Seasonal closures for caribou conservation
Winter is the perfect time to explore Jasper National Park. Before you head out, take a moment to learn about what’s new this year for both winter recreation and woodland caribou conservation.
Adding to year-round conservation measures and habitat protections, seasonal closures in important winter caribou habitat come in to effect on November 1. The Tonquin area reopens for winter recreation on February 16. The Maligne-Brazeau and North Boundary areas reopen on March 1 (February 29 on leap years). No access to these backcountry areas is permitted during the seasonal closures.
In Jasper National Park, critical caribou habitat is protected under Canada’s National Parks Act and Species at Risk Act.
How does this affect you?
Backcountry access for recreation in winter caribou habitat is delayed until later in the season - when days are longer and temperatures are generally warmer. Please help us protect Jasper’s threatened caribou by choosing other areas of the park for winter activities.
Jasper offers many opportunities to experience the park in winter. You can also visit some of our most popular destinations during a less busy time of year. Highlights include:
- seeing Athabasca Falls frozen in time
- strolling around Pyramid Island surrounded by a white blanket of snow
- cross-country skiing along the Whirlpool River
- exploring the Maligne Lake area on foot, with snowshoes, or on skis
- fat-biking on trails close to town
- skating on frozen lakes
- stargazing under Jasper’s dark skies
Winter closures protect over 3200 km2 of winter habitat for caribou in Jasper National Park from November to March. The purpose of these closures is to prevent people from creating trails that wolves can use to prey on caribou in places that are otherwise inaccessible. Research shows that trails packed by backcountry skiers, snowboarders, and snowshoers can lead wolves to prey on caribou in high elevation areas where caribou go to avoid predators.
Since seasonal closures in caribou winter ranges were first implemented in 2009, Parks Canada has collected data about wolf habitat use through radio collars and remote cameras. This tracking data shows that wolves are more likely to use caribou habitat and valleys when trails exist, and that because of closures and declining wolf numbers, fewer wolves have been documented in caribou habitat.
There is no change to seasonal caribou closures in the Brazeau, Tonquin or À La Pêche Ranges from 2019-2020.
As of November 1, 2020, the boundaries of the winter caribou habitat closure in the Maligne Range will change to allow some limited opportunities for recreation, while maintaining 96% of the area of the Maligne-Brazeau closure that keeps a large area of the park free from human disturbance for four months of the year. Parks Canada reviewed the closure boundary based on the evidence that no caribou remain in the Maligne Range. In the event that caribou are observed in the Maligne Range in the future, the closure will be reassessed and reinstated at any time if appropriate.
From November 1 through to February 15, no access is permitted to critical caribou habitat in the Tonquin Range. This includes Cavell Road, Astoria Trail, Portal Creek Trail and Whistlers Creek Valley.
From November 1 through to February 28, access to critical caribou habitat in the Maligne-Brazeau Range is limited. East of Highway 93, the closure includes areas west of the Maligne River from Signal Mountain south to the Brazeau River. It also includes the majority of the Skyline Trail, and the entirety of the Watchtower Trail, Maligne Pass, Poboktan Creek Trail and the Brazeau Loop.
Access to some terrain in the Bald Hills and the area between Big Shovel and Little Shovel Passes is no longer restricted.
- Jeffery Creek Trail, accessed by crossing the Maligne River at Rosemary’s Rock
- Bald Hills Trail, accessed from the parking lot at the end of Maligne Lake Road
Travel along the Skyline Trail between Little Shovel Pass and the Bald Hills is not permitted until after March 1, 2021.
From November 1 through to February 28, no access is permitted to critical caribou habitat in the À La Pêche Range. This includes Rock Creek Trail from the park boundary to Willow Creek and the North Boundary Trail between Willow Creek and Wolverine North Campground.
Caribou Conservation Program