Five Jasper winter activities beyond the ski hill


Is your closest travel companion a diehard skier or snowboarder? Do you find yourself pining for a relaxed winter excursion in the mountains, while all your partner wants to do is shred?

It can be hard to align winter travel plans with obsessive skiers. I know because I'm obsessed with skiing, and one of my favourite places to do it is Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park. But having family and friends who are not always as keen as I am, I have a pretty good idea how the self-help ad for them would read (see above). 

Over the years, they have helped me take my ski blinders off from time to time and discover how many other great winter activities there are in Jasper.  

Five other winter activities in Jasper

Here are five suggestions for winter activities you should check out in Jasper beyond the ski hill, whether you're a diehard skier or the long-suffering companion of one. You'll both enjoy these.

1. Winter hiking & snowshoeing in the mountains
Winter hiking is a great, easy activity for those who aren't into skiing or snowboarding but still want to get into the mountains. 

Snowshoe Maligne Lake Jasper Alberta Jeremy Derksen
Photo: Jeremy Derksen
Slow the pace and take in the mountains with a winter hike or snowshoe in Jasper.

Throw on a pair of snowshoes if you want to get into some deeper snow, off trail. 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

Always be sure to check in with Parks before heading into the backcountry, stick to marked trails and public areas, and watch for trail signs marking hazards.

2. Go for an ice walk in Maligne Canyon, day or night. I've done the ice walk in Maligne several times, day and night, and it's beautiful any time of day. I almost enjoy it more at night, for the uniqueness of it.

Jasper Alberta Maligne Icewalk
Photo: Jeremy Derksen
Maligne Canyon in winter is a rare spectacle of ice.

A quick word of advice here: go with a guided tour. From thin ice or unstable ice conditions to icefall from climbers, there are hazards in the canyon which the untrained eye won't spot. 

Guides are familiar with the hazards and watch conditions to 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.

3. Fat bike around the Park. Fat biking is an activity you can calibrate to your ability level. The trails along the Pyramid bench and along Pyramid Lake are beautiful, gentle climbs along rolling hills with amazing views. You can rent in town at Vicious Cycle or right at Pyramid Lake Resort.

Fat biking by Pyramid Lake.

For another scenic, mostly flat ride, you can jump on trail 7/7a from the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and wind your way around the back of Lac Beauvert to Old Fort Point. 

(If you're feeling ambitious, add in a hike up to Old Fort Point for great views, but be sure to bring ice cleats for slippery sections. Bighorn sheep like to frequent this area too!)

4. Skate at Mildred Lake or Pyramid Lake
Gliding along a frozen lake with 360 mountain views is pretty unbeatable. Surfaces are cleared at both Mildred Lake (on the grounds of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge) and up at Pyramid Lake. Skate rentals are available on site, or bring your own.


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Both locations have cleared skating paths as well as cleared rinks for hockey. Be sure to consider ice safety whenever skating on mountain lakes or unmonitored ice surfaces—for tips on ice safety (and more cool places to skate), read this feature by Tyler Dixon.

5. Soak in the peace and quiet of Jasper's night skies. You've probably heard about Jasper's Dark Skies, but as a reminder, the best time to view them is when nights get dark earlier, from fall through winter.

BONUS TIP: après in town. Jasper is not just a ski town, it's a community full of local character. Rub elbows with friendly locals at the Whistle Stop, The De’d Dog or Jasper Brewing Co.

Diehard skier or not, Jasper is full of activities to get you out enjoying winter.

When you go

Jasper National Park is the largest of the Alberta Rocky Mountain Parks at 11,000 square km. Access to the park requires a park pass (free for youth, new Canadians and newcomers to Canada).

Lands and people  Jasper National Park is located in Treaty 6 and 8 as well as the traditional lands of the Anishinabe, Aseniwuche Winewak, Dene-zaa, Nêhiyawak, Secwépemc, Stoney Nakoda, Mountain Métis and Métis.

Getting there  Jasper is a 4-hour drive from Edmonton via Hwy AB-16, or kick back and let someone else take the wheel on a Sun Dog shuttle (the company also offers guided tours including the Maligne Icewalk and wildlife viewing).

More info  find more travel inspiration for your visit at Tourism Jasper.

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