Canada Winter Vacation: What To Do In Jasper National Park When You Only Have 48 Hours

We’ve all seen pictures of the Canadian Rockies: its mesmerizing landscapes and fascinating wildlife have been made famous, thanks to social media. Whether you’re just there for the photos or to reconnect with nature, it is undeniable that the Rockies is one of the best places to vacation in Canada.

Most people opt to visit Banff and Jasper in the summer, but don’t know that winter is just as breathtaking! Instead of hibernating this winter, we set out on a weekend road trip to see what winter activities Jasper has to offer.

Read on to find out what to do in Jasper in winter over a weekend. We hope, by the end of it, you are convinced why winter is the best time to visit Jasper National Park, and are ready to explore Jasper on your next winter vacation to Canada!

Winter in Jasper National Park Pyramid Island

Getting To Jasper

First off, let’s get the logistics out of the way.

Most visitors include Jasper as part of a larger trip and will typically drive from Calgary, stopping in Banff and Lake Louise along the way.

Another option is to drive from Edmonton, straight to Jasper. This route cuts down the drive time by one hour, but is a lot less scenic.

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The Calgary to Jasper Drive

The distance from Calgary to Jasper is 413 km. Normal driving time from Calgary to Jasper is about 5 hours, without any stops. Road conditions vary in the winter so we’d suggest factoring in an extra hour. Don’t forget, winter tires are essential for safe driving!

You can easily break down the 5-hour drive into smaller segments and extending it into a multi-day trip.

Road trip to Jasper in the winter

We usually divide the route into two parts:

1) a 90-min Calgary to Banff drive, where you can see the landscape transition from the flatlands to the mountains.

2) a 3.5-hr Banff to Jasper drive. Named one of the most beautiful drives in the world, the Banff to Jasper highway (aka Icefield Parkway) winds through ancient glaciers, cascading waterfalls and turquoise (or frozen) lakes. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep and bears as you travel through the 230-km mountain road.

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Day 1 Afternoon
Arriving at Pyramid Lake Resort

After a long drive, check in at Pyramid Lake Resort, located 6 km from the Jasper townsite.

Unlike other Jasper hotels, this resort houses chalet-style rooms, all boast a fireplace and mountain views. It is also the only accommodation in Jasper National Park with exclusive access to Pyramid Lake. A perfect place to escape from the hectic pace of life and soak in natural beauty.

Best hotel in Jasper Pyramid Lake Resort
Pyramid Lake Resort

Aside from the seclusion and peacefulness of this place, Kev and I appreciated the recent renovation done to the rooms, giving them a cleaner and newer look!

Best of all, the property has an outdoor hot tub to ease away any stress you may have. If that doesn’t make it the best hotel in Jasper, then we don’t know what would!

Day 1 Evening
Dinner at The Pines Restaurant

Treat your taste buds to a sumptuous dinner at the onsite restaurant, The Pines. Their wild game-inspired fare features locally-sourced ingredients to give you a taste of the mountains.

Our favourites include the local charcuterie that comes with venison sausage, smoked duck breast, air-dried beef, roasted duck breast with saskatoon berry sauce, and venison loin with juniper jus. Do note, the menu changes seasonally so we can’t guarantee they will be there when you visit Jasper!

best restaurant in Jasper the pines restaurant
Charcuterie from the Pines Restaurant
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Day 2 Morning
Winter Fun at Pyramid Lake

Grab your winter coat, mittens, hats and snow boots for some outdoor fun at Pyramid Lake, right outside your doorstep!

From snowshoeing to skating to fat biking, there is plenty of fun activities in Jasper National Park to keep you entertained. Pyramid Lake Resort has snowshoes and bike rentals available for you to take advantage of these Jasper winter activities. If the condition permits, you can even sign up for a sleigh ride on the lake!

A few trails are located nearby:

⇢ The shortest and easier trail to take is the 1-km pathway from the resort to Pyramid Island. Secluded and unspoiled, with the majestic Pyramid Mountain in the backdrop, Pyramid Island not only is one of the most popular attractions in Jasper National Park, but also a highly sought-after wedding destination.

⇢ For something more challenging, consider the 5.3-km Overlook Loop. The trail takes you high above Jasper town and provides one of the best views in the area.

Pyramid Island Jasper attractions
Pyramid Island / Photo Credit: Sherri King

Day 2 Afternoon
Maligne Canyon Icewalk

Have a quick bite and get ready for Maligne Canyon ice walk, one of the top things to do in Jasper in the winter!

This signature winter experience is your chance to walk on the frozen canyon floor and to get up close to the frozen waterfalls, ice caves, and fascinating natural ice sculptures.

Maligne Canyon Winter Hike Jasper
Maligne Canyon in the winter
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It is totally fine to do the Maligne Canyon winter hike on your own, but for the best experience, we recommend going with a guide who is knowledgeable about the geology and history of the Maligne Valley. 

Our Maligne Canyon Icewalk tour with Pursuit was a memorable one. Transportation and gears (including boots, cleats, and helmets) were provided – no fuss. Plus, we got to check out picture-perfect lookout points and the secret entrance to the underground cave system, thanks to the guide!!

Maligne Canyon Tours Jasper Winter
Maligne Canyon icewalk
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This Jasper winter hike left us absolutely speechless at the vastness and beauty of the canyon. Hands down one of the best hikes in Jasper National Park to do in the wintertime!

