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A Winter Guide to Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta

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A Winter Guide to Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta

Winter in both Jasper and Banff National Parks is absolutely magical.

From the flurries of snow cascading down the sky, to the unbelievably clear and teal blue pools of water, visiting the Canadian Rockies during the winter is something that needs to be on your bucket list.

Today I’m sharing my little winter guide on driving from Banff to Jasper in Alberta!

Adam and I visited Banff and Jasper for 3 days in November, and it was the most romantic anniversary trip.

It was a little difficult to plan our trip because so many hikes and places were closed for the winter, but overall we managed to see a bunch of beautiful spots.

Now that I’ve seen Banff during the summer and winter, seeing it during the fall is on my bucket list!

I’d love to see it surrounded with coloured leaves someday.

Here are some of the top things to see and do in Banff and Jasper during the winter!


Tips for your 3 days in Banff and Jasper

Rent a car for your Banff to Jasper trip

While there are buses that take you from Calgary to Banff, and Banff to Jasper, you’re definitely better off renting a car.

By having your own vehicle, you can stop along any stops you come across, and spend as much time as you want in each attraction.

It’s also cold and snowy during the winter, so you’ll be much more comfortable hopping in and out of the car rental versus on a bus.

RELATED POST:
How to Spend 4 Days in Banff, Alberta

Expedia is my go-to website for booking car rentals because you can collect points towards free rewards!


Day 1: Icefields Parkway & Bow Lake

Icefields Parkway

We headed straight to Bow Lake from the Calgary Airport, which was around a two and a half hour drive.

We made a few stops on our way from Calgary to Bow Lake along Icefields Parkway.

The Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the world, and it’s always worth making tons of stops along.

The views are absolutely incredible, even during the winter!

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Hat: American Apparel (similar from Roots) | Crewneck: Everlane | Denim: Zara (similar from Everlane) | Boots: Ugg | Socks: Roots

One of the perks of visiting Banff during the winter is less crowds.

We managed to get a few shots in the middle of the road with this gorgeous mountain view!

If you choose to do this as well, please do so at your own risk, my friend.

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Bow Lake

Bow Lake is a nice little spot in Banff National Park.

We couldn’t see much because of all the snow, but it was still pleasant to walk around the area.

We even managed to get some beautiful shots here!

LOCATION: Banff National Park, AB | Website

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Day 2: Sunwapta Falls, Peyto Lake, Lake Louise, & Town of Banff

Sunwapta Falls

We came early to Sunwapta Falls hoping to catch the sunrise, but we didn’t get any sun.

We made the best of it and just enjoyed the view.

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If you look closely, you can see Adam right by the waterfall.

I didn’t dare to even climb down the trees – I was happy standing safely by the bridge!

It ain’t always worth it for the ‘Gram.

LOCATION: Jasper National Park, AB | Website

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Peyto Lake

Do I even need to say anything about this place?

Peyto Lake is an absolutely incredible gem in Banff National Park.

The walk up to the top was a little tiring, but I blame it on the elevation and the cold air going up my nose.

LOCATION: Banff National Park, AB | Website

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Lake Louise

Lake Louise is one of my favourite places in the entire world.

It’s beautiful no matter what time of the year you go, and this was my first time seeing it in the winter.

If you come later during the season, Lake Louise freezes over and you can skate over the ice!

LOCATION: Lake Louise, AB | Website

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Hat: American Apparel (similar from Roots) | Sweater: Everlane | Denim: Citizens of Humanity | Boots: Ugg | Socks: Roots


Town of Banff

We wandered off into the town of Banff and did a little bit of exploring and souvenir shopping.

For dinner, we went to Block Kitchen + Bar, an awesome Asian fusion restaurant with a cool urban rustic interior.

We ordered a bunch of small tapas to share!

LOCATION: Banff, AB | Website

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The adorable town of Banff.
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Dinner at Block Kitchen + Bar, a delicious fusion restaurant

Day 3: Emerald Lake & Downtown Calgary

Emerald Lake

Okay, so Emerald Lake is not in Alberta, it’s actually in Yoho National Park, British Columbia.

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We had no idea until we arrived at the Airbnb the night before in the town of Field.

We thought it was pretty hilarious, and it didn’t really matter because it was only a half hour drive out of Banff anyways.

We came to Emerald Lake for sunrise, and just like the other morning at Sunwapta Falls, the sun didn’t show up.

It was still an amazing stop, and we loved having it all to ourselves early in the morning.

It would be so nice to stay in one of the cabins here at Emerald Lake!

LOCATION: 1 Emerald Lake Rd, Field, BC | Website

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Downtown Calgary

We headed back to Calgary afterwards, which was about a two and a half hour drive.

We did a little bit of exploring and a little bit of eating in downtown Calgary.

The food scene is actually pretty great here, which I was pleasantly surprised by!

OEB Breakfast Co. was one of the top rated Calgary restaurants on Yelp, and we had a delicious brunch there.

There were so many amazing options on the menu, and it was hard to narrow it down to just one!

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We couldn’t find too many things to do in downtown Calgary, but we came across the uniquely-designed Peace Bridge, made for pedestrians and cyclists.

While it was a nice spot to visit, it’s definitely not one to go out of your way to see.

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For dinner we visited Workshop Kitchen + Culture, and they’re known for their daily rotating set dinner menus.

The tasting menus are expensive, but definitely worth the experience!

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The three course tasting menu is $55 per person and the five course one is $85 per person, and we both went with the three course one.

Our waiter asked us about any dietary restrictions (we have none), then surprised us with the chef’s creations for the night!

We enjoyed every single dish we tried.

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Dinner at Workshop Kitchen + Culture.

Banff flights & accommodations

Looking to book your flights and accommodations for Banff?

I love booking all of my flights and hotels on Expedia and collecting points towards free rewards.

I use Airbnb when I’m traveling on a budget, and I have a separate blog post all about how to find the best Airbnbs.


Banff to Jasper is always a fun road trip idea, whether you’re visiting during the summer or the winter.

It’s one of those trips that just never gets old – like Niagara Falls!

If you have some time to spend in Calgary, I’ve got a blog post all about how to spend 24 hours in Calgary!

Have you been to Jasper and Banff National Parks during the winter before? What are the best stops from Banff to Jasper? I’d love to know in the comments!

P.S. if you liked this post, you might like this post on what to do in Jasper and Banff during the spring, or any of my other posts on traveling in Alberta.

Be sure to keep up with me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest if you aren’t already!

Jessica Lam | Toronto lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and travel blogger | Diary of a Toronto Girl, a Canadian lifestyle blog

Top things to do in Jasper and Banff National Park in Banff, Alberta in the winter | Banff, Alberta travel guide | what to do in Jasper & Banff, Canada | best Banff travel itinerary | best places to visit in Canada during the winter | where to go in Canada during the holidays | how to spend 3 days in Banff National Park | Diary of a Toronto Girl, a Toronto lifestyle blog

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