Jasper Icewalk – Discover Maligne Canyon in Winter

Hiking the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park is an incredible experience in any season, but it’s particularly special in winter. When the canyon freezes, you get the opportunity to see frozen waterfalls and other incredible ice formations. It’s nature’s artistry at its finest. It’s wonderful to walk along the snow-covered trails near the canyon’s edge, but a Jasper icewalk lets you walk on the frozen Maligne River and see the ice formations close up.

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An image of a group of people walking on the trail in Maligne Canyon in winter - Jasper icewalk.
Even if you don’t do the icewalk in Jasper, the views from the trail alongside the canyon are stunning. Photo by Greg Olsen.

Jasper Icewalk – Guided or On Your Own

I have hiked inside Maligne Canyon many times in just about every season and every kind of weather and I loved it every time. It never gets old. In winter, you can easily hike along the snow-covered paved trail that borders the canyon’s edge on your own – with the right equipment. If you want to experience a Jasper icewalk on the surface of the Maligne River at the bottom of the canyon, the safest way to do it is on a guided tour. There are parts of the river where the ice is unstable and falling in could be deadly. An experienced guide will take you along the safest route. They’ll also provide you with ice cleats and a helmet. There are several companies that offer guided Jasper Icewalk tours. We went with Sundog Tours on our most recent visit.

An image of a bridge inside Maligne Canyon in winter - Jasper icewalk.
Hold onto the railings and wear ice cleats when you’re hiking Maligne Canyon in winter. You wouldn’t want to fall into the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park. Photo by Greg Olsen.

What to Bring on a Jasper Icewalk

Dress in layers and bring a small day pack with water, snacks, hand warmers and warm clothing. If you’re on a guided tour, the company should provide ice cleats/microspikes and helmets. If you go on your own, you should bring your own ice cleats. Some people also find hiking poles useful. Don’t hike the canyon after dark and be sure to watch for hazards like falling ice and unstable ice on the river. You should be very careful near the canyon’s edge. Read this information from Parks Canada before you visit Maligne Canyon in winter.

Related: Read our Microspikes for Hiking Product Review.

Maligne Canyon in Winter

Even if you don’t book a guided Jasper Icewalk, you’ll want to visit Maligne Canyon in winter. You can walk along the paved trails near the canyon’s edge and stand on the bridges overlooking the canyon and get fantastic views. Hold onto the metal railing and wear microspikes, so you don’t slip into the canyon.

Get Inspired About Winter: See the amazing photos in our post, Jasper in Winter – 12 Stunning Photos.

An image of a girl standing inside Maligne Canyon on a Jasper icewalk in Alberta, Canada.
The canyon walls are almost as fascinating as the ice formations on the Maligne Canyon icewalk in Jasper. Photo by Greg Olsen.
An image of a group of people walking along an ice formation in Maligne Canyon on a Jasper Icewalk.
There is something magnificent about ice. Ask any kid who has watched the movie “Frozen.” Photo by Greg Olsen.

Jasper Icewalk Highlights

The best thing about an icewalk in Maligne Canyon is the magnificent ice formations and waterfalls inside the canyon. There are places where ice seems to pour right out of the rocks. The other spectacular thing about the Maligne Canyon icewalk is the chance to see the canyon walls from the bottom up and see the power of erosion in action. It’s a view you can’t get any other way.

AN IMAGE OF ICE CRYSTALS.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein Photo by Greg Olsen.

Where to Eat in Jasper

There are some great places to eat in Jasper. In fact, there’s a great barbecue restaurant right beside the Maligne Canyon Trailhead. Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen has a grab and go menu in winter with sandwiches, soups, snacks and beverages. In summer, they run a full service restaurant. For delicious Italian cuisine, check out Alba. The décor of the restaurant isn’t fancy, but the food is great. Another good option is Syrahs of Jasper. It’s an intimate restaurant with limited seating, so be sure to make a reservation. The white chocolate cheesecake is amazing. The Raven Bistro is another fun option. They have an eclectic Mediterranean menu and they also have an excellent selection of cocktails.

Related: Read our post, Jasper Brunch – Best Food and Coffee Restaurants.

An image of a couple standing in front of a waterfall in Maligne Canyon in winter.
If you do an icewalk in Jasper in November, you might find some parts of the canyon not yet frozen as we did.

Where to Stay in Jasper

There are a lot of options when it comes to accommodations in Jasper. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is one of the most luxurious hotels in the area with the most amenities. If you’re looking for a budget accommodation, the Jasper Downtown Hostel is a new hostel that is walking distance to just about everything. Pyramid Lake Resort is another good option in winter. They have an onsite restaurant and a skating area with ice skate rentals and sleigh rides on the lake.

An image of a moose near Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada.
Keep an eye out for wildlife on the Maligne Lake Road on your way to Maligne Canyon. We saw several moose the last time we drove it. Photo by Greg Olsen.

More Information About Visiting Jasper

For more information about visiting Jasper, check out the official tourism website or the Parks Canada website.

More Winter Fun in Jasper: Here’s what you need to know about Skiing at Marmot Basin.

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