Canada’s largest Rocky Mountain park may be spectacular in summer, but it’s absolutely magical in wintertime. Outdoor adventure awaits around every corner, and shorter days mean more time to marvel at the world’s second biggest Dark Sky Preserve. Stargazing and hot chocolate, anyone? Here are some key tips for experiencing Jasper with the kids this winter.
Make Every Day a Snow Day
Skiing at Marmot Basin is fun for the whole family with ski school options for different age groups. If your little ones don’t have their ski legs just yet, the hill also offers a nursery for children 19 months to six years old.
TIP: Go green: the Jasper-Marmot shuttle bus runs daily to several hotels in town.
Another must-do is an ice walk along the bottom of Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park’s deepest accessible canyon. Adults and kids alike will be enchanted by the soaring frozen waterfalls and their icy blue hues. Afterward, get everyone’s toes toasty again as you cozy up for a meal at Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen, a smokehouse and café complete with kids’ menu.
Break a sweat to beat the chill and go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The kid-friendly 3.6-km loop at Wabasso campground runs alongside the Athabasca river for a scenic ski, and features additional loops if you wish to add to your journey.
TIP: There are many rental shops in town if you don’t have your own gear.
Hit the ice on skates at Pyramid Lake or play pick-up hockey on Lake Mildred. On weekends, bring a thermos of hot chocolate and warm up by the fire. Pyramid Lake Resort also offers skate rentals for all ages.
Action aside, family time is also about slowing down and taking in the sights together. Hop on a sleigh ride at Pyramid Lake (free for kids under five) and cozy up under warm blankets as you marvel at the surrounding snow-capped mountain peaks.
Ideas for Indoor Fun
It’s no secret that the Canadian Rockies can get downright frosty in wintertime. Escape the cold and learn something new while you’re at it with a visit to the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum & Archvies or the Jasper Planetarium, home to the Rockies’ largest telescope. Or, indulge in pure entertainment while catching a flick at the Chaba Theatre (kids’ matinees play on occasional weekends).
Craving something sweet? Coco’s Café is beloved by locals and a must-visit for hot beverages and its famous breakfast wrap. Pizza is always a crowd pleaser, too—check out Famoso or the Jasper Pizza Place.
When the weather is frosty, there is nothing better than warming up in a hot tub or heated pool. The Jasper Activity Centre has two pools and a big hot tub & sauna, as do many of the great hotels in Jasper. Relax in the outdoor hot tub at Pyramid Lake Resort or Lobstick Lodge or enjoy fun in the indoor pool and hot tubs at Sawridge, The Crimson, Marmot Lodge or Chateau Jasper.
Festivals and Events
In December, kids and parents alike will be enchanted by sparkling Christmas lights during the Festival of Trees. On December 25, ski with Santa at Marmot Basin (parents will love the discounted lift tickets!).
Experience Jasper’s authentic mountain town spirit during Jasper in January, which has run for three weeks in January for the past 30 years and is a favourite of both visitors and locals. Kids will love the dogsledding, street party games and bannock and chili galore.
In mid-February all across Alberta, Family Day Weekend gives us a little more time to slow down and appreciate each other’s company. In Jasper, Parks Canada interpreters offer free guided snowshoeing—just one of many special experiences.
From the first sign of snow straight through the winter, Jasper is truly a family-friendly winter wonderland!