Hello my loves! My recent trip to Alberta in winter was like stepping foot in a real life snowglobe… talk about bucket list! In this blog I have put together a comprehensive guide to my 10-day adventure, in the hopes that it will inspire one of your own and if you’re new here (hello!) help you plan your winter journey through Alberta.
In my opinion, 10 days in Alberta is about as ideal as it gets: just enough time to pack it all in and not enough time to get frostbite (no really, it gets that cold!) If you’re heading to Alberta for a ski trip you may wish to add a few more days to hit up the slopes, as this itinerary only allows for one day and is scheduled as more of a highlights tour. I hope you enjoy!
Visiting Alberta in Winter
Day 1: Arrive in Edmonton
When flying into Alberta you have two options for the arrival: Edmonton or Calgary. The best way to pack in as much as possible for your trip is to fly into one and out of the other, but if you’re asking me, Edmonton is your preferred starting point because the views are that much better when travelling south on the Icefields Parkway.
You should aim to spend at least one night in Edmonton as it is surprising how enjoyable this city is (after travelling so much for five years I’m a little tired of cities, but believe me when I say this one is worth a visit!)
For more info on your visit, you can read my full Guide to Edmonton.
Day 2: Jasper National Park
Rise and shine, its time to commence the journey to the Canadian Rockies! The drive from Edmonton to Jasper takes around four hours, so be sure to stack up on some snacks and download some good tunes. If I could pick just one favourite place to visit Alberta in winter, it would be Jasper.
Once you arrive in Jasper, head on down to the town and grab a bite to eat at Coco’s on the main street, it is hands down my favourite place to eat in Jasper and any local will tell you how great it is!
After such a long day on the road, check yourself into your accommodation and kick back for the afternoon before a big day of activities tomorrow.
For more info and detailed planning, you can read my Guide to Visiting Jasper National Park in Winter.
Day 3: Jasper National Park
You’ll need at least a full day to check out the sites around Jasper National Park – starting with my personal favourite, Maligne Canyon! You can join an ice walk tour if you would prefer, but by no means is it necessary. The trail in and out of the canyon is very easy to follow, but be sure to wear waterproof shoes as the winter conditions change so frequently.
Some other great sites nearby include Maligne lake, Medicine lake, Pyramid lake and Athabasca falls, though you can keep the latter two up your sleeve for a couple days time when you drive the Icefields Parkway.
Read more: A Guide to Visiting Jasper in Winter
Day 4: Marmot Basin
If you’re going to spend just one day on the slopes or visit just one mountain, I would recommend taking the time to visit Marmot Basin whilst in Jasper and skipping the ski resorts in Banff (unless you like crowds and waiting for lifts – then of course, go for it!)
Marmot is the stuff ski resorts are made of – it has plenty of green, blue, black and double black runs, all leading back to the same base chairlift. There are never any waits for chairlifts, the slopes are often all to yourself (or with very minimal traffic) and the views are incredible! If you visit in January you can also enjoy a discount on your chairlift pass for “Jasper in January”!
Day 5: Icefields Parkway
Be sure to pack your bags the night before and be ready to hit the road early: today is the biggest day on the road and for good reason! The Icefields Parkway is commonly regarded as one of the world’s most impressive drives, particularly if travelling in the direction of Jasper to Banff. There are oodles of stops to make along the way, including but not limited to:
Athabasca falls, Pyramid lake, Peyto lake, Bow lake, Abraham lake and it’s frozen ice bubbles, and much more!
Day 6: Lake Louise
After a big day on the road yesterday, make today a slow day to enjoy the serenity of Lake Louise. On the lake itself there are a number of activities to enjoy, including ice skating, an ice castle, snowshoeing, and even an ice bar! Alberta in winter doesn’t get more magical than this.
Day 7: Lake Louise
After a cruisey day enjoying lake, be sure to make the most of the activities on offer around Lake Louise. My personal favourite was to experience dog-sledding, something you can only do when visiting the North and an incredible experience at that!
Day 8: Banff
Today we make our way to the final stop of the trip and an absolute: Banff. I was pretty excited about arriving in Banff as I have heard so much from my Aussie friends about how charming this little town is. After spending the afternoon exploring the town itself, I checked in to my accommodation for my stay: the Fairmont Banff Springs, an iconic hotel known to many as “the castle in the rockies”. If your budget allows, a stay here is a once in a liftime kind of experience, so you’ll want to spend at least some of your time enjoying the facilities (outdoor skating rink, outdoor heated pools, the spa facilities, etc.)
Day 9: Banff
Now time to get out there and explore Banff! There are a couple of ski resorts to check out if you’re after another day on the slopes, or if you’d prefer a more casual day then be sure to check out Johnston Canyon (wear appropriate footwear for an ice walk) and Vermillion Lakes (a photographer’s dream).
Day 10: Fly out of Calgary
All good things must come to an end! If you would prefer to spend your last day in Calgary, it is only a 90 minute drive between the two, leaving enough time to explore Downtown or stay an extra night or two. After such a busy 10 days I chose to spend the last day recovering in the steam + sauna rooms at my hotel, afterwards enjoying a hot chocolate at WhiteBark Cafe, before making my way to the airport.
A huuuuuge thank you to Travel Alberta for flying me out to explore the region – what an amazing trip! All opinions and photos are my own.