Jasper National Park is one of Canada’s most beautiful places to visit. Like its southern sister, Banff, there are many things to do in Jasper in the winter.
If you love the snow, cold, and mountains, you’ll absolutely love Jasper National Park in the winter. From wild ice skating on one of the beautiful lakes to skiing at Marmot Basin, there are plenty of winter activities in Jasper for everyone to enjoy!
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- All You Need to Know to Drive From Jasper to Banff
- Jasper vs Banff • Which Beautiful Park Should You Visit?
- Our Top Tips for Driving the Icefields Parkway
Best Things to do in Jasper in the Winter
No matter when you go, you’ll be impressed by the falls, which drop over 60 feet. Of the two falls, the upper one is the more easily accessible of the two.
It’s best to stop here while driving from Banff to Jasper or vice versa, as it’s along the beautiful Icefields Parkway.
Explore Maligne Canyon
Maligne Canyon is another one of the things to do in Jasper that will keep you occupied and fulfilled, especially in Jasper in the winter. Carved slowly out of limestone over the years by the rushing waters within, the deep canyon walls reach nearly 200 feet in places, making it one of the most dramatic sights in Jasper National Park.
During the summer, you’ll be able to see the canyon from above as the water roars through it, but in the winter, it freezes solid and provides recreation for brave ice climbers.
There are guided tours of the area’s frozen waterfalls and ice caves too. It’s one of the best things you can do in Jasper in the winter!
A great thing to do in Jasper in the winter is to check out Athabasca Falls. Located about 30 km south of Jasper town – with a drop of about 75 feet – Athabasca Falls isn’t a giant by Alberta waterfall standards, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t dramatic and majestic in its own right, especially between the months of November and April.
The volume of water that rushes over the edge is very high, making the sight in the winter extra magical as the cascading water turns to ice.
Make sure to check out Lower Athabasca Falls too, which many people miss. There are ample hiking trails to get you to viewing areas, allowing you to ogle the river and falls in all its glory. Don’t try to get closer to take a good picture, as many people do. A fall could result in severe injury or worse.
Drive Maligne Road
Driving Maligne Lake Road is one of my favorite things to do in Jasper in the winter. It’s one of the most beautiful drives in the Canadian Rockies and will have you saying wow at every turn. Along this road are plenty of stop-offs, including Medicine Lake and, of course, Maligne Lake.
The area around the road is also home to plenty of wildlife, and your chances of spotting a moose or bighorn sheep are pretty great, especially in the winter when there aren’t as many cars on the road disturbing the wildlife. We saw four moose in just one hour on the road!
Medicine Lake is a fantastic thing to see in Jasper, especially in the winter. This tremendous lake is located about 20 km southeast of the town of Jasper and a great stop on your way to Maligne Lake.
Though technically part of the Maligne River, it looks like a lake to the untrained eye, significantly when it swells with water from the big thaw, which takes place in late spring and summer. And if you visit Jasper in the summer, you wouldn’t know that in the winter, it disappears.
In fact, Medicine Lake is actually called the “disappearing lake” as the water drains out through sinkholes in the bottom, traveling through a cave system and resurfacing downstream. We couldn’t believe it when we saw it either, but it’s truly a unique phenomenon!
Check Out Maligne Lake
Maligne Lake is a glacial lake just a 45-minute drive from the town of Jasper. It is one of the most serene lakes in all of the Canadian Rockies and is prized for its astounding natural splendor. It’s well worth a visit for anyone visiting the Canadian Rockies and is a must-stop if you’re in Jasper for a few days.
In the summer, you can canoe, paddleboard, kayak, or even take a motorboat out on it, but in the winter, it’s a winter wonderland to behold. When the lake is completely frozen through, you can even snowshoe on it!
Keep in mind that while in the summer there are facilities at the lake, and even a few restaurants, in the winter you are on your own so plan accordingly.
Ski at Marmot Basin
One of the best things to do in Jasper in the winter is ski at Marmot Basin! Marmot Basin is an alpine ski area less than 30 minutes drive away from Jasper. With 91 named runs on four mountain faces and 3,000 vertical feet of drop, it’s definitely one of the best ski resorts in all of Western Canada!
If you get lucky and hit Marmot Basin on a powder day mid-week, it may become your favorite ski resort! The views are also to die for from the top of the chairlifts. Keep an eye out for Pyramid Mountain, which can be seen on a clear day!
Pyramid Lake and Island
Heading to Pyramid Lake is another fantastic thing to do in Jasper in the winter. Pyramid Lake is close to the town of Jasper and is a great Jasper lake to enjoy. In the winter, it’s one of the best lakes to ice skate and snowshoe on. And during the holidays, the Pyramid Lake Lodge runs magical sleigh rides around it.
Don’t miss Pyramid Island either; it’s a small island with a bridge to it that some people don’t even know is there. Try and catch it at sunrise or sunset for a wicked view.
