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.


Jasper National Park – Alberta

My brilliant wife had this great idea, as she often does. Fathers’ Day had been time shifted due to family obligations and we found ourselves free on Fathers’ Day Sunday. Why don’t we do a one day trip to Jasper, my beloved asked? Wait, what?

Let me set the stage for the next few posts:

#1 Jasper National Park (JNP) is quite possibly our favourite place on the earth, both for its mountain beauty and for the number of trips we have taken here for the past 43 years, camping, skiing, hiking, working, and just plain enjoying family time.

#2 JNP is the largest National Park in the Canadian Rockies at 11,000 square km (4,200 sq. mi.).

#3 Originally set up as Jasper Forest Park in 1907, it was granted National Park status in 1930, when the National Parks Act was passed.

#4 Originally referred to as Fitzhugh, until the North West Company established a trading post there run by Jasper Hawes from 1814 to 1817. After that point, the area began to be known as Jasper.

#5 More than 2,000,000 visitors annually.

#6 Mammalian species found in the park are the elk, caribou, moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer, porcupine, lynx, beaver, two species of fox, marten, river otter, mink, pika, grizzly bear, coyote, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, black bear, timber wolf, hoary marmot, cougar and wolverine. The most common birds that fly around this park including are bald eagles, golden eagles, Great horned owls, spruce grouses, white-tailed ptarmigans, bohemian waxwings, evening grosbeaks, Canada geese and red-necked, grebes.  (Source – Wikipedia).

#7 The park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, together with the other national and provincial parks that form the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, for the mountain landscapes containing mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons, and limestone caves as well as fossils found here. (Source – Wikipedia)

#8 Designated as a Dark Sky Preserve by the RASC (Royal Astronomical Society of Canada) in 2011. It is the 2nd largest Dark Sky Preserve in the World.

#9 Daily Admissions – $19.60 Family/Group, $9.80 Adult, $8.30 Senior or Commercial Group Individual. Annual pass which one vehicle and passengers into JNP (also all other National Parks in Canada $136.40 ($124 to all AMA members).

#10 Home to world-class tour activities such as the Jasper Tramway up Whistlers Peak, Maligne Lake Boat Cruise, Brewster Skywalk and Columbia Icefield Glacier tour. Also home to Marmot Basin Ski Hill with 3,000 feet of elevation and 90 ski-able runs.

And, so it was that we set off on our 14 hour day (10 hours driving return) for a little mountain fix. The next few posts will be on the various aspects of our day trip. Hope you enjoy the read. The following pix are from some of our other trips.

Jasper Townsite


Sunwapta Falls


Athabasca Falls


Wildlife – in order (loon, bull moose, next 4 wapiti (elk), last 2 black bears) 


Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Lac Beauvert


Maligne Lake and Boat Cruise (including Spirit Island)


Columbia Icefields and Snow Coach Tour



Jasper Tramway and views from the top