It rained on and off during our stay around Jasper National Park for an extended September long weekend. Luckily, it didn’t dampen our fun seeing Maligne Lake, the largest glacially fed lake in the Canadian Rockies. We were happy that the most popular way to discover the lake is from a comfortable enclosed boat with large windows. This was great because other than going on the deck for photos, we were kept warm and dry.
The boat took us over to the Spirit Island, a small but iconic gem in the lake, where we were able to get off the boat to take some photos and go for a little walk. We only had about ten minutes on the island, but it was plenty of time to do the short walk to the lookout, and down around the side of Spirit Island.
It was also nice that the boats seemed to be timed well, so there wasn’t too many people around, admiring Spirit Island, or walking up to the outlook. You aren’t allowed to actually step foot on the island, it is protected, but the little hiking trail alongside the island is a great spot to snap some of those legendary Spirit Island photos.
We realized, too, that Spirit Island isn’t the only attraction to make a fuss over seeing. It really is about the whole package in front of you: the island, mountains and lake together create a magical scene that was almost like a painting. This was one extra special experience on our trip that really showed us how incredible and blessed we are to be Canadian.
Our guide told us a lot about the natural and human history of the area, with one story was particularly interesting. The man who monitors the bears in the area noticed that one of the bears had not moved for around ten days, and went to check on the bear. This bear had weighed 220 pounds at this point and the man found the bear eating away at a Moose it had found, or killed. Over that period of no movement, the bear was able to devour the whole Moose, and after hibernation, the bear awoke and was much bigger, weighing in at an easy 400 pounds and it’s head had even at least doubled in size. It was interesting to once again see how amazing wildlife is, as well as how massive a bear can become over what to us seems like a short period of time to put on that much weight!
Even though it was rainy and the mountains were shrouded in clouds, the scenery was still breath-taking and the water was pristine blue. Although there were some clouds in the sky, the views will still leave you speechless. The view is so gorgeous that it really doesn’t feel like it can be real.
We loved that through the boat tour we had an easily accessible way to cruise Maligne Lake and see Spirit Island without adding hours onto our trip. It was also great to take the cruise since we had our two kids with us, who are three and one year old. We felt like they were safe the whole time and it was smooth sailing along the waters. There was also plenty of room on the back of the boat for a handful of us to go out at a time to snap pictures. If you didn’t want to go outside with the weather, the windows also were able to open half way, so you don’t have to worry about having an obstructed view while snapping away.
There’s so much more to do on the lake other than a cruise, too. It would be quite the journey, as the boat alone takes 45 minutes to get to Spirit Island, but there was a couple of people kayaking. They were boasting about how incredible the experience was. As they spoke of how unbelievable it was, you just knew that taking the much longer route that will require a lot of hard work on your part may well be worth it too, if you have the extra time. Hiking is also a great way to get some fabulous views of the lake.
Maligne Lake at Spirit Island was so peaceful and serene; we didn’t want to leave.
Know before you go:
- Use the washroom before you get on the boat. There is no washroom on board.
- It is always colder on the water, so if you plan on going on the back deck to take photos, make sure you have a warm jacket when it’s not in the heat of summer.
- Tours run from May through October.
- If you’re hungry, there’s a variety of food/snacks and beverages at the Maligne Lake Day Lodge, just steps from the water.
Have you ever visited Maligne Lake? What did you think about it?
Our experience was sponsored by Brewster Travel Canada, but as always, our opinions are our own.