With Jasper just a few hours away from my hometown, it makes it hard to resist taking a few days off work to escape to the mountains. There’s something about the mountain air; two days in the Rockies was enough to leave us feeling more relaxed.
When we were in Jasper we booked one night at Pyramid Lake Resort. In summer (June-August, peak season) a room here can cost upwards of 300$ a night but for us, it was only 30$ per person. We did use a coupon I had for Booking.com but the main reason we were able to afford to stay at a resort was just timing. By going in the winter we felt like we had the resort to ourselves and enjoyed luxury accommodation for a third of the normal price.
Waking up to this view was amazing.
The cheapest option for accommodation in Jasper is to either camp or stay at the hostel in the downtown. There are two options to get from the capital city, Edmonton, (and airport if you’re flying in) to Jasper. MagicBus can take you from Edmonton to Jasper and includes a lift ticket for Marmot Basin. The other option would be to rent a car, I’d recommend this because then you have more control over your own schedule and can explore other places.
Jasper isn’t the cheapest place to travel, between ski tickets, accommodation, and gas, a weekend in Jasper will typically cost 300$+ but we managed to do it on 150$ each.
Unlike in Europe, there aren’t a lot of hostels in Canada and flights within Canada can be just as expensive as international flights. This is changing quickly with budget airlines, cheaper fares, and generally more people travelling to Canada. So, on behalf of Canada, sorry it’s not cheap to travel here but we hope you enjoy our beautiful country nonetheless. I’m biased, but I think it’s worth every penny.
Day 1 – Pyramid Lake trails and Maligne Canyon
If you’re going to the mountains, you need to pack hiking boots. The hikes in Jasper are incredible and every time I go back I find different spots to explore.
Pyramid Lake –
About 5 minutes down the road was Pyramid Lake Island, a picturesque spot in the middle of the lake with a forested area, home to a few Rocky Mountain Squirrels.
I honestly thought there was a bear because the water was making growling sounds, it was still moving beneath the thin ice. There were even some fish swimming, we could see them under the water from the bridge connecting Pyramid Lake to the island. We hardly saw anyone else on the trails, it was so picturesque and I would certainly recommend this hike to beginners.
There were more trails a few minutes up the road as well, we took the time to go to another much smaller bridge with a little babbling brook underneath it. This was a peaceful spot, but it was so not relaxing to see wolf tracks on the trails.
Maligne Canyon –
This is one of my all time favourite spots in Jasper, if not in all of Canada. In the summer, however, it can be overrun by tourists and tourist buses. Because we went in winter, the parking lot was empty and we maybe saw five other people the whole time we were there.
This is a popular hike but it’s not easy in the winter. The trails are covered in ice and we literally resorted to sliding down on our bums at some parts, it was too icy to bother trying to walk. Smart hikers would have bought some of the ice spikes to go over their boots.
It goes along the canyon and eventually, hikers will find themselves actually inside the canyon’s walls. We were lucky to see some waterfalls along the way as some of the canyon hadn’t frozen over yet.
At the time of year we went and with the weather there was, it wasn’t necessary to get a guide. I have done the hike before with a guide. When the canyon’s water is completely frozen over, the guide would be necessary and worth it for safety.
The town of Jasper – Jasper itself is very small, maybe two streets with a few blocks each. I’ve only ever ate at Jasper Pizza Place – you can’t miss it with the bear statue out front. We got pizza here on our way back to the resort. We didn’t spend much time in the town center but there are a few nice local shops and cafes along the main street if that interests you.
Day 2 – SKI DAY!!
This was without a doubt one of the best days of my year, if not my life. I know that’s dramatic but we could not have asked for a more perfect day. The weather was ideal, I actually ended up going back to the car and taking off a couple sweaters because I was too warm.
Marmot Basin is about a 30 minute drive from Jasper, through windy mountain roads with all these snow capped evergreen trees. Once we got there, the lovely Australian staff helped us out and we got onto the mountain within a half hour (if you want to meet Canadians don’t go to Jasper -all the people at Marmot were on working holiday from Australia or New Zealand or Europe).
The parking lot is just off one of the main runs so we could go down the mountain and ski right up to our car. We packed food so this made it super easy to have a midday picnic and then get literally right back on the mountain runs. It is up a bit from the main chalet so if you do want to park a car at Marmot, make sure you have room to take your rental skis with you in the car and then you can ski right from the parking lot.
On a monday in mid -December, there was hardly anyone else and we never waited in line for a chairlift up. That probably wouldn’t be true for a weekend trip but it made it really easy for us to spend as much time skiing as possible.
Marmot’s got an assortment of runs, with some green runs going from really high altitudes. The views are so amazing and I found myself stopping a lot while going down the mountain just to admire it. I cannot wait to go back to Marmot again, although I doubt we will ever get that lucky with the weather and the timing.
So, here I have to admit that on the drive home, I hit a pothole going highway speed and knocked one of my tires. I thought it wasn’t a big deal to have a dent in the wheel but when we were one hour away from home, my dad called and told me we had to pull over as soon as possible.
We sat at a random gas station and waited for my Dad to come to take a better look at it. (Thank you to my awesome Dad for coming to our rescue!!) We all ended up getting home safely and I took the car in the next day for repairs – I knocked off the hubcap, screwed up the steering alignment a little, and needed a new wheel and tire obviously.
This wasn’t the ideal way to end our trip but travelling is never ideal. I’ve never had a trip where everything happened according to plan and there were no hiccups, it just doesn’t happen. But that’s what I love about travelling, you have to problem solve, abandon perfect comfort, and maybe google “how to fix a flat tire” at a random gas station on the way home.
Total cost of the trip – accommodation 30$, pizza 13$, gas 25$, ski boot rental 20$, lift ticket with student ID 76$ = 164$ (not including car repairs)
Thanks to my best friend Gillian for making me go skiing and taking me on this trip, I’m so glad we made it happen.
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