride from Vancouver.
- Bus: Buses are available to take you from Edmonton to Jasper, and from other places in Alberta and British Columbia
Parks Canada Fees: To enter and stay in Jasper National Park, there is a daily entry fee of $20 CAD per vehicle. You can also purchase an annual Discovery Pass for $139.40 CAD (vehicle, upto 7 people), that allows for unlimited visit to National Parks and sites for a year in Canada.
Jasper Visitor Information Centre, located in the townsite, can provide additional details or support when you are in the park. They are open daily from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm, except December 25, 26 and January 01.
Jasper in Winter: Months, temperature and packing
Winter in Jasper National Park starts in November, and continues till February. January is the coldest month of the year, with temperatures dropping to – 15 degree celsius.
- November: 0° / -9 degree Celsius (High/Low)
- December: -5° / -14°
- January: – 5° / -15°
- February: -1° / -12°
Packing for Jasper Winter Activities
There are some winter essentials to pack for Jasper National Park.
- Winter Parka: Invest in a nice warm parka jacket to enjoy the winters outside. Here is my favorite jacket from The North Face. It has a good length, and is super warm. Click to view this winter jacket.
- Base Layers: Super important to wear long-johns or base layers (top and bottom), to stay warm and toasty. Click to view my favorite pair bottom here, and top here
- Winter Boots: Wear warm boots that come with a good grip. They are super handy as you walk in snow, or on icy pavements. Buy my favorite pair here
- Add cleats for when you go exploring snow-covered canyons, and falls. Click to buy here
- Warm Beanie: Wear something in bright colors for a contrasting look to the white background. I am wearing these from Amazon
- Also pack: Warm socks, warm gloves, pretty scarf
- Prefer to shop from Amazon, here are my top picks
Where to stay in Jasper?
For winter months, we enjoyed staying in a cabin – cozy, cute, and uber romantic. But there are lodges, hotels, motels and Airbnbs in Jasper too. Take a look.
- Pocahontas Cabins: Affordable cabin stay, located 40 minutes outside of Jasper site. Cozy, clean and comfortable accommodation with kitchenette, fireplace and souvenir shop on-site. Book your stay here
- Fairmont Jasper Lodge: 4 star property with stunning interiors, lakeside staycation and beautiful restaurants on-site. Book your stay here
- Marmot Lodge: We stayed here during one of our visits. Located in Jasper town, Marmot Lodge is a fuss free accommodation, with hot tub on-site. Find more about this lodge here
- Crimson Lodge: Another Jasper town property, The Crimson Lodge is a stylish accommodation option in the mountains. It is one of the popular hotels to stay in Jasper. They have a pool onsite, and is pet-friendly. Click to book your stay here
Other frequently asked questions about Jasper in winter
Can you drive from Banff to Jasper in winter?
Yes, you can drive from Banff to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway route. However, if you have never driven in the winter, I would say avoid it. If you are comfortable driving in the winter, ensure the vehicle is equipped for winters (tires, insurance, etc.). Icefields Parkway might have seasonal closures for a day or two, depending on the weather (avalanche area).
Driving in the winter through the Rockies is amazing. We encountered a lot of wildlife each time we drove in the winters.
Is Athabasca Falls open in winter?
Athabasca Falls is open in the winters. You will need cleats or snowshoes to get to the viewing area. The area is also open for winter hikes, where there are stunning ice formations, similar to the Maligne Canyon.
How many days do you need in Jasper?
We have explored Jasper as a stopover for a few hours (4 to 6 hours), weekend trip and upto 5 days. And we feel that 3 full days are enough to explore the attractions, and indulge in an activity of your choice.
Here is how you can explore in 3 days
- Day 1: Visit Pyramid & Patricia Lakes go snowshoeing, spa at the Fairmont Lodge and dining there
- Day 2: Skiing at Marmot Basin, downtown Jasper for shopping, head to the Jasper brewery in the evening
- Day 3: Take a ice walk tour to Maligne Canyon in the morning, drive to Sunwapta falls and back to Jasper
Jasper was a treat in the winters. We hope you have a safe trip to the Canadian Rockies!
Useful Alberta Posts:
- Banff Accommodation: Best Airbnbs in Banff National Park
- Banff Christmas: Banff Christmas Guide
- Banff Hikes: Best Hikes in Banff National Park
- Bragg Creek: Things to do in Bragg Creek
- Calgary: Day trips from Calgary
- Calgary to Lake Louise: Calgary to Lake Louise Drive
- Grande Cache: Things to do in Grande Cache
- Lake Louise: Things to do in Lake Louise in winter
- Small Towns in Alberta: Best small towns in Alberta