I think I’ve mentioned this before, but living in Calgary, I always say I’m going to take advantage of being so close to the mountains, and never do. Well listen up, if you’re like me and want to get out there more and breathe that fresh mountain air, this is the year to do it. 2017 marks Canada’s 150th anniversary, and to celebrate their big 1-5-0, Parks Canada is inviting all Canadians and visitors from around the world to enjoy the beauty of all Parks Canada locations from coast to coast for FREE! You can get your free pass here (plus make sure you enter their contest because the prizes sound pretty awesome). I decided to join in the beautiful celebration and headed to Jasper for a quick visit. It was breathtaking. For those of you who have been to Banff and Lake Louise, take the extra time to get up to Jasper – it has a much more laid back vibe, the streets are waaay less busy, and it’s the second largest dark sky reserve in the world, so you may even see the Northern Lights! Here’s a look at some of the adventures I got up to!

Just 10 minutes from downtown you’ll find yourself at Pyramid Lake Resort. They have outdoor fire pits, a hockey rink and skating paths set up on the lake, and they even have handmade curling stones (aka wooden blocks with handles), so you can take in a quick game. The area is completely open to the public, so you don’t have to stay at the resort to enjoy the surrounding beauty. Side note: to take in the sights during the summer months, you can rent kayaks, canoes, and even mountain bikes. Just a couple minutes up the road is a bridge leading to a small island that gives you the perfect view of Pyramid Mountain. Since the lake is frozen, you can walk right onto the ice (as far as you are willing to go!) and watch the sunset. There’s something special in those silent moments when your surroundings are so quiet you can hear your own heartbeat. Life truly is beautiful.

Hands down, my favourite part of this trip was walking through Maligne Canyon. In the summer, water rushes through the over 50 metre deep canyon, but in the winter, you can walk directly on the frozen ice and take in the wonder from a completely different perspective. There are guided tours available, but I would personally save yourself the $65. Instead, rent some crampons for $8 (or bring your own) and make your own trail! We started at the fifth bridge and followed the summer trail all the way up to the first bridge – by staying on the summer trail, you get some amazing views looking down into the canyon. As we started heading back, there was a clear entry point where the fence was peeled backed (around the fourth bridge, but there are multiple spots where you can hop down, just look for the footprints!). It was so amazing walking through the twists and turns of the canyon, knowing it’s usually filled with rushing water. The pictures don’t do it justice – I felt so small! You can even walk behind a frozen waterfall, I started to feel slightly claustrophobic, but it was incredible nonetheless.

There’s beauty all around us, we just have to make the effort to embrace it. I hope this year you are able to take some time, slow down, and celebrate the natural beauty that is Canada (plus come on, you get a free pass, so get out there!). Nature has an uncanny ability to soothe the soul.

Until next time,

Courtney