Banff Jasper Collection
3 min

What a place! There's so much to see along the road that follows a glacier valley between the Maligne and Elizabeth mountain ranges, cruising along the ever-changing surface of the Palliser Formation.

The earth feels alive and raw here - like a rare sneak-peek inside our planet. Change feels ever-present, from an eroding limestone canyon to a lake draining into underground caves.

Maligne Canyon

Here's how to spend the perfect day in the Maligne Valley:

  • Head east from the Town of Jasper on Highway 16 and then south on Maligne Road. Turn left at the Sixth Bridge sign.
  • Start at the Canyon. Get out of town straight away and have breakfast at the canyon. Inside the Maligne Canyon Restaurant, starting at 8 AM in summer, there's cinnamon french toast and lattes, or if you're eager, a coffee and muffin to go. Follow the interpretive trail to hike the canyon, exploring the erosion of ancient limestone - the ever-changing face of Earth. At times 50 meters deep yet only a few metres wide, there's high drama here. Some geologists say the canyon was once a series of caves, but they've been exposed by scraping glacier and erosion. GIve yourself 3 hours here.
  • Wildlife and Wonders: En route to Maligne Lake, take some time to pull over and explore Medicine Lake. It's the famous 'disappearing lake' that vanishes and then re-appears annually as it drains and then refills underground caves. Watch for wildlife en route. It's also place to learn about fire ecology after the 2015 Excelsior Wildfire. 
  • Walk it Off: When you arrive a Maligne Lake, give yourself a few moments to soak in the scene. This is the second-largest glacier-fed lake in the world. And it's a stunner! Walk the interpretive Mary Schäffer Loop to explore some history as well. Book your tickets for an afternoon cruise (see below). 
  • Lakeside for lunch. Then, head inside for lunch. The Historic Maligne Lake Chalet has a signature lunch featuring a menu of regionally-inspired dishes served buffet-style. Or head into the Maligne Lake Day Lodge for something quicker.
  • Wilderness by Water. Sail 14 kilometers across the stunning blue-green lake to Spirit Island, surrounded by snow- and ice-capped peaks. The Premium Cruise gives you extra time at the island and offers more chances to learn and explore. 
  • Happy Hour: Back on dry land, your spirits may be soaring! Stop in the Day Lodge for a cocktail or for Afternoon High Tea at Maligne Canyon before heading back to town. 

Boats on the Maligne Lake with mountains in the background

Tip #1: Give yourself at least 6 hours for this itinerary, and up to 10 if you are able to include both breakfast and afternoon tea.

Tip #2: Heading out early in the morning means better chance of wildlife. Remember to stay in your car. 

Tip #3: If you're driving, be sure to fill up your tank in Jasper. 

Tip #4: Hiking in Maligne Valley is very popular. There are many outstanding trails for all levels. Pick up a trail map at The Maligne Canyon Restaurant & Gift Shop or at the Maligne Lake Ticket Office

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