Pursuit’s Maligne Canyon Icewalk tour runs 3 times a day – at 9 am, 1 pm, and 6 pm, and lasts about 3 hours. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Day 2 Evening
Dinner at Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen

Cap off the eventful day with a hearty meal at Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen. The rustic, modern eatery serves the best food in Jasper with a menu loaded with mouthwatering smokehouse inspired food.

All meat, includes slow-cooked brisket, chicken, and venison sausage, is smoked with hickory wood and locally sourced from the region. To enhance the dining experience, pair the smoked food with their uniquely Canadian cocktails, and perhaps even catch live music (on Saturday evenings)!

Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen Smoked Meat
Dinner at Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen

Food, drinks and ambiance are what make Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen one of the best restaurants in Jasper, Alberta, and we promise it will live up to the promise!

Day 2 Overnight
The Crimson Hotel

For those who want to stay close to town, this is the best place to stay in Jasper National Park.

The Crimson Hotel is a relatively new hotel with a modern and thoughtful aesthetic that pays tribute to Canadian culture. Its convenient location to the shopping and dining district makes it a perfect base to explore Jasper.

Day 3 Morning
Breakfast at Walter’s Dining Room

Fuel up the tummy at Walter’s Dining Room located inside Sawridge Inn. Reportedly one of the best places to eat breakfast in Jasper, the restaurant serves a wealth of a la carte dishes (including our favourite: eggs benedict) to get you going. Just as amazing is its space, beautifully designed to preserve First Nation heritage and culture.

best place to eat in Jasper National Park
Eggs benedit from Walter’s Dining Room
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Get a sense of the town before you leave. The town is much smaller than Banff, with only two main streets (Patricia Street and Connaught Drive), and can be explored in about half an hour. Check out boutiques and shops for locally made Canadian gifts to bring back home!

Spending More Time In Jasper?

Looking to do more sightseeing and hit up more attractions in Jasper National Park? Here are some other fun winter activities in Jasper worth exploring:

See the northern lights: Jasper is the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world. So in Jasper, you have a pretty high chance of catching a spectacular natural light show on a dark, moonless night.

Wildlife discovery tour: Yes, you can do this in the winter! Although it is unlikely to see bears in Jasper during this time of the year, it is almost guaranteed you’ll catch a glimpse of the deer, elk, mountain goats, or bighorn sheep!

Dogsledding: How awesome would it be to feel the thrill of dogsledding in Jasper across a frozen wonderland? Sit back, relax, and enjoy the snow-covered landscape, or mush your own team of huskies – either way, you’ll have a blast.

Pyramid Island in winter in Jasper
Photo Credit: Sherri King

Now, you’ll never have to wonder what to do in Jasper in winter! Ready to plan your epic road trip to Jasper?!

Enjoy this post? Save THIS PIN on your Winter Travel board on Pinterest so you can come back later to plan your Jasper trip!

Disclaimer: We were hosted by Pursuit. As always, all opinions on For Two, Please are our own and we only recommend brands that we 100% stand behind.

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9 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. I loved to hear about the Maligne Canyon Icewalk. I like walking in nature very much so your suggestions are very welcome. Also the food look so appealing. I get hungry right away.

  2. We often do not think of visiting Jasper in the winter.  But I agree it does look like a winter wonderland.  It is a good idea to break the drive in Banff as Banff is a great destination too.  I would love a spot in Jasper that offered a fireplace and mountain view.  A great thing to enjoy after the outdoor activities.  A sleigh ride on the lake sound perfect!  And it would  be awesome to catch the Northern Lights.  I really need to stop being a wimp about winter travel.

  3. Banff is one of our favorite parks in Canada! We haven’t been during the winter, and certainly not to Jasper, but we will soon have to change that. We haven’t done the drive between Banff and Jasper, which sounds incredible! Dog sledding sounds like fun too! 

  4. We would probably take this route to Jasper driving in from Calgary and stopping in Banff and Lake Louise on the way.The more I am reading about Canada in the winters the more I am inclined to do so. Normally we longer trips in summers. Maligne Canyon spot looks beautiful and so is the food.

  5. We have never been to Jasper National Park. I had no idea that the drive from Banff to Jasper was named one of the world’s most beautiful drives. The wildlife and northern lights would be amazing to see. I hope to visit Jasper National Park this year. So beautiful and the food looks amazing. SAving this itinerary for later!

  6. I can well imagine how Pyramid island might be during a wedding. It does seem quite scenic and gorgeous. The frozen waterfalls and ice caves must have been so adventurous and really gorgeous. And you mention so many adventure activities….. Sounds like Jasper national park is the destination for winters .

  7. Wow! This is such an amazing view. It is indeed mesmerizing. We had never visited Jasper during winter so, I am quite surprised to see this wonderful landscape. Will definitely consider this during our next winter trip. Thank you for sharing these tips and ideas on what to do. Keeping this for future reference.

  8. I always thought going to Jasper National Park in winter is not a good idea and it is only for summer. But your post proved me wrong and I loved reading it as it has so many things to do in winter too. Your Maligne Canyon Icewalk tour with Pursuit really looks worth doing. Good to know that transportation and all snow gears were provided to you.

  9. Great post!! I have never been to Jasper national park yet but it sure seems like a great spot for winter vacation. The food looked amazing. I love the view for Maligne Canyon Icewalk and it looks like a great trail.

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