- Published: Wednesday, 12 March 2014 12:00
- Written by Mary Anne Been
Jasper is located high up in the Canadian Rockies. It’s a small town, but it gets quite a bit of tourism year round. The summer months bring visitors for their annual family vacations at the lakefront resorts, and winter brings avid snow sports enthusiasts.
We visited during Christmas on our family vacation and stayed at the Pyramid Lake Resort above town. This mountain resort made it feel as though we were visiting Kellerman’s from the movie “Dirty Dancing.” It is certainly a place where families come to spend their summer vacation on the lake canoeing, hiking, and getting away from it all.
Jason, the kids, and I were excited to have a white Christmas for once. We arrived in Jasper on the VIA Rail Canadian on Christmas Day and checked into our hotel. Then we headed out for a nice Christmas dinner at one of the hotel’s sister properties, Chateau Jasper. It was a lovely spread of traditional Christmas favorites.
Our adventure started the next morning when we woke up. Building snowmen, riding in horse-drawn carriages, ice-skating, and playing ice hockey were all options at the resort to keep the girls occupied. They opted to just run around and throw snow at each other until SunDog Tours arrived to pick us up for our Maligne Canyon Ice Hike. Something you can only do during the winter months, the Maligne Canyon Ice Hike is unbelievably beautiful. With ice spikes on our shoes we explored the frozen river and all its majestic frozen water formations. This is something everyone must do if visiting Jasper in the wintertime. It’s an easy hike and very fun for everyone in the family.
We are usually very busy travelers; resting or having a leisurely afternoon isn’t part of our repertoire. So the next day we were off again with SunDog Tours on a wildlife tour. Jasper is home to some incredible animals. Though we were not lucky enough to see them all, we did see some bighorn sheep running up and down the mountainside and elk grazing and meandering around. We heard a pack of wolves howling, and there were also black and grizzly bears, moose, coyote, and reindeer in the area.
Our day was jam-packed with activities. As soon as we got back from our wildlife tour, we ate a quick lunch and were back on the road with Paula Beauchamp of Walks and Talks Jasper. Paula picked us up for an afternoon of snowshoeing at Medicine Lake. The kids could barely wait to get out on the snow and try out the snowshoes. None of us had ever been snowshoeing before, so this was going to be interesting. Though pretty easy, it’s quite a workout. Paula kept reminding us to take it easy, slow down, and remember we had to walk back as far as we walked out. I suppose it was the excitement of something new that kept us all going, but poor little Olivia wore herself out before the rest of us were ready to head back. We stopped for some photo ops and then turned back. Paula not only gave expert advice on snowshoeing but also a wonderful history lesson on the area.
Our last day was spent checking out Jasper proper. We went down into town and walked around the streets and visited the shops along the main drag. We had dinner the previous night at a local favorite called Evil Dave’s Grill, which has a little dish called Cowboy Sushi that is not to be missed.
We had a great time in Jasper and now want to go back in the summer for some warmer outdoor activities.