Just when the temps have dropped into the negative teens in Chicago (that’s -14F or -26C before factoring in windchill), I decide to travel north and spend part of winter in Jasper. What?? Oh, Canada…I’m coming back. In January? Yep. Time to ski Marmot Basin.
Winter in Jasper
I’ve visited our ‘neighbors to the north’ every year now for the last several years and what’s not to like? Toronto feels like Chicago in many ways. Montreal is one of my favorite cities in the world. I love the quaint charm of Nova Scotia and really want to get back there. Vancouver has a stunning backdrop of mountains and sea. A couple years ago I was in Edmonton, Alberta in the summer, but now I’m going back for some of this:
Skiing in Jasper – The 50th Anniversary of Ski Marmot Basin
Marmot Basin, in Jasper, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. They throw a big party each winter called the Jasper in January Festival with snow sculpting, skating, a winter pentathlon, live music, wine tastings, and even a polar bear dip (that I did NOT participate in)!
I’m sure you’ve heard of Whistler and Banff, but if you haven’t heard of Marmot Basin yet, I’ll be sharing lots of goodies with you! Renowned as one of the least crowded ski areas of its kind in North America, Marmot Basin will be taking its celebrations and anniversary events to the slopes, remembering the last fifty years of mountain magic.
The city of Jasper has always retained its unpretentious and authentic feel as a former railway town that just happens to be set smack in the middle of some of the world’s most gorgeous protected wilderness. This is no fabricated ski town.
There are tons of outdoor things to do, all year. In summer, it’s a fantastic time to go hiking in Jasper National Park.
“Jasper is a true winter outdoors playground, and as the incredibly popular ‘Jasper in January’ Festival marks its 25th year, it’s the perfect time to showcase the multitude of winter events and activities on offer,” said Leigh Abra, of Tourism Jasper.
Here are some things to do in winter in Jasper (and some things I did and saw!):
#1 – Downhill Skiing
Skiing here is serene and free of lines, which is just my speed (wish me luck! It’s been 8-10 years since I skied!). The breathtaking views and 1675 acres of terrain, seemingly all to yourself, makes it among the best ski areas in the Canadian Rockies.
#2 – Maligne Canyon Ice walk
Do the Maligne Canyon Ice Walk and you can walk along the frozen floor of the canyon and marvel at the ice caves and 50-meter limestone walls surrounding you.
#3 – Jasper in January Festival
Spread over 2 weeks, Jasper in January is a big party with bands, beer, a chili cook-off and all kinds of other fun activities.
#4 – 5 Billion Stars
Besides the beautiful mountain scenery and laid-back atmosphere, something else I’m really looking forward to is the night sky. I LOVE stargazing and have been fortunate in a few places in the world to avoid the light pollution that I am so used to now. This is one thing that still does put me in awe! Few places in the world can offer the views of constellations, planets, and shooting stars presented by the night canopy in Jasper National Park, the world’s largest official Dark Sky Preserve at 7000 square miles. Maybe I will be able to see the northern lights for the first time?
#5 – The World’s Most Scenic Highway
Renowned as one of the most scenic highways in the world, the Icefields Parkway is a destination in itself. Starting right in Jasper, the Icefields Parkway stretches more than 150 miles of stunning landscapes and snow-capped mountain peaks and is home to the Columbia Icefield, one of the largest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Arctic Circle.
#6 – Dogsledding
I was lucky enough to do this once in the backwoods of Aspen and am excited to now do some dogsledding in Jasper. It’s pretty cool to snuggle up in the blankets in the back of a sled pulled buy some pretty amazing pups while soaking up the incredible scenery. Hot cocoa is a must afterwards.
#7 – L’après-ski
From a local brewpub, to some inventive local cuisine, of course I’ll be doing some après ski…one of the best parts of a cold-vacation!
Speaking of cold, did I mention that Jasper is situated in a region that’s considered a subarctic climate? Oy. It’s characterized by long, usually very cold winters, and short, cool to mild summers. Somehow, I still think it might be more comfortable than Chicago.
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Disclosure: During my time in Jasper, I was a guest of Tourism Jasper. As always, all opinions are my own.