Last Updated on July 31, 2021
Jasper National Park is one of the top destinations in Canada, and is perfect destination for a winter weekend getaway. With its beautiful setting right on the Athabasca River, wild life everywhere you go, and surrounded by mountains, Jasper has so much to offer and will blow every traveler away who enjoys beautiful scenery. There is so much to see in Jasper National Park and you could easily spend weeks here exploring.
However, if you only have a weekend to spare, we have put together the ultimate Icefields Parkway and Jasper Itinerary so that you don’t miss out on the top sights.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored blog post by The Crimson Hotel Jasper and the Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit. We have stayed at The Crimson Hotel Jasper and thoroughly enjoyed our stay during our Jasper itinerary. Please note that some of the links in the below article are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you make a purchase. Click here for the full disclosure statement.
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Table of Contents
Why You Need to Visit Jasper, Canada
Jasper National Park is one of Canada’s largest national parks, so you won’t be able to see everything in just a weekend Jasper itinerary, however many of the sights are accessible on a weekend trip, including the amazing Icefields Parkway, which is magical in winter.
The Icefields Parkway is one of the most famous drives in Canada, containing some of the top sights in Jasper National Park and amazing wildlife.
If you want to see stunning frozen waterfalls, glaciers, and frozen canyons, then this Jasper itinerary for a winter weekend getaway has you covered. You may not think that the Icefields Parkway is worth visiting in winter but we think it is actually more magical than any other season. The snow covered mountains, crisp air, and blue skies make for an incredible scenery. If you have more time, check out our blog post on more of the best things to do in Jasper in winter.
Ultimate Icefields Parkway and Jasper Itinerary for a Winter Weekend Getaway
If you only have time for a weekend in Jasper National Park, it is most likely that you will be arriving from the nearest major city and international airport, in Edmonton or Calgary. While this Jasper itinerary is set up for a winter weekend getaway, it can easily be applied to any visit to Jasper and the Icefields Parkway in winter if you only have two days to visit Jasper National Park.
Arriving in Jasper and Where to Stay
The drive from Edmonton to Jasper is about 4 hours and 240 miles (386 km) and from Calgary it is 5 hours and 256 miles (413km). You’ll arrive in Jasper on a Friday evening, and after a long drive from Edmonton or Calgary will want to easily find your accommodation and find a spot to eat.
Located right on Connaught Drive, the main road through Jasper, The Crimson Jasper is one of the newest hotels in town. With only two days in your Jasper itinerary, you will want a hotel that is convenient to access and close to everything that the town of Jasper has to offer.
The hotel is welcoming, with clean rooms and a modern mountain feel. There is ample parking located at the hotel for no additional charge. Additionally, if you arrive and find the parking lot full, there is also more than enough street parking immediately in front of the hotel, or at the large public parking lot just across the street.
The Crimson Jasper has standard hotel rooms, but also offers studio hotel rooms which include a small galley kitchen, perfect for making breakfast or snacks while in the room. There are also larger rooms that include full kitchens if you prefer to cook your own meals during your visit to Jasper.
Additionally, there are pet-friendly rooms if you are traveling with your furry friends.
As you are located right in the heart of Jasper, many shops and restaurants are all located within a 5-10 minute walk.
The on-site restaurant at the Crimson Jasper is Authentic Burger which offers breakfast using locally sourced ingredients. In addition, they are open seasonally for lunch and dinner, check their website for up to date hours during your stay.
Jasper Itinerary Day 1: The Icefields Parkway in Winter Top Sights
Starting off your first day of your Jasper itinerary, you’ll be starting with driving the amazing Icefields Parkway in winter. The full Icefields Parkway stretches from Jasper all the way down to Banff National Park, and is one of the best drives in all of Canada. There isn’t time in this Jasper itinerary to complete the full drive, but many of the top sights are located in the northern section of the Icefields Parkway, perfect for visiting during a weekend getaway to Jasper in winter.
There are three main attractions included in this Jasper itinerary of the Icefields Parkway in winter, however almost every corner of the Icefields Parkway is magical, and stunning views are just around the next corner.
Just 21 miles (33 km) from the town of Jasper, Athabasca Falls is the first exciting destination for the day. Athabasca Falls aren’t overly tall, but are incredibly powerful. There is a huge volume of water that is constantly tumbling over Athabasca Falls, and it is incredible to take in the raw power of nature here.
There are multiple viewing platforms above the falls to get the best view, which are a short walk away from the parking lot. Check them all out to find your favorite view.
Next up is the impressive Sunwapta Falls, which are a further 14 miles (23 km) from Athabasca Falls. The falls are known for their unique feature of having a small island in the middle of the river, just above the falls. Sunwapta Falls drop approximately 60 feet (18 m), and in winter the sides of the drop are covered in icicles, which is breathtaking to take in.
There are actually an upper and lower Sunwapta Falls, with the upper falls being more famous and popular. It is a very short walk to the bridge that overlooks the falls, however the path can be quite slippery in winter. If you’re interested in checking out the lower Sunwapta Falls, it is a bit of a hike. The trail begins at the same parking lot and is 2 mile (3.2 km) out and back trail. The lower falls are not nearly as spectacular, but it is a nice short hike to see more waterfalls and get out, stretch your legs, and enjoy nature.
