Jasper, population 5,000, is in the heart of 4,200-square-mile Jasper National Park, Canada’s largest. As a result, the town mostly caters to summer tourists, who come to explore the wide river valleys and high peaks when the wildflowers are in bloom. In winter, though, practically the only people left are locals and diehard skiers from Edmonton (four hours away), who flock to the low-key village to take advantage of the open runs and empty lifts at 1,720-acre Marmot Basin, the ski resort 15 minutes away. If you’re lucky, you’ll see wolf tracks crossing the road on the way to the resort. Or maybe, while boot-packing to the top of Marmot Peak, you’ll spot a herd of caribou off the backside of the mountain. This is to say: The resort—and the town itself—is still wild.
It’s the type of place where, while grabbing midmountain lunch at Charlie’s Bar, you’ll bump into the guy who, back in the day, first poached the new Tres Hombres area, a formerly out-of-bounds section now named for him and his two backcountry buddies. Yes, Jasper in winter may be one of the last great mountain towns, with the wildlife, the characters, and the calm to feel like home no matter where you’re from.
Where to Stay: The Fairmont Jasper Park has every amenity you’d want and extras, too, like nightly northern lights viewing parties, complete with hot chocolate and s’mores. —Ryan Krogh