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.
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. Grab a coffee at the brand-new Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen (opens at 8 AM in summer). Then, 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: Head inside for the renowned Lakeside Luncheon at the Historic Maligne Lake Chalet featuring a menu of regionally-inspired dishes served buffet-style.
- 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 and be sure to take some time for a walk along the easy Mary Schäffer loop that goes past the historic Curly Phillips Boathouse for a view over Home Bay.
- Sundowners: Call it a day back at the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen where apres snacks and drinks are served next to the firepit on the patio and smokehouse-flavoured meals are served family-style inside. You'll head back to town full of stories of adventures and inspiration in this amazing place.
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 Wilderness Kitchen or at the Maligne Lake Ticket Office