10 Ways to spring into winter in Jasper
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Jasper, AB - Bluebird skies, glistening snow and majestic mountains are just about the best mental health combo in the world, in my books. And there’s few places like Jasper National Park to get that late winter recharge to boost you into spring. With longer days up in the northern part of Alberta, and milder temperatures, you can have longer adventure days without the need for warmups.
Of course, number one atop my list of winter activities is skiing at Marmot Basin. But I’m biased. Fifteen years as a volunteer ski patroller with the Canadian Ski Patrol, and just as many in the media writing about it, will do that. It’s a second home to me and I know just how to customize my trips to Jasper to make the best of any season.
But rather than keep it to myself, I’ve realized that I need to share my powers for good. So here’s my suggestions for making the most of a Jasper weekend away.
1. SUNSCREEN is #1. The glare off the snow, at high altitude, means lots of sun in your face. Goggle tans are cool, but burns are not (on the contrary, they burn!).
2. Be aware of melt-freeze cycles. If it melted all day and then froze, start out cautious and be prepared for unpredictable cookies and ridges until it softens up again.
3. Ski hard from 10 - 2 (or 11 - 3). Once the snow softens, usually around 10 or 11am on a nice spring day, the best shredding begins on loose corn that continues to break down throughout the day. Rip as long as you can and then…
4. Hike 5 - 10 min for a view. The spring views across the Park are something else. A five-minute hike from the lifts will get you to some pretty cool spots to get up high and soak in the beauty of the day you just had.
Other Jasper winter activities
5. Take ice cleats or snowshoes to hike the trails
Some of my easy access faves are Maligne Canyon, Pyramid Lake and Athabasca Falls. For a great list of trail recommendations and safety tips, check out this info from Parks. Remember some critters, including big ones, may be sleeping lightly or beginning to stir. Stick to marked trails and public areas, and watch for signs.
Let them know you’re coming by talking and making noise, especially around blind corners. It’s early season but you don’t want to startle a freshly woken, grumpy bear. Please pack in what you pack out. If you’ve ever seen the trails after snow melts, it’s sad how garbage will wind up in such pristine places.
6. Enjoy a guided ice walk, day or night. How many times have I watched people put themselves at serious risk in icy canyons? Seriously, don’t go by yourself; join a guided tour. In spring, guides watch conditions and monitor for safety; if they’re not there, you shouldn’t be either. If you do go without a guide, PLEASE keep your distance from climbers (occasionally large flying ice chunks come away from the walls, especially in spring. Keep your head on.)
7. Rent a fat bike and explore the Park. The trails along the Pyramid bench and along Pyramid Lake are beautiful, gentle climbs and dips with amazing views. You can rent in town at Vicious Cycle or right at Pyramid Lake Resort.
Jasper après ideas
8. Take an off day to head up the Tramway. Jasper Tramway opens Mar 25. For non-skiers, or off ski days the Tram is an easy way to score great views. Wear boots so you don’t posthole in sneakers. You can also rent snowshoes for exploring up to Whistlers peak.
9. Enjoy fun, fire and food at Pyramid Lake. If you are done with activity but not with outdoors, an outing with Wild Current Outfitters will deliver a top notch outdoor apres experience.
10. Après in town. Jasper is a real community, not a ski village, so it is full of local character. Rub elbows with town’s friendly locals at the Whistle Stop, The De’d Dog or Jasper Brewing Co. Live it, love it.
PLUS 1 more: bonus tip - you've probably heard about Jasper's Dark Skies, but as a reminder, the best time to view them is when skies are dark earlier and longer. Warmer evenings in later winter are a great time for some night sky viewing.
Jasper in spring is an experience like very few out there. Try these 10 suggestions to get your winter recharge and soak in the early spring sun in the mountains.