I have a confession to make – I really didn’t plan my Jasper Alberta trip well at all. I was so focused on food in the city I think I may have missed out on some really special things about Jasper in the winter.
But I really did enjoy it and want to go back in warm weather.
I felt like writing about the food and drink in town isn’t a compelling enough reason to go so I’m sharing a bit of a mini-guide gathering information from other bloggers who also visited in January or have had an Alberta road trip to provide the bigger picture of just how much you can do in this small town.
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A Winter Guide to Jasper Alberta
Jasper is located in 11,000 square km of the Jasper National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is a very relaxed, down-to-earth town where you don’t need to wear anything more formal than good jeans and a nice sweater.
And while most people visit in the summer for the amazing scenery and outdoor adventure, Jasper is active all year round, especially in its Jasper in January festival.
How to Get to Jasper
Jasper National Park is 370 km west of Edmonton and 404 kilometers northwest of Calgary.
You can easily drive here but if you’re flying it’s easiest to land in Edmonton and take the 4.5 hour shuttle into Jasper. It’s also possible to take the VIA Rail train from Edmonton into Jasper.
How to Get Around
The core area of Jasper or “downtown” is pretty small, only a few blocks and really easy to navigate.
Unless you are staying at Jasper Park Lodge you can easily walk into town in 5-10 minutes from a hotel. Cabs are available but after taking a few I felt ridiculously lazy.
Where to Stay: Jasper Accommodations
In a cluster with most of the other hotels in JasperAlberta, I stayed here and it’s just a short walk from downtown and there are hot tubs to warm up after cold days on the slopes.
The only resort in Jasper with exclusive access to the tranquil Pyramid Lake.
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
A bit farther outside town but looks like an incredible experience as it is a 700 acre resort and unlike other Fairmont hotels the rooms are in luxury cabins looking out onto Lac Beauvert.
Jasper Restaurants: Where to Eat and Drink
Jasper Brewing Company – They cater to the tastes of locals and their blueberry vanilla ale is so popular people drive up from Edmonton to buy it.
Typical pub food fare with some nice additions like the crispy duck leg salad.
Evil Dave’s Restaurant – Don’t be afraid, Evil Dave is no longer there but new owners are local, super friendly and serve up cool cocktails with their globally inspired menu.
They also serve boar – so that makes them awesome in my books.
Papa George’s Restaurant – This place has a lot of history and solid food to accompany it.
Papa George is no longer running it but owner and sommelier Patrice Fortin is keeping things current featuring a wine bar and wine by the glass from their wine cellar with over 1300 bottles.
Famoso Pizzeria – A small chain restaurant in Canada but a newcomer to Jasper run by locals, this restaurant serves up Neapolitan pizza.
Jasper Coffee: Where to Score Caffeine
One of the biggest surprises of Jasper Alberta was learning just how seriously the locals are about coffee.
However, I got the lowdown from a taxi driver and many others confirmed his perspective on coffee in Jasper.
Snow Dome Coffee Bar – This is where all the locals go but tourists likely walk by – because it’s in a laundromat.
But it’s known to serve up the best specialty coffee and lots of sweet treats.
Coco’s Cafe – Vegetarian/vegan and gluten-free friendly, you’re sure to find the yoga crowd here.
A friendly cafe with limited seating that strives to use as much local and organic product as possible.
Much like the rest of Jasper Alberta, the staff is friendly and super helpful.
Bear Paw Bakery – With a second shop around the corner called The Other Paw, this place is always busy and while the coffee is good it seems everyone comes for the baked goods.
Where to Shop in Jasper
Expect the typical souvenir, clothing and food shops in Jasper Alberta.
If you arrive realizing you’ve forgotten something you’ll be sure to find it here.
For the frugal traveler there is a dollar store with everything from phone chargers to inexpensive toques and mittens.
Cool Things to Do in Jasper Alberta
Ski or Snowboard – You can grab a shuttle from most hotels to Marmot Basin to hit the slopes.
Marmot Basin has been around for 50 years and offers lessons for beginner skiers or snowboarders.
Community Dinners – Offered only in Winter, each Sunday night a community organization hosts a PWYC dinner.
It is an inexpensive way for the community to come together. The Sunday I visited there was an Indian dinner.
This was extremely popular as there are no Indian food restaurants in Jasper.
Wine and Game Pairing – Papa George’s offers wild game and wine pairing every Friday night from 5-7pm.
Don’t let the name of the restaurant turn you off.
It’s been around for generations and has fantastically wild stories of Papa George who often single-handedly manned the restaurant without anyone knowing he was both the chef and the waiter!
Cools Things to Do in Jasper Outside Town
Star Gaze – Just 20km outside of town is the perfect place to stare at the open sky.
Jasper National Park is the second largest dark sky preserve in the world.
Here a guide will show you things you can’t see in most cities including constellations, planets and the closest star to the Earth,
Dog Sledding – While it is not permitted in the park it’s a beautiful drive through the Rocky Mountains.
There are options for one-hour, three-hour and four-hour tours through the frozen wilderness.
Canyon Ice Walk – It’s technically a gorge. But the Devonian limestone bedrock in Maligne Canyon is up to 55 m deep and 1.2 km long.
A winter wonderland, just outside the town guides lead you through the frozen Maligne Canyon natural ice sculptures, ice caves, fossils and beautiful frozen waterfalls trapped in the Canadian cold.
Maligne Canyon Ice Walk at Night – A completely different but incredible experience at night. Don’t be afraid if you’re unadventurous,
Winter Wildlife Safari – Despite the cold temperatures, wildlife thrives in the winter and it’s even common to see elk or deer in town. If you love to photograph or simply look for wildlife Sundog Tours offers tours of the park. While there is no guarantee, it’s common to see big horn sheep, elk, and coyotes.