The best time of year to visit Jasper National Park generally depends on the type of vacation you'd like to have. Jasper has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Summer is the most popular time to visit. Visitors can experience everything from snowy ski days in the mountains to sun-kissed afternoons by a lake. The park's vastness ensures that there is always something new to explore.
There are numerous reasons why travelers want to spend time in the Canadian Rockies. Of the five UNESCO-protected parks, the two most popular ones are Jasper and Banff. Jasper National Park is a massive wilderness area located in Alberta, Canada. At 11,000 square kilometres, it is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. This park is a unique place with fantastic nature trails and scenic vistas.
While summer is considered the best time to visit Jasper National Park, it is a charming place year-round. The travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations are here to discuss how you can enjoy each of Canada's stunning seasons in a setting that showcases them at their best.
Here are some of Jasper's signature highlights, organized by season, to inspire your wanderlust.
Spring: March to May
Spring ushers Jasper National Park out of its cold winter and into a relatively warm summer. In this part of Canada, spring is regarded as the shoulder season. Temperatures in March can reach single digits, while daytime highs in May can reach 50 degrees. With the mild weather, visitors can enjoy being outside. The spring rainfall, combined with the snowmelt, makes the park's numerous waterfalls very photogenic. It's a great time for strolling alongside rushing rivers. In the latter half of spring, some wildflowers begin to bloom.
- Partake in adrenaline-pumping activities, such as mountain biking. Whitewater rafting tours usually start running in mid-May,
- Spot bears in late spring, particularly in the early morning or late evening. Deer and elk are commonly seen during spring as well. In general, spring is an excellent time for wildlife viewing.
- Explore the hiking trails around the valley bottom. Trails in the alpine are likely to still have snow during the spring and early summer.
- Spring skiing at Marmot Basin is usually available until end of April.
- Sometimes, there are blizzards, and other times the temperature is quite warm. Temperatures can vary from 30 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 to 15 degrees Celsius).
- Jasper Nordic Fest (March) The Jasper Nordic Fest (1) is a multi-day sports festival that attracts skiers and athletes from all over Western Canada. It features the newly established trails at Athabasca Falls and Whirlpool Hub. The festival has a range of events, including competitive skiing for families, leisure skiers, racers, and children.
- Jasper Canadian Rockies Half Marathon (April) Experience euphoria as you run a marathon backdropped by Jasper's stunning peaks. The most picturesque runs are frequently the most difficult. However, the Jasper Canadian Rockies Half Marathon (2) provides runners with a well-maintained, fairly flat course. The runs are easily accessible to adoring crowds and provide some of the best scenery in the area.
- Kokanee Freeride (April) Marmot Basin Ski Resort hosts the greatest spring ski and snowboard party, Kokanee Freeride, in the spring.
- Jasper Pride Festival (April) Over a thousand visitors travel from across the globe to participate in this 10-day pride event in the mountains. Jasper Pride Festival (3) celebrations include parties, skiing, burlesque shows, outdoor activities, and more. The opportunities for having fun are endless. The Pride Festival features a skiing parade at Marmot Basin, where the colorful rainbow flag is run down the mountain.
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Summer is the busiest season for tourists visiting Jasper. It is the perfect time to soak up the sun in the mountains. Temperatures range from the low 30s to the low 70s. The warm weather creates ideal conditions for water activities, like boat tours, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Most visitors during this season appreciate the alpine lakes. Summer is also a time when several fun events happen.
The chances of a dangerous cold front are lower in the summer than in any other season, so it is the preferable time of year for day hikes, backcountry adventures, camping, and more.
- Many people like to hike or bike through the rugged alpine terrain during summer. There are lots of trails to choose from.
- There are many lakes to canoe or kayak on, including Lake Edith, Lac Beauvert, and Pyramid Lake.
- Boat tours on Maligne Lake are possible between June and October.
- Ranges from 40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 21 degrees Celsius).
