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What to do in the Canadian Rockies in Winter

By Where Writers

There are loads of things to do in Banff and Jasper national parks in the winter. Take a break from the ski hills to discover snowshoeing tours, ice walks, dogsledding, tobogganing and the best spots for a cozy fire pit picnic.

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Skate the Lake

Ice on Jasper’s Lake Mildred is kept smooth by the makeshift zamboni tractor operated by Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Glide the 1-km loop (watch for trout below the ice) or join a hockey game on one of four groomed rinks. Hockey and figure skates can be rented on-site; supports are available for those with shaky legs.

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Image: Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours

Take the Leash

Snowy Owl’s dogsledding tours put you in control. Choose from a two-, four- or eight-hour tour and drive your own team of lively huskies across Canmore’s frozen lakes and valleys. Or take a moonlit night tour with Jasper’s Cold Fire Creek Dogsledding.

Go on Snowy Walk

Let the outdoors be your classroom. Taryn Wagar of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise says their guided Mountain Heritage Program tours are “like a history lesson” on snowshoes, cross-country skis or ice cleats (the latter during an icewalk to Johnston Canyon’s frozen waterfalls). Come to the dark side and let the stars light your way on their Night Owl snowshoe tour.

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Ride a Fat Bike

Make the most of Jasper’s trails year-round, starting with the inaugural Jasper Fat Bike Race & Summit Jan 12-14. “Riding on the snow with a fat tire bike is a lot easier than people think,” says race organizer Myriam Bolduc. Drop by a Jasper bike rental shop for gear and groomed trail suggestions.

Discover Winter Wildlife

Rise and shine! Morning is the best time to spot Jasper’s wildlife. Paul Hardy from SunDog Tours recommends the Winter Wildlife Discovery to take “advantage of having guides who know the habitat and nature of the local animals.” Ask questions and keep your eyes peeled. Between the wolves, moose, and beautiful scenery, these tours are picture-perfect.

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Toboggan Banff’s Best Hills

Tuck your feet in and push! Locals know Spray Meadows between the Fairmont Banff Springs and the Spray River is the best hill for tobogganing. Rent a toboggan on-site at Chateau Mountain Sports or grab one at SnowTips in town. Warm up with traditional fondue at nearby Waldhaus Pub.

Hike on Ice

Watch for athletic ice climbing demonstrations during your Maligne Canyon icewalk.  “There are climbers in the canyon almost everyday,” notes guide Trevor Lescard. Recently locals have hit new heights by pioneering new ice and mixed climb routes within the canyon, while guided ice climbing for first-timers is more popular than ever.

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Image: Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka

Stay Snug

Exploring the Canadian Rockies in winter doesn’t have to be chilly. Cuddle under a blanket during an excursion to the Canadian Rockies’ most famous lake with Brewster Lake Louise Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides. Sleigh rides along the Bow River with Banff Trail Riders include a fireside stop with hot chocolate. Or get the blood pumping on a cross-country skiing trail at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

Have a Winter Cookout

Think picnics are just for summer? Think again. Cascade Ponds is perfect for a cozy outdoor feast. Roast smokies and make s’mores in the shelter’s wood stove or fire pit.
See more Banff, CanmoreLake Louise and Jasper activities.

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

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