Jasper in April – Spring Skiing at Marmot Basin


Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park has always been our “Home Hill”, since we started skiing in 1976. More than 40 years later, it still excites us to think of skiing there. That is why we jumped at the chance to show it to H & L from Winnipeg when they came for a visit in early April.  Things have changed a bit since 1976. Lift tickets then were $27 and now adult day passes go for $106. There were no high speed quads and now there are 3 (the Canadian Rockies quad at 596 m (1955 feet) is the longest in the Canadian Rockies. I seem to recall there being only 41 named runs in 1976 and now there are 91. Two large new areas of ski terrain have been opened up on Eagle Ridge and Tres Hombres. And there are two terrain  parks for those who like to snowboard. These same snowboarders tend to shave the tops off the moguls on the more expert runs and now that I am 65, this is not always a bad thing.

The base elevation of 1,698m (5,570 feet) ASL is the highest in the Canadian Rockies and the top elevation of 2612m (8,570 feet) ASL gives the hill a vertical drop of 614m (3,000 feet). 30% of the runs are novice, 30% intermediate, 20% Advanced and 20% Expert.

Lift capacity is 12,000 skiers per hour and with an annual snowfall of 400 cm, the season can run from mid November to early May. Given the distance from the nearest major population center, the hill is seldom crowded and on the weekdays, you can ski straight onto the lifts. Rentals and lessons are available in the base lodge. The 4 parking lots allow skiers to easily ski to the lifts and back to their cars.


We had never skied here in April before, but ended up with a picture perfect day. Sunny, blue skies, a low temp of -3 C and a high of +5 C. Not only has the hill changed, so have we. I am now 65 and while the spirit is still willing, the body sometimes has other ideas. My Patty’s knees can no longer take a full day of skiing. I went up the hill for opening time with H & L and Patty joined us about 10:30 AM, once the snow on the lower slopes had softened a bit.

Here are the pix.


Riding the lifts


the shining Athabasca River below


H & L on the hill


photographer goggle selfie


the upper chalet (Paradise Chalet)


on the lift


at the top of Paradise Chair


Paradise Chair and runs are aptly named


selfie at top of Eagle Ridge chair


Jasper townsite from top of Eagle Ridge chair


Nobody wanted to join me for a run down from the top of Knob. A sign at the bottom of the lift states “There is no Easy way down”. I last skied this run at the age of 60. Now I can say I did it at 65, not well, but I did it and survived.


Shots from the lifts. The last one was taken while the lift was stopped for 15 minutes due to a power outage. All lifts have backup diesel motors so they can keep going and make sure all lifts have been emptied.


Various shots on Paradise and this hill truly is Paradise.


Jasper Townsite in April


Jasper is a small mountain town in Jasper National Park, 362 km. West of Edmonton, the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta. As it is situated in the protected Jasper National Park, it is a specialized municipality governed by the municipality and federal Parks Canada and is subject to a lot more rules and regulations than most Alberta towns. (SOURCE:Wikipedia)

Anyone who has visited both Banff and Jasper can see a vast difference in how these two towns have been developed. I often joke that Banff is a “shopping center with mountain scenery” while Jasper is a “mountain town”.

Given its distance from Edmonton and the fact that Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies at 11,000 square kilometers, crowds are a lot smaller and there is plenty of space for all. The population of Jasper was 4,590 as of the 2016 census. Accommodation choices vary from campsites to guest houses to cabins, hotels and motels. (SOURCE:Wikipedia)

We love Jasper, but it can due to its smaller size, the town can be crowded in peak summer and winter skiing months. At these times, accommodation can be scarce and prices can soar. We prefer to visit in shoulder or off season.

Views from our Chateau Jasper hotel room


Sunrise beauty from Geikie Strreet


Views from Patricia Street, the main shopping street.


This view of the upper tram station on the Jasper Tramway up Whislters’ Peak is visible from Connaught Drive (with a 50x zoom)


Older buildings abound. The feature photo is Parks Canada Building. The old firehall below is now used for live theatre.


Despite its small size, there are plenty of dining options in Jasper from our favourite bakeries, the Bear Paw and the Other Paw to higher end fare from Evil Dave’s Grill (photos of meals below).



On this trip, we also discovered the Sunhouse Cafe, a delicious spot for coffee, breakfast and lunch. Photos below.


We have been visiting Jasper for more than 40 years and always enjoy a return visit in any season. When we travel with someone who has not seen it before, it is like we are seeing it again for the first time, as well.


Pyramid Overlook Hike – Jasper in August

Sunday dawned a bit clearer, so after coffee and breakfast, we headed off to Whistlers to help break camp. This completed, we were left what to do with our half day and agreed upon a hike up the Pyramid Overlook trail.

Pyramid Mountain was starting to show her face through the haze (feature photo) and there was only a slight smell of smoke as we arrived at the trailhead.


There were only a few mosquitoes about this early in the day, but we decided to spray our exposed skin with a non-DEET repellent and proceeded up the trail, which was a bit more of an incline that I recalled.


We paused for the requisite Red Chair pix and to admire the expanding view, before proceeding on.


Liam, our resident rock climber decided to gain some more elevation by climbing a tree.


it was a fine day. The birds that were absent during our June hike were out in full force, but still hidden from view. Mushrooms of every description were popping up along the trail.


The morning sun did not have much heat, but was adding a nice glow, unfettered by smoke.



Wild \flowers and berries were in abundance, especially the Smooth Blue Asters.


Running short of time, we opted to head back down after about 1.5 kilometers.


admiring these views, before driving on.


Patrica Lake Hike – Stop and Smell the Smoke

Smoke and the Air Quality Index in Jasper, resulted in a change of hiking plans. We had planned a rather strenuous hike from end to end on Wilcox Pass. With the limited view, the elevation and the health risk from the smoke, we amended it to a simple walk along Patricia Lake and Cottonwood Slough (Patricia Lake Circle). We had thought to keep the walk short,  but by the end we had hiked about 5.7 km (3.5 miles).

Te trail starts along the lake and while we tried to walk along the rocky shore, it was difficult going until we headed uphill slightly to the path…


…and past this log building, which we surmised was the pumphouse for the resort water system.


Elevation rises gradually beside a rocky face, giving views of the lake…




…before turning inland through the trees and on upwards. We thought this was going to be an easy trail and we recall it was in the past, when there was no smoke.



Higher up the incline, it was decision time and we decided to circle back and head for the resort. Along the way, we found this overview of Cottonwood Slough and paused to take in the vista…



..and capture this family photo.


From this point, we wandered downhill and found ourselves on Pyramid Lake Road about 1.5 kilometers from home. Definitely time for some lunch.

Where is your favourite hike?

Seeing Red – Jasper

I have heard that my interspersing of past and current posts is a bit confusing, so I will clear these older post before continuing on with our cross Canada posts. Apologies for any confusion.  Allan

A smoky weekend in Jasper, while disappointing, led to some spectacular photos of the sun in various positions, but usually in the same unreal red colour. Unfortunately, I missed the one taken as my title. By the time I saw the red reflections on the lake, it was already too late to pop down to the shore for the shot. Oh well, I have it in my mind’s eye.