- Gran Fondo (June) The Gran Fondo Jasper (4) is a long-distance cycling event held entirely inside the national park system. The ForteFondo category is for riders who wish to push themselves over two incredible mountain climbs: the Marmot Climb and the climb up Edith Cavell Road.
- Canada Day (July 1) Canada Day (5) is a statutory holiday commemorating the founding of Canada. It is usually celebrated with fireworks shows, music events, barbecues, parades, and other patriotic activities. The country's largest Canada Day celebrations are usually held in Ottawa, directly in front of the parliament building.
- Parks Day (July) Most provincial parks, as well as federal and municipal park agencies, participate in this annual event. Parks (6) host events where families can have fun while learning about the importance of parks, historical sites, the ecosystem, and habitat protection.
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Fall: September to November
In September, the landscape transforms into a spectacular kaleidoscope of colours — yellow, red, and orange — and the setting is magical. Travellers can still catch 50-degree days in early fall, but temperatures drop into the tens by November. Despite the cooler temperatures, camping, hiking, and mountain biking are still relatively popular during September and October.
Tourists flock to Jasper in the fall to witness the explosion of colour. Animal lovers are likely to spot sheep and elk in this season.
- This is the best time to go camping and hiking.
- October is dark sky month and the northern lights might be visible.
- Skiing is possible during November. Marmot Basin ski area usually opens mid-November, depending on the amount of snowfall.
- During the fall season, the temperature ranges from 50 to 17 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to -8 degrees Celsius).
- Jasper Dark Sky Festival (October) Each fall, Jasper National Park organizes its annual Dark Sky Festival (7). It is the most star-studded festival in the country, literally! A few places on the planet are better suited to host a festival devoted to the magic of stargazing. It is a great experience, away from the pollution of the big cities and surrounded by the beautiful Rockies. The Jasper SkyTram Star Sessions are one of the most popular events. The evening commences with a stargazing experience led by Jasper Planetarium experts.
- Christmas in November (November) The most awaited event of the year is Christmas in November (8). In the land of a million Christmas trees, enjoy great food and wine with your friends and family. Enter through the "Home for the Holidays" gates at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and celebrate Christmas early.
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#1 Travel tip: Jasper Skytram Ride
Ride the Jasper Skytram, the Canadian Rockies' highest aerial tramway, between late March and October. The seven-minute journey up Whistlers Mountain offers beautiful panoramic views of Jasper National Park.
Winter is another wonderful season. Admire the snow-capped mountains and frozen lakes. Winter in Jasper National Park is cold, with highs barely reaching 20 degrees and lows falling below zero. However, those who brave the elements can participate in snowy adventures. It is the time of year for snowshoeing, skiing, and ice skating.
Note that the park service closes some backcountry areas during the winter to protect the caribou. Places like Moraine Lake are inaccessible due to seasonal road closures. Sometimes the Icefields Parkway closes due to avalanche risks.
- The temperature drops during this time, creating ideal conditions for skiing.
- The park has trails for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and fat biking.
- It's possible to ice skate on Pyramid and Mildred lakes in the right conditions.
- Winter temperatures range from 23 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 to -15 degrees Celsius), with January being the coldest.
- Frosty's Fat Bike Race Series (January) Frosty's Fat Bike Race Series (9) was founded in 2014 for cyclists looking to test their mental fortitude and physical fitness. The Nordic Valley resort hosts two events in Frosty's Fat Bike Race Series: cross-country and downhill races. There are no current dates for this event.
- Jasper Beer & Spirits Festival (February) The festival (10), held at the world-famous Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, offers a unique spirit/beer/food experience. It combines the spirits of beer festivals, fascinating story-time seminars, and wilderness adventures. Each evening of the two-night festival showcases different recipes of alcoholic concoctions and foods prepared by JPL's amazing chefs! Throughout the day, hear passionate tales from some of the world's best brewers, distillers, and other guests.
