Although many travelers explore only in the summer months, wintertime adventures give us the opportunity to view well-known views with a twist. Snow contours ridges, ice drifts in emerald water and landscapes seem covered with pearl dust.

My adventure buddy Doug and I were recently lucky enough to experience Banff National Park and Jasper National Park in the winter. I’m taking a moment to give praise to the incredible winter experiences of both Banff and Jasper National Parks.


In the summer, Lake Louise is known for its shimmering emerald water, but winter casts a pearly sheet over its icy surroundings, contouring rocky ridges and exaggerating shadows. After a day of adventure, snow began to fall around us, and I sipped hot cider on the frozen shores.


Doug and I hiked up the 3.5 miles worth of switchbacks to the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff National Park, and stopped at the summit for delicious food and holiday-garbed carolers. We walked the boardwalk to Sanson’s Peak, home to the meteorological observatory building built in 1903 - and breathtaking views of the 6 surrounding mountain ranges. The peak is also accessible by an 8-minute gondola ride.


Banff and Jasper National Parks are in no short supply of picturesque mountain ranges or views of sweeping river valleys. During a simple snowy hike, Doug and I paused to have a drink. I looked out on snow-capped trees against a gray sky, a view we had often on the hike. But suddenly, this familiar view seemed to shift into something newly remarkable.


We decided to head for Jasper. The normally easy-to-drive road was altered by a whiteout snow storm. We surrendered and waited patiently for anyone to create tracks we could follow. We made it through and fell asleep in Jasper. In the morning, we were greeted by clouds breaking, and the crisp clear air of a day ready for adventure.


Starting in the early morning, we made our way to the calm waters of Patricia Lake. The surface reflected Pyramid Mountain. Moments would pass when the water was so still, the reflection became reality.


Doug walked across the narrow bridge which hovers just above the snow-covered Pyramid Lake, which rests at the base of Pyramid Mountain, Pyramid Lake has an island with picnic tables and a small wooden shelter.


Athabasca Falls drops 80 feet into a jaggedly carved gorge. A network of viewing platforms and paths give visitors accessible views of the falls, geologic changes, and the mountain backdrop. At dusk, we had the falls to ourselves.


Banff and Jasper National Park are a combined 6,764 square miles of boulder in-strewn streams running between mountain peaks, with thick groves of pine and meadows. Elk, moose, mountain goats, marmots, and pikas are just some of the animals that live here. We spotted these large male elk foraging.


On our way out of Jasper National Park, we passed a sign labeled “Goats and Glaciers.” We decided to stop, and walked up to our to the goats and glaciers view.


We ventured back to Lake Louise on our final night. We stood on the icy shore, feeling the warmth of the day fade as a veil of dusk fell over everything.