Maligne Lake Nature Guide

The Maligne Lake Nature Guide describes the geology, plants, and animals of Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park, part of the Canadian Rockies.

Pronounced “Muh-leen,” this famous, scenic lake lies in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The Canadian Rockies are part of the Rocky Mountains, which extend northward from near Sante Fe, New Mexico, to the Liard River, which runs along the boundary between British Columbia and the Yukon. The spine of these mountains is the Continental Divide (also known as the Great Divide). Through Jasper National Park, this crest of mountains divides the Pacific drainage from the Arctic drainage. Along the western edge of Jasper National Park, the divide also forms a natural border between British Columbia and Alberta.

At 22.3 kilometres (13.8 miles) long, Maligne Lake is the largest body of water in Jasper National Park and the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies. Its maximum depth is 97 metres (318 feet) and its maximum width is two kilometres (1.2 miles). At the aptly named Samson Narrows, the lake is just 100 metres (330 feet) wide. Maligne Lake sits at an elevation of 1,675 metres (5,495 feet) above sea level, around 600 metres (1,968 feet) higher than the town of Jasper. During the summer, the water temperature along the shoreline rises above 10°C (50°F), but deep below the surface, the water temperature is just 4°C (39°F).

Taking the boat cruise to Spirit Lake is the best way to experience local geology.