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. 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.
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