With its glistening glacial waters and snow-capped Rockies peaks, Maligne Lake is one of the highlights of any Canadian visit. Following the Maligne River almost 50 kilometres from Jasper, past the narrow depths of Maligne Canyon and the mysterious disappearing Medicine Lake, the road terminates at the lake.
A haven for hikers (especially the famed multi-day Skyline Trail) and canoeists, its scenic blessing attracts numerous visitors in the warmer months. Bordered by conifer forests, tumbling glaciers and glorious mountain vistas, the lake is plied by regular boat journeys along most of its 22 kilometres. As the second largest glacial lake in the world, Maligne Lake is teeth-chatteringly cold, rarely venturing above four or five degrees (Celsius).
Smoothly cruising on the lake, glaciers drip between the mountainous peaks, necks craning at the towering imposing Rockies peaks. The boat passes Charlton and Unwin Glaciers and creeps ever closer towards Coronet Glacier at the far extreme of the lake.
The water seems to change colour, the crisp blue of the early journey being slowly swept into an aquamarine green. Wildlife enjoy the surrounds with regular sightings of moose, elk, deer and bears.
All boat journeys stop for a short stop at Spirit Island, a familiar location even on a first visit as it is plastered across Canadian travel brochures worldwide. The tiny isthmus and pine covered rocky outcrop offer a short stroll and a break from the boat.
The drive along the Maligne Lake Road is an eye-opening journey and a Jasper highlight culminating in stupendous vistas of Maligne Lake. While the French explorers named this wicked or evil for its torturous landscape, the narrow roads make for a superb one day outing.