With its breathtaking mountain setting and an abundance of wildlife, Maligne Lake surely ranks among the great natural wonders of the world. Tour boats bound for Spirit Island glide across crystal-clear water, adventurous visitors set out in canoes and kayaks for secluded coves, and anglers cast for trophy-sized trout. Hikers head out on well-formed trails along the lake to panoramic viewpoints and into the surrounding emerald forest and cross fast-flowing streams to emerge at picturesque lakes. However you choose to experience the jewel of Jasper National Park, Maligne Lake serves up a veritable feast of memorable experiences.
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 Pacific drainage from 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).
Click on the links to the right for our Maligne Lake Travel Guide.
Maligne Lake Information Sources
In downtown Jasper, the Park Information Centre (Connaught Dr., 780/852-6176, www.pc.gc.ca, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily in summer, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily the rest of the year) provides general information on the area and has updates on local trail conditions. Also within the building is the Parks Canada Trail Office (780/852-6177), which handles questions for those planning on canoeing to Maligne Lake’s backcountry campgrounds. Tourism Jasper (780/852-6236, www.jasper.travel) also has a desk in the building. For information on tours, visiting the dedicated Maligne Tours office out at the lake or in downtown Jasper at 616 Patricia Street (780 852 3370 or 866 625 4463, www.malignelake.com).
The only book dedicated to the lake is Maligne Lake: The Jewel of Jasper National Park. Written by a local expert and beautifully illustrated with historic and contemporary photographs, Maligne Lake features the natural and human history of this scenic lake. With detailed accounts of everything there is to see and do at Maligne Lake and a full-colour map, Maligne Lake is an invaluable resource for visitors and locals alike. It is sold at the Maligne Lake day lodge, as well as at other Jasper bookstores and online by Summerthought Publishing.