As the second-largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies, Maligne Lake at Jasper National Park is a place worthy of your bucket list. You’ve probably seen a photo of it before, with azure waters as clear as a bluebird day, thunderous mountain peaks, and Spirit Island, the stunning islet people travel from all over the world to land on.
Like Baffin Island and other natural wonders of Canada, Maligne Lake offers a unique experience to visitors at different times of the year. If you are thinking about visiting Maligne Lake, you may be wondering when the best time would be for you.
To help weigh your options, we asked Michele at Sundog Tours what she thought about visiting Maligne Lake in the summer and winter seasons, the two most popular times to take advantage of the lake’s abundant diversity in wildlife, sightseeing, and outdoor activities. Since weather can be an important factor, she also provided some insight on the topsy-turvy variation in conditions you are likely to experience at Jasper National Park. Read until the end to get her local perspective on the best time to visit Maligne Lake.
Visiting Maligne Lake in the Summer
“The drive out to Maligne Lake is spectacular,” Michele says. “You drive by Medicine Lake, which is known as the disappearing lake, and see the mountain views.”
Michele says the drive itself provides ample opportunity for wildlife viewing, including:
- Bighorn sheep
- (Occasionally!) wolves
The Maligne Valley Sightseeing Tour is ideal for taking in the scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities of Medicine Lake, Maligne Canyon, Spirit Island, and Maligne