Snowshoe on Lake Patricia
Yes, another lake on this list of things to do in Jasper in the winter! Patricia Lake is a local favorite and is one literally right next to Pyramid Lake. Come here to enjoy the backdrop of Pyramid Mountain, go for an ice skate, or enjoy the fire pits around the lake.
One of the perfect things to do in Jasper in the winter is to build a fire at the pits and enjoy a hot chocolate that you brought with you.
Enjoy Downtown Jasper
Honestly, one of my favorite things to do in Jasper in the winter is just walk around town. The town of Jasper is charming and small, even smaller than nearby Banff (and much more quiet).
There are plenty of restaurants, shops, and coffee shops to venture in and out of. I love the vibe of the town during all seasons. Even in the middle of summer, you won’t find the crowds that you find here in Banff or even Canmore. It’s a lovely recluse from the crowds while maintaining that mountain town charm.
Go on a Jasper Food Tour
In the winter, one of the best things to do in Jasper is cozy up at one of the many restaurants and bars in town. Of course, you could venture into them all independently, but I recommend joining Estelle with Jasper Food Tours instead.
You’ll have a much more local experience, complete with a walking history tour of Jasper as well.
I love doing food tours as you can get a sampling of many different Jasper restaurants in just a few short hours instead of having dinner at just one. The samplings with Jasper Food Tours are all paired with beer, wine, or a cocktail to make it even more fun. Come hungry – there is a lot of food on this one!
Take a Helicopter Flight With Rockies Heli
One of the best things you can do in the Canadian Rockies in both the winter and summer is enjoy a helicopter ride over the majestic mountains. Rockies Heli operates in David Thompson Country, right next to Abraham Lake, 30 km off the Icefields Parkway.
We enjoyed a fantastic tour getting a birds-eye view of glaciers, rivers, lakes, canyons, and even waterfalls before landing on top of a mountain and snowshoeing to the top to enjoy hot cocoa.
If you’ve never taken a heli tour in the mountains, let me tell you it’s truly a unique experience, and you get views never before seen. We scramble to the top of mountain summits quite often, and the views from a helicopter can’t even compare. Rockies Heli offers many different tours that can fit within many budgets, take a look at here.
Skate on Abraham Lake
No, Abraham Lake is not in Jasper National Park, but it’s not far from it in David Thompson Country – close to Nordegg. It’s one of the most famous spots in all of Canada to see the renowned methane ice bubbles, so it definitely deserves to be mentioned here as it’s a great stop off as you drive the Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff. If you have ever wanted to skate on ice bubbles, head here around January.
Large white bubbles are created in lakes when water-dwelling bacteria feed on decaying organic matter, expelling methane gas. When the water freezes, the methane bubbles get trapped in the ice and create these fantastic phenomena.
This area is exceptionally windy, meaning the snow doesn’t cover the ice like all the other bodies of water on this list. So there’s typically a huge window of time to skate on the ice bubbles here.
Pursuit Adventures also runs ice bubble tours for those that want to learn more in the safety of a tour!
Play Ice Hockey on a Frozen Lake
It wouldn’t be a Canadian Rockies winter without a bit of ice skating and hockey. I would highly recommend renting a pair of skates and enjoying the beautiful wild ice setting.
The best lakes to skate on in Jasper are Pyramid Lake and Patricia Lake. It’s best to wait until December to ensure the ice is frozen over enough to skate on. Ice should be at least 4 inches thick and can be measured with an ice screw.
You can rent ice skates in town at Source for Sports!
Have a Beer at Jasper Brewing Company
Hands down, our favorite place to eat when in Jasper is the Jasper Brewing Company. Jasper Brewing Company was the first National Park Brewery in Canada. It opened in 2005, and after they are responsible for opening Banff Ave Brewing in Downtown Banff.
Three of the founders were born and raised Jasper locals and created the brewery space in Jasper as a great community hub. Their beers are delicious, but I love their food! Everything here has been delicious. I highly recommend trying their Halloumi Bowl!
Due to its remoteness and overall lack of development, Jasper boasts impressive views of the stars, galaxies, and constellations that are often difficult to see in more urban areas.
If you’re an amateur stargazer or just prefer comfortable reclining seats to craning your neck or laying on the cold ground, then the Jasper Planetarium is one of the best things to do in Jasper in the winter that you won’t want to miss.
Located in Jasper National Park at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, the planetarium’s trained guides will lead you on a virtual tour of the galaxy and explain a few of those mysteries of modern science, like the aurora borealis – or northern lights.
Boasting one of the largest telescopes in North America, after the planetarium show, you’ll get to peer through its massive lenses and gaze into impossibly distant worlds.
Soak in the Heated Pool at Jasper Park Lodge
The Jasper Park Lodge is the most famous place to stay in Jasper. Their grounds are immaculate, and they are located right on Lac Beauvert – far away from any crowds downtown.
The Jasper Park Lodge has a gorgeous heated pool, which is a godsend in the winter in Jasper. It’s worth booking a stay here in one of their cabins just to use these awesome facilities.
