Maligne Lake Weather
Jasper National Park has four distinct seasons, including short, relatively hot summers and long, cold winters.
While spring arrives in the lower valleys by late April, Maligne Lake remains frozen, and its surrounding shore, including the Bald Hills and the Opal Hills, remains covered in snow until well into May. Usually, Maligne Lake is not totally thawed until late May or the first week of June. Generally, spring is a rainy time of year, and precipitation falls as snow at higher elevations.
The summer solstice, June 21 is officially the first day of summer. On this day, the longest of the year, Maligne Lake enjoys almost 17 hours of sunlight. July is the warmest month in the park, with an average daytime temperature above 23°C (73°F). On the hottest summer days, the temperature rises above 30°C (86°F) along lower-elevation valleys. These temperatures are more bearable in the mountains than in coastal regions due to the dryness of the air. Throughout the summer, outdoor enthusiasts take full advantage of the long, warm days at Maligne Lake and spend as much time as possible hiking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and camping.
With its bracing, fresh air, autumn (usually known as “fall” in North America) is a transitional season. Due to the lack of crowds at this time of year, September, the first month of autumn, is a great time to visit Jasper National Park and is the last chance to experience Maligne Lake by boat. Although the cruises and rentals offered by Maligne Tours end in early October, the lake is still accessible and can be enjoyed well into autumn. With less traffic on Maligne Lake Road, this is a good time to see wildlife such as elk, moose, deer, bighorn sheep, and bears feeding before the valley is blanketed with snow. By late September, the mountain air has a distinct chill and morning frost is common. The highest temperature variations of the year occur in October; the temperature has reached 30°C (86°F) in the Athabasca River valley, but can also dip as low as -20°C (-4°F). September snowfalls are not uncommon at higher elevations, and by late November, winter has set in throughout the Maligne Valley. The surrounding mountains draw the moisture out of the air and down into the valley. Maligne Lake is usually frozen by late November.
The winter solstice, December 21, marks the shortest day of the year. At lower elevations, it is dark by 4:00 p.m., and at Maligne Lake, the sun has disappeared behind the mountains by 3 p.m. January is the park’s coldest month. The average daily low is -17.8°C (1.4°F), although it will often get as cold as -30°C (-22°F) for a few days. Very rarely, temperatures may drop below -40°C (-40°F). Severe cold weather is often accompanied by sunshine; the cold is a dry cold, unlike the damp cold experienced in coastal regions. Snow blankets the Maligne Valley throughout winter. Maligne Lake Road remains open, but it is not officially cleared. In years of lighter snowfall, it is possible to drive all the way to Maligne Lake. Usually, though, the road is drivable only as far as Medicine Lake, where cross-country skiers set out for day trips to the lake.
For weather conditions in Jasper National Park, call 780 852 6176.