A further 30 miles (48 km) from Sunwapta Falls, is the impressive Columbia Icefield. The Columbia Icefield is quite literally, a field of ice! It is comprised of six major glaciers and covers 125 square miles (325 sq km). The glaciers that you can see from the Icefields Parkway are just a very small portion of this massive icefield.
During the summer months you can take a walk, if you dare, out onto the glass bottomed Skywalk, which stands 918 feet (280 m) above the ground. You are able to take a trip in one of the huge off-road buses up to the base of the glacier, but during winter the area is mostly popular for sightseeing and ski mountaineering.
After you’ve taken in the impressive Columbia Icefield, it is a 65 mile (104 km) drive back to Jasper to complete the first day of your Jasper itinerary and the Icefields Parkway in winter. The total driving time for the day is approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, however you will also want to stop frequently to take pictures, and explore each of the destinations above. That makes this a pretty full day in your Jasper itinerary, but you should have sufficient time to return to Jasper and enjoy a nice dinner in one of Jaspers many restaurants that feature great local cuisine.
A couple things to note while driving the Icefields Parkway, is that it is quite remote. There are no gas stations, restaurants, or cell-service once you leave the town of Jasper. This means it makes sense to pack enough water, snacks for the day, and make sure you fill up on fuel before setting off. Also make sure to bring a blanket and warm clothes as it can get quite cold in winter.
Jasper Itinerary Day 2: Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake
Day 2 of the Jasper Itinerary for a winter weekend getaway involves less driving, and some very unique sights closer to the town of Jasper. The highlight of the day is the Maligne Canyon Icewalk, however the order in which you complete these three activities will be dependent on which tour time you select. The Maligne Canyon Icewalk begins and ends at the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen, meaning there is no driving between these activities.
Additionally, the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen is located just 6 miles (10 km) from the town of Jasper and is located on Maligne Lake Road.
Maligne Canyon Icewalk
The Maligne Canyon Icewalk includes incredible views of jaw-dropping frozen waterfalls from the top of the narrow Maligne Canyon, as well as an icewalk through the base of the canyon. Each tour is slightly different as where you go within the canyon changes based upon the ice conditions.
Tours are available starting at 9:00 AM, 1:00 PM, and 6:00 PM, and take approximately 3 hours. For more in-depth information on the Maligne Canyon Icewalk, check out our blog post on the best things to do in Jasper in winter, or the Maligne Canyon Icewalk website for the most up to date information.
Maligne Canyon Icewalk Tour Key Information
Dates: Tours begin in mid-December and run to the beginning of April, Thursday to Monday through December, and Friday to Sunday for the rest of the season. All tours are subject to weather conditions.
Time: Tours are available in the morning at 9:00 AM, afternoon at 1:00 PM, and evening at 6:00PM and last approximately 3 hours.
Cost: Tickets start at $69 CAD ($53 USD) for an adult, and $35 CAD ($27 USD) for a child.
What’s Included: A Maligne Canyon Icewalk Tour ticket includes:
- Pick-up by shuttle bus from your Jasper hotel (if needed)
- Warm winter boots and crampons to use for the tour
- Guided tour in small groups
- Warm beverage at the end of the tour
Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen
The Maligne Canyon Icewalk tours start and end at the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen. If you select the morning icewalk beginning at 9:00 AM, you will arrive back at lunchtime, and it will be hard to resist the delicious looking food they serve up here.
The Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen is located in a beautiful building, with nature views in every direction and is oozing in luxury Canadian mountain style. They offer a smokehouse inspired menu, with a focus on sourcing local and natural ingredients.
It’s even a great place to sit outdoors for a hot beverage and snack with their many firepits and fire tables to keep you warm as you take in the natural beauty that is all around.
As the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen is located on the dead-end Maligne Lake Road, if you are not hungry just yet, you can make the drive out to the end of the road, and Maligne Lake, and stop by the Wilderness Kitchen on the way back.
Maligne Lake is located at the end of the twisting and turning Maligne Lake Road, which is a 23 mile (37 km) drive from the Wilderness Kitchen. There are great views all along the road as it follows the Maligne River and passes by the smaller Medicine Lake, all the while towering mountain peaks are right above you.
In summer, this is a very popular place to take the Maligne Lake Boat Cruise, however in winter the lake freezes over! It does however offer many opportunities for snowshoeing and exploring the trails around the lake.
Another thing Maligne Lake, and Maligne Lake Road, is known for is that it is one of the best places to spot a moose in Jasper National Park! We were told this was our best chance to spot a moose in Jasper National Park, and we were not disappointed! One unique thing to know is that moose like to lick the road salt off of people’s cars, which is not a good behavior for them to learn. So if a moose tries to lick the salt off your car, slowly drive away.
After taking in the sights of Maligne Lake, it’s time to head back to Jasper and back home, signaling the end to your winter weekend Jasper itinerary.
Ultimate Icefields Parkway and Jasper Itinerary for a Winter Weekend Getaway
While you won’t be able to see all of Jasper National Park in a weekend, it still makes a great winter weekend getaway destination to take in some of the amazing sights that the Canadian Rockies have to offer. Have you been to Jasper National Park? Let us know in the comments below!
Pin this post to your Icefields Parkway Itinerary Pinterest board for when you plan your trip there!