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With dense forests, frozen lakes, and the snow-smeared peaks of the Rocky Mountains, Jasper is an obvious choice for winter wilderness adventures. Even better, visitor numbers are low during winter, meaning you can experience the unspoiled landscape at its most peaceful. Here are your options for winter activities in Jasper.
Even in the depths of winter, the hardier animal inhabitants of Jasper National Park—including elk, bighorn sheep, and deer—still roam the mountain slopes of Athabasca River Valley. For the best wildlife-spotting ops, go as part of a wildlife tour with an expert who can lead you to where the critters are most likely to be.
Maligne Canyon Ice Walk
During summer, water from the Maligne River gushes through this steep canyon, forming waterfalls as it falls over ledges along the way. In winter, the canyon is more dramatic than ever, with the frozen falls looking as if they’ve been paused mid-flow. While adventurous types can climb up the frozen waterfalls with crampons and ice picks, more cautious visitors can don anti-slip cleats and embark on an ice walk through the canyon itself.
Jasper National Park is a winter sports playground, with snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails found throughout the park in locations such as Maligne Lake and Pyramid Bench. Fat biking trails can be found around Cabin Lake and near Jasper Park Lodge; the Marmot Basin resort caters to downhill skiers and snowboarders; and ice skaters can slide around the frozen surface of Lac Beauvert, Lake Mildred, and Pyramid Lake—just make sure the ice is at least six inches (15 centimeters) thick before skating, as Parks Canada does not monitor the ice thickness.
For a novel way to experience the winter landscapes, try dog sledding. Cozily ensconced on a sled behind a team of adorable Alaskan huskies, you’ll not only enjoy the view as a passenger, but will also learn to drive the team. Dog sledding in the Canadian Rockies is permitted only outside the national parks’ boundaries.
2 Jasper Winter Sports
Nature and Wildlife
Calling all outdoor adventurers, this hiking tour takes you deep into Maligne Canyon, one of the deepest river canyons in the Canadian Rockies. On a mostly downhill route, encounter frozen waterfalls, ice caves, and discover the mystery of the disappearing Medicine Lake. All necessary equipment and hotel pickup in Jasper are included on this small-group tour, limited to 12 people.
The Maligne Canyon offers some of the best ice-climbing conditions in Jasper—but this extreme sport requires lots of practise and specialist equipment. On this beginner-friendly tour, try your hand at ice-climbing under the watchful guidance of your trained instructor. With all technical gear included, climb the ice to the top of a frozen waterfall and reach corners of the Maligne Canyon inaccessible to most park visitors.