Jasper has the feel of a ski village. Which is strange, because there is no mountain looming over the town, no ski lifts within sight, and so very much more to do.
Situated in the heart of the national park which shares its name, Jasper is a centre for outdoor adventuring of most every kind – including biking, fishing canoeing, golfing, boat cruises, white water rafting, rock climbing, horse riding and more. You can catch a train from there to chug through the Rockies. And sports of the winter variety include snowshoeing, ice climbing, bobsleighing, dog sledding and ice skating. And skiing, of course – both the alpine and Nordic varieties. Because Jasper is, indeed, essentially a ski village.
The difference is that the skiing area, the Marmot Basin, is a 20 minute bus ride away.
Once there, it offers the obligatory spectacular Canada scenery, 86 varied runs of all grades, and a laid-back atmosphere (‘all altitude and no attitude’, it claims). There is a snowpark for boarders and a small rail park.
There are also various mountain eating and resting places.
The area is served by seven chair lifts, including three high speed quads, which together have the capacity to transport 12,000 skiers and boarders an hour. The longest chair is 2.3 kilometres long and takes under eight minutes to complete its journey. Most lifts are of reasonably recent vintage, the newest having been installed in 2011.
The area is high. Marmot Basin has the highest base elevation of any ski resort in the Canadian Rockies, at 1,698 metres. Its highest point is 2,612 metres.
The season runs from mid-November to early May.
Throughout, the slopes are usually not as crowded as some in other major Canadian ski resorts. The resort itself says this is at least partly because of its distance from major Canadian cities.
In other words, getting there is a bit of a trek – although a very pleasant one.
Winters in the basin are cold. The average temperature between November and February is well below freezing, only hitting the plus side (just) in March and April. January is usually the coldest month.
Average snowfall is 400 centimetres – or just over 13 feet – per season.
The nearest major cities, and therefore airports, to Jasper are Vancouver (about 480 miles) to the west, Edmonton (220 miles to the east), and Calgary (250 miles) to the south. After that it’s a car, bus or train ride.
Whichever way, the journey is likely to be spectacular, culminating in a ride through the National Park. .
Canada’s Highway 16 (‘the Yellowhead’), is the main east-west route to and from Jasper. The Icefields Parkway passes through forests, over rives and alongside lakes and glacier topped mountains. Often cited as one of the most scenic stretches of highway in the world, it runs north-south, connecting Jasper with Highway 1 near Lake Louise and Banff.
The maximum speed limits on Canadian roads are not high – something that needs to be factored into journey times. Inside Jasper National Park they are 90 kilometres per hour (54mph), with several areas having lower limits so as to protect wildlife.
Greyhound and other companies operate services to and from Jasper, linking it to all three cities mentioned above.
It is also possible to get to and from Jasper by train from these cities.
|Height of Marmot Basin ski area||1,698m (base)|
|Ski area||1,680 acres|
|Number of ski runs||86 – 26 green, 26 blue, 17 black and 17 double black|
|Number of lifts||7|
|Nearest airports:||Edmonton (220 miles),
Calgary (250 miles),
Vancouver (480 miles)
|Time zone||Mountain Time – UTC -7 hours|
|Useful websites||www.jasper.travel, www.skimarmot.com, www.travelalberta.com|
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