Winter Adventure in Jasper National Park


By Sharon K. Kurtz


ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Travel writer Sharon K. Kurtz talks about her winter outdoor adventures in Jasper National Park. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Podbean.

As a journalist, I’m always searching for stories that capture the essence of nature’s wonders. Recently, I embarked on a journey into the heart of winter enchantment, exploring Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, alongside three fellow journalists. Our goal was to uncover the magic of winter in the Canadian Rockies, from the captivating Maligne Canyon Icewalk to the tranquil allure of snowshoeing on Pyramid Lake.

Nestled in the heart of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, Jasper National Park is the largest national park in Canada and covers more than 4,000 square miles of natural wonders. Known for its abundant wildlife and extensive trail network; visitors from all over the world travel here to experience this very special place in all seasons.

Our host, Gabby, picked us up in Banff, and the adventure began with a 4-hour scenic drive along the iconic Icefields Parkway, which offers breathtaking vistas of snow-covered peaks.

Encountering Wildlife on the Icefields Parkway
The largest icefield along the Icefields Parkway that climbers often use in winter is the Columbia Icefield. Ringed by incredible snow peaked mountains, ancient glaciers, ice covered lakes and winter wildlife. I t is one of the largest icefields in North America.  It straddles the border between Banff National Park and Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. It covers an area of approximately 125 square miles. It feeds several major glaciers, including the Athabasca Glacier and the Dome Glacier.

Climbers and mountaineers are drawn to the Columbia Icefield for its challenging terrain and stunning alpine scenery. In winter, the ice field transforms into a frozen wonderland, offering opportunities for ice climbing, glacier trekking, and winter mountaineering adventures.

As we ventured deeper into the park, our journey was punctuated by encounters with wildlife. Majestic elk grazed near the roadside, their antlers adorned with snow, while a rare sighting of a red fox watched us with curious eyes. However, our drive was not without its challenges, as a herd of mountain goats halted our progress along the parkway, reminding us of the importance of respecting the park’s inhabitants and their natural habitat.

Arriving in Jasper, we took a tour of the small town before traveling through the park’s snow-covered wonders. Our first stop was Pyramid Lake Lodge, a historic establishment dating back to the early 20th century, where we would be staying. From the 9,000-foot summit of Pyramid Peak, there is a panoramic view of surrounding mountain ranges in the rugged Rocky Mountains and the pristine wilderness of Jasper National Park. 


The History of Pyramid Lake Lodge and Island
Pyramid Lake Lodge holds a storied past, originating in the 1920s as a fishing lodge catering to outdoor enthusiasts seeking the pristine wilderness of the Canadian Rockies. Over the decades, the lodge has evolved, expanding its facilities and services while maintaining its rustic charm and connection to nature. Today, it stands as a beloved retreat for travelers seeking adventure and relaxation in the heart of the Canadian wilderness, with its picturesque location on the shores of Pyramid Lake offering an ideal basecamp for exploring Jasper National Park.

Pyramid Lake Island, situated within the lake’s tranquil waters, holds significant cultural and ecological value. Indigenous peoples, including the Stoney Nakoda, consider the area sacred, believing it to be imbued with spiritual energy connected to creation stories and traditional teachings. Additionally, the lake and its surroundings provide vital habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, contributing to the area’s biodiversity.

The Maligne Canyon Icewalk Experience
Our expedition kicked off the next morning with the famed Maligne Canyon Icewalk Experience. Wearing warm clothes, boots with crampons, and helmets, we were led by a licensed guide, Liam, into the canyon’s depths. We marveled at the frozen waterfalls and towering limestone walls illuminated by the winter sun. The experience was nothing short of magical, offering a glimpse into the raw beauty of Jasper’s winter landscape.

Liam shared insights into the canyon’s geology, wildlife, and cultural history as we traversed the icy terrain. We navigated narrow passages and icy caverns, each turn revealing new marvels of nature’s creation. The Maligne Canyon Icewalk proved to be a surreal adventure, showcasing the power and beauty of nature in the Canadian Rockies during the winter months.

Snowshoeing to Pyramid Lake Island
The following day, we set out to explore Pyramid Lake. Despite the softened ice preventing us from ice skating, snowshoeing proved to be a delightful alternative. We trekked to Pyramid Island, surrounded by the serene wilderness of the lake. The snow-covered landscape stretched before us and was ringed by the towering Rockies.

With each step, we were captivated by the pristine beauty of the surroundings, the crisp air invigorating our senses, and the quiet.  Pyramid Lake Island held a sense of timelessness, a sanctuary amidst the winter wilderness. As we explored its shores, we couldn’t help but marvel at the natural wonders surrounding us, grateful for the opportunity to experience such beauty firsthand.

A Celestial Oasis
One of the highlights of our journey was witnessing Jasper National Park’s Dark Sky Preserve, the world’s second largest dark sky preserve in the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies Known for its abundant wildlife and extensive trail network; visitors from all over the world travel here to experience this very special place.

Part of UNESCO’s Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, the preserve was established in 2011 and encompasses over 4,000 square miles. It is dedicated to protecting the park’s natural nighttime environment. We attended an evening Dark Sky program on the edge of Pyramid Lake, immersing ourselves in the wonders of the night sky guided by expert astronomers.

Despite cloudy weather hiding the stars, the experience gave us a deeper appreciation for the universe’s mysteries and the importance of preserving dark skies for future generations. Our evening experience came with a 2-year raincheck, so you can be sure I will be back for another attempt to catch the Northern Lights.

Reflecting on my winter expedition in Jasper, I am grateful for the opportunity to experience nature’s wonders in all their glory. From the icy depths of Maligne Canyon to the tranquil shores of Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park captivated my heart and soul, leaving me with memories that will last a lifetime.

My winter adventure in Jasper National Park was hosted by Pursuit Collection, but all opinions are my own.  For more information about Jasper National Park, activities, and accommodations, reach out to Tourism Jasper.

Sharon Kurtz is an Austin-based freelance travel writer and award-winning photographer. She is passionate about exploring the world and sharing her experiences through captivating storytelling, and Big Blend Radio podcast, “Wander the World with Sharon.”  She is an active member of The Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and The International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA). Follow her travels on and


Park Travel Guide Visit Link Here
Website Link Visit Link Here
Search Terms
About the Author:

Sharon Kurtz is an Austin-based freelance travel writer and award-winning photographer.

No Feedback Received