Maligne Lake is one of the most picturesque and accessible alpine lakes in the Canadian Rockies, and taking a cruise on it is a must.
Spirit Island in Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park
Maligne Lake is, without a doubt, one of the most picture-perfect lakes of the Canadian Rockies and is the largest natural lake of the ranges. The Canadian Rockies are truly dramatic and surprisingly different from the vaunted Coloradoan Rockies. The sights one sees in the Canadian Rockies may leave one breathless.
The lake is famous for its azure waters, surrounded by the towering rugged peaks of the Rockies. Three glaciers are visible from the lake, and its most photographed islet is Spirit Island. Besides taking a cruise out onto the lake, other top activities on the lake include sport fishing, camping, hiking, kayaking, and photography.
Maligne Lake – The Most Picturesque Alpine Lake Of The Canadian Rockies
Maligne Lake stretches for 22 kilometers and is ringed by snow and ice-capped mountains. Visitors can gaze down the lake past the serene Spirit Island into the melt-water channels of Coronet Glacier.
The picture of Spirit Island in the middle of Maligne Lake with the Canadian Rockies rising in the background is one of the most popular pictures of the Rockies. The only way to get to Spirit Island is by boat. There are boat tours to Spirit Island from spring to autumn.
The Canadian outdoors doesn’t get much more stunning than this. The lake is surrounded by forests of lodgepole pine and spruce, which are home to moose, caribou, bears, and other North American wildlife.
The lake has plenty of hiking trails and, in the winter, cross-country skiing trails. This makes it a popular retreat at all times of the year.
The most popular hike in Jasper is the multi-day Skyline Trail. The 44-kilometer or 27-mile-long trail is the highest in the park and goes above the treeline. It starts at Maligne Lake and eventually finishes at the town of Jasper.
Cruise The Glacial Waters Of Maligne Lake
One of the must-do experiences at Maligne Lake is to take a cruise on the glacial waters of the lake. The experience is mesmerizing, and visitors can see it being fed by the glaciers of Jasper National Park. Cruise under the gaze of the towering peaks while keeping an eye out for roaming wildlife before enjoying a spectacular overlook of Spirit Island.
- Season: 2023 Dates: June 3, 2023 – October 9, 2023
Book online to get the best price and to avoid the lines (children five and under are free but still require a ticket). They offer a few cruise options.
Enjoy a classic interpretive cruise on the lake and have a stop at Spirit Island.
- Duration: 1.5 Hours
- Cost: $75 CAD / Adult ($56 USD)
This is a two-hour cruise that extends the Classic Cruise by adding more time on the lake and at Spirit Island.
- Duration: 2 Hours
- Cost: $104 CAD / Adult ($78 USD)
They also have pursuit rewards versions of these cruises. These tickets offer discounts for Alberta locals.
What To Know About Visiting Maligne Lake
Unlike many other alpine lakes in the Canadian Rockies, Maligne Lake is accessible by road, and it is only 27 miles or 44 kilometers south of the town of Jasper. There are also shuttle buses running to the lake from Jasper.
- Location: 27 miles from Jasper
It only takes around 45 minutes to drive from the town of Jasper along the scenic Maligne Lake Road. The road offers breathtaking vistas and the chance to spot wildlife. Just 10 minutes into the drive, visitors should stop by Maligne Canyon and admire its eye-watering landscapes.
The shuttle from Jasper mostly caters to those embarking on a multi-day backcountry hike along the Skyline Trail and offers one-way transportation between the trailheads. Learn more about the shuttle service and schedules on their website.
- Shuttle Season: Jun 25th – Sep 26th
- Cost: $39 CAD aged 16+ ($29 USD)
While Maligne Lake is a year-round destination, parts of the areas around the lake close seasonally. Between November 1 and May 15, no access is permitted in areas south of Trapper Creek along Maligne Lake (but not including the lake). This is to protect an important winter habitat for the Brazeau caribou herd.
Parks Canada also has three camping sites on the lake that are only accessible by canoe – Hidden Cove, Fisherman’s Bay, and Coronet Creek.