Visiting Maligne Lake is like seeing a postcard come to life. You’ve probably seen its island featured on posters and in movies more than a few times and it has become a symbol of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. On first seeing the lake, you’ll be struck by its sheer size, vivid color, and pristine mountainous backdrop. Of course Maligne Lake is much more than just a view; there is enough to do to keep you occupied for days. Visit in summer for the most diverse range of options.
As the Canadian Rockies’ biggest glacial lake, Maligne Lake is a magnet for water enthusiast. For those looking to catch a trout or two, sign up for a guided fishing tour. You can also rent your own boat and gear and purchase a license from the historic Curly Phillips Boathouse. If you rather leave the fish alone, rent a canoe or book yourself on a white-water rafting trip.
To see Spirit Island up close, take one of the 90-minute cruises. This is the idyllic-looking land mass that features in many promotional shots of the Canadian Rockies. Another epic trip is the Wildlife and Waterfall Tour. This departs Jasper twice daily in season. A naturalist takes you to Maligne Lake via Maligne Canyon. Look for moose, bighorn sheep, eagles, and marmots along the way.
If you’re setting off on your own, there are many trails to choose from. Everything from a stroll through the woods to steep uphill climbs can be found. Serious hikers should do the 27.5 mile (44 kilometer) Skyline Trail, which takes you way above tree-line. If you have the time, break it up over two or three days and experience the Canadian wilderness.
From July to the end of August, the historic Maligne Lake Chalet offers legendary afternoon teas, complete with oversized scones. The chalet is also a guest house, offering luxury lodging for up to 80 guests. It’s popular, so book well in advance.
Maligne Lake can be found 27 miles (44 kilometers) south of Jasper by following the scenic Icefields Parkway.