- Devour! The Canadian Rockies Food Film Festival (February) Discover a passion for food and film in the stunning Jasper National Park. Cozy up in the Rockies while celebrating cinema and indulging in fine food and wine. This event is also hosted at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Tasty eats, artsy films, and workshops are a few of the activities to look forward to during this festival (11). There are no dates released for 2024.
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Why Jasper National Park Is Worth Visiting In Winter
Winter is an amazing time of year to visit Jasper National Park and witness its spectacular snow-covered mountain peaks. The experience is truly magical. This season generally has lower service costs, fewer crowds, and secluded snowy landscapes. Outdoor enthusiasts will find a plethora of enjoyable activities. There are paths within the park for visitors to explore. Skiing, fat biking and snowshoeing are popular activities during this season. Jasper National Park is open in the winter, and here's why you should go.
#2 Travel tip: Always have layers
No matter which month you visit Jasper, bring a range of clothing, including a windproof jacket. Even on hot summer days, temperatures and weather conditions at higher elevations can change quickly.
Visit The Maligne Canyon
Maligne Canyon is one of the most scenic spots in Jasper National Park. It's worth visiting both in the summer and winter. Touring Maligne Canyon in winter is a memorable experience. The rock formations and frozen waterfalls are breathtaking, making this winter wonderland an incredible place to visit.
The narrow canyon and icefalls make for a very photogenic scene. The pathways along the canyon allow you to explore the site from every angle. Visitors can go ice climbing or walk around the canyon, but the safest way to do so is with a certified mountain guide. A Maligne Canyon Icewalk tour is an optional activity on our Rockies Rail Winter Wonderland trip.
Explore The Maligne Road
Driving down the Maligne Road in the winter, you will be amazed at every turn. Along the way, there are numerous natural attractions, including Maligne Lake. The region is home to a variety of wildlife, such as bighorn sheep and moose, which tourists are likely to spot along the way.
Jasper National Park has no shortage of crystal-clear lakes. The Maligne Lake, only a 45-minute drive from Jasper, is 22 kilometres (13.6 miles) long and feeds the canyon below. In the winter, you can go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing near the frozen, snow-covered lake. Maligne Lake is one of the most tranquil lakes in the Canadian Rockies and has received accolades for its natural beauty. When spending a few days in Jasper National Park, you must visit Maligne Lake.
Go Skiing At Marmot Basin
Skiing at Marmot Basin is an awesome winter outdoor activity in Jasper National Park. The Basin is approximately a 30-minute drive away from Jasper and is one of Western Canada's most impressive ski resorts. The location promises an incredible skiing experience. Moreover, the views from the chairlift tops are unmatched.
Most Frequently Asked Questions
How many days do you need to explore Jasper National Park?
Given the abundant hiking trails, it is possible to spend months in Jasper National Park without becoming bored. We recommend that you stay in Jasper for at least two to three days. During this time, you can explore some of the best sites in the area, visit numerous lakes, relax in hot pools, and go on day-long hikes.
What is the low season in Jasper?
Low season (also known as shoulder season or off-season) in the Rockies runs from September to October and from April to May.
Is Banff better than Jasper?
Banff has more to offer in terms of convenience and accessibility to mountains. Jasper is more difficult to reach. However, Jasper is a charming mountain town, with fewer people and visitors. Banff has a more upscale feel, with high-end outdoor stores like Helly Hansen, Canada Goose, and Fjallraven lining Banff Ave.
Is the Jasper skywalk worth it?
The Icefield Skywalk is an experience you will not find anywhere else in Canada. Experience a rush as you look down from the glass bridge and see the valley below, surrounded by mountains.
Does Jasper have hot springs?
The hottest mineral springs in the Canadian Rockies can be found at Miette Hot Springs in Alberta's Jasper National Park.
About the author: Katherine is Product Manager with Fresh Tracks Canada. Having worked in the Canadian travel industry for almost 20 years, she enjoys sharing her local expertise with visitors. She is based in Calgary and one of her favourite Canadian destination is the... Read more
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