Jasper is the kind of place that has to be seen to be believed. One of the most beautiful and remote corners of the world, it started out as a mountain town for hunting and fur trading.
It’s now a bucket-list destination surrounded by the glorious Rocky Mountains, but there’s still a taste of wilderness to be found here – a throwback to simpler times, with adventures to match.
Typically, visitors from all over the world would be flocking to Jasper for their winter vacations – especially from the UK, Australia and Germany. But with the pandemic still limiting travel, this is the perfect opportunity for Canadians to experience the magic of the places to be found right in their own back door.
Here are our top picks for what to do in Jasper this winter, many of which are experiences that are rare to find anywhere else.
1. Plan a road trip to get there
Begin in Edmonton, Calgary or Vancouver and hit the open road to get to Jasper – because we all know half the fun is in the journey, especially when the journeys are as spectacular as this.
From Edmonton, follow the Yellowhead Highway and drop by the sights on the way, including hot springs, the Galloway Station Museum and the world’s longest freshwater boardwalk. You can even grab a beer at Apex Predator Brewing, the province’s first rural brewery. It’s only about a four-hour drive but allow plenty of time for stops.
From Calgary, the four-hour drive can take one of the most scenic stretches of road in the world; the Icefields Parkway, which leads you through Banff and Lake Louise, along with plenty of glaciers and the stunning Athabasca Falls. This is bucket-list stuff, made even better by the adventures to be found along the way.
From Vancouver, the road trip extends out to be about nine hours; but you have the benefit of going through the Wells Grey park, packed with waterfalls, along with Mt Robson which is the highest point in the Rockies. In wintertime, you may want to consider making it an overnight journey and take some time in the truly Canadian towns of Revelstoke or Golden, and their local ski hills Revelstoke Mountain Resort and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
Click here to find out more about getting to Jasper.
2. Ski Marmot Basin
It’s not often that a ski resort can boast about being in a UNESCO World Heritage site – but the enormous Jasper National Park has been one since 1984. And with Ski Marmot Basin having the highest base elevation of any ski spot in Canada, you can be assured that skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels will have the perfect view over the national park as they adventure the slopes.
The scenery is spectacular, and the snow is sensational. In fact, the resort is known for its fluffy white snow. Receiving over 4.5 metres of snowfall each season, there is plenty of fresh powder to be found. They also have backup snow machines for the occasional dry spell, so the fun isn’t disturbed.
Across 1,720 acres with 3,000 vertical feet of terrain, Marmot Basin guarantees endless fun for both skiers and snowboarders. The ski hill offers seven lifts and 91 trails, which are split almost equally between expert, advanced, intermediate and beginner to cater to all levels. Plus, it has two terrain parks that feature a variety of boxes, rails, jibs and jumps ranging in small, medium and large.
Thanks to the lift capacity of 12,000 people per hour, you’ll rarely be standing in a lift line, and the inversions regularly experienced on the mountain mean that it’s not uncommon for it to be 10 degrees warmer on the slopes than down in town. Learn more here.
3. Look up. Seriously.
Alberta is home to the world’s largest dark sky preserves, specifically the Jasper National Park. This makes nighttime spectacular. Winter is even best for this activity because you can see how the starlight ‘bounces’ off the snow.
Jasper is home to the world’s largest astronomy park, Jasper Planetarium, making it perfect for avid stargazers. Delivering an exclusive dark sky experience, it allows you to enjoy year-round shows and telescope tours to spot auroras and constellations. It is out of this world, and a must-do activity.
The planetarium is based at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Guided tours take place in the heated dome theatre, then outside, you get a bird’s eye view of the night sky, through the most powerful telescopes in the Rockies.
You can even opt for a dinner and dark sky package with a delicious three-course meal at the Pines Restaurant, nestled on the shores of the picturesque Pyramid Lake.
4. Go dog-sledding with a difference.
Experience Canada’s oldest transportation route – with a difference. Opt in for a four-hour tour with Cold Fire Creek Dogsledding to discover a historic, 100-year-old trap line, and understand how the first trappers and prospectors of the area first explore the vast mountain wilderness.
You’ll not only get to have a dog-sledding adventure; you’ll also enjoy a homemade campfire lunch at a cozy log cabin.
5. Discover the bottom of a frozen canyon, or scale an ice waterfall.
Maligne Canyon is well-known as an incredible summer destination, but it’s well worth the visit for a winter adventure. Why? Two words – underwater caves.
A guided tour is essential, but you’ll be able to strap on your helmet and crampons to venture through the deepest canyon in the Rockies, seeing incredible waterfalls of ice and natural sculptures along the way. Our team can book you in for your Maligne Canyon tour. Contact us here.
If climbing is more your scene, it’s all possible in Jasper. The team at Rockaboo Mountain Adventures will ensure you can scale your way up the vertical wall of ice, ticking off a bucket list item you might’ve not even known you had.
6. Take a heli tour to a natural phenomenon.
Everyone knows heli-skiing is a great time – but what about taking a heli tour to a completely unique destination?
The team at Rockies Heli offers a full-day ‘Bubbles Heli Tour’ between December and March, taking you out to Abraham Lake to see the methane gas bubbles from plant life that have frozen at various depths under the lake surface.
You won’t want to forget the camera for this one, trust us.
7. Take a food tour.
All that adventure is bound to make you hungry. Enter: Jasper Food Tours. They’ve been touring people around local eateries for years, with hearty servings of food and stories along the way.
Choose from their Downtown Foodie Tour; their Ice walk and Foodie Tour package; or other options throughout the year, such as their Peak-Nic (a cooking adventure on a mountain) or Dinner in the Dark (a dark sky festival event). We can organise these tours, it is that easy.
Have we convinced you? Get booking your Jasper adventures with our team of experts. Click here to find out more and contact us for a free chat.