Backpacker

Better in Winter

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The king is asleep.

Jasper National Park, AB

There may be no better place on the continent to experience winter than Jasper National Park. And you can tour the palace while the griz is gone. From late December to mid-March, Jasper’s 100 resident brown bears hibernate, leaving the vast lake basins and Rocky Mountain skyscrapers to the rest of the food chain. Pair a lowered guard with a mellow route that offers a chance to take in the quiet forests, snow-frosted summits, and the Milky Way from the world’s largest dark sky preserve. In the Maligne Lake zone, start with a 1-mile approach to Medicine Lake, keeping alert for bull elk and woodland caribou. From there, the 8-mile trek to Jacques Lake gains just 500 vertical feet to campsites spangled with starlight (all but guaranteed) and the shimmer of the Northern Lights, which are more common during winter. Both make a fitting light show for this ice-bound paradise.

TRAILHEAD 52.870660, -117.806103; 16 miles west of Jasper on Maligne Lake Rd.

PERMIT required; C$9.80/person per night CONTACT bit.do/maligne

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• • • • •

Ice is an amazing architect.

Garden of the Gods, Illinois

Glaciers started the work on this geological playground during the last Ice Age, but the sculpting continues today. Each winter, cold temperatures decorate the swirling rock with dagger icicles, frost crystals, and an

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