Skate on Lake Mildred
Lake Mildred is located on the Jasper Park Lodge grounds and is a maintained ice rink. In the winter it’s a popular spot for families to head for safe and enjoyable ice skating! You can rent ice skates directly at the Fairmont Winter Rental Shop.
Ice Climb at Tangle Falls
Rockaboo Mountain Adventures offers beginners with no experience the opportunity to ice climb in the winter. This fun, safe, thrilling adventure is great for anyone 12 and up. Ice climbing sites are either Tangle Falls, Edge of the World, or Maligne Canyon.
This six-hour tour is great for those that have been around town for a few days in Jasper and looking for something unique to do in this winter mountain wonderland.
Spend Christmas in Jasper
Like Christmas in Banff, spending Christmas in Jasper may remind you of a Hallmark movie. It’s snowy, it’s surrounded by mountains, and you’ll definitely need to wear that cozy scarf and knitted hat.
Jasper around the holidays is absolutely magical and a great place to celebrate. Driving through the “Home for the Holidays’ gates of Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is a great thing to do, as well as skiing on Christmas Day at Marmot Basin, or enjoying a Christmas sleigh ride around Pyramid Lake.
Go on a Wildlife Tour
SunDog Tours runs fun morning winter wildlife tours that will take you through the park searching for some of the Rockies’ most majestic animals. The knowledgeable guides will take visitors to striking landscapes while teaching about the history and ecology of the area.
Winter is an incredible time of year in Jasper to see wolves, moose, foxes, and coyotes. Bring a camera and cross your fingers for some incredible sightings.
Eat a Beavertail
A Beavertail is a doughy sugary pastry topped with fun treats like Reese’s pieces, banana, Nutella, or maple syrup and sprinkles. Beavertail shops aren’t everywhere in Canada, but they are in the small Canadian Mountain towns, and lucky fo you there is one right on Patricia Street in Jasper. Nothing tastes better at the end of a cold day than getting one downtown!
Should You Visit Jasper in the Winter?
Don’t get me wrong, I love Jasper in the summer. However Jasper in the winter is a totally different vibe. It’s quieter than Banff, and although it has less going on than its southern counterpart in terms of activities, it’s still a beautiful spot in the world.
If you are looking for fewer crowds and a unique experience in a small Alberta mountain town, it’s worth it to head to Jasper in the winter. Whether taking a quick trip from Edmonton or adding a few days to your Banff itinerary, and driving the Icefields Parkway, you will enjoy this little slice of winter magic.
Where to Stay in Jasper in Winter
Pyramid Lake Resort is an amazing hotel in Jasper that cannot be beaten. Sitting right on Pyramid Lake, its location in the park is impressive. Away from Downtown Jasper, so you can enjoy nature, but still only a few minutes drive away so you can easily enjoy town amenities.
These are chalet-style Alpine rooms with 62 guest rooms in total, and all come with a cozy fireplace. I highly suggest booking a room with views over Pyramid Lake if possible. There’s a fantastic hot tub as well to enjoy after a long winter day out in the mountains. The resort is just 6 km from the townsite, but obviously right next to Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Island.
- Address — 6 Km North On, Pyramid Lake Rd (GPS)
The Best Places to Eat in Jasper
For Breakfast in Jasper, Try These Restaurants:
- Coco’s Cafe: They’ve got all of the classics of a relaxed cafe such as bagels, oatmeal cinnamon waffles, breakfast burritos, breakfast bowls, and huevos rancheros.
- Harvest: Harvest Food & Drink serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. It’s one of the newer restaurants in Jasper with a healthy menu.
- Bear’s Paw Bakery: Bear’s Paw Bakery is an institution in Jasper and just about every visitor to Jasper should pay the bakery a visit in the morning.
- Sunhouse Cafe: The bright and airy cafe with modern decor serves some mouth-watering coffee and food.
For Dinner in Jasper, Try These Restaurants:
- Jasper Brewing Company: As mentioned before they have fantastic craft beers and dinners that pair well with those beers.
- Downstream: A downstairs bar with varying sandwiches, steaks, and chicken meals on the menu.
- The Raven: A small and intimate bistro perfect for special dinners from around the world.
- The Dead Dog: Fun and quirky bar and a locals favorite bar.
Hopefully, this helped you determine what to do in Jasper in the winter.
If you have any other questions leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, and everything else.
Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
- Hiking in the Rockies: Purchase an AllTrails subscription to have a mobile map on you as you hike.
- Hotels in the Rockies: There are many places to stay, from luxury hotels to wilderness cabins. See all our favorites here.
- Pack for the Rockies: See our complete Alberta packing list here.
- Get Around: We suggest either renting a car to get around, you can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip with companies like Outdoorsy.
- Fly For Free: Turn your spending into airline miles and points with travel credit cards (that’s what we do!). See our favorite travel credit cards. We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. We recommend checking out HeyMondo, which offers competitive rates for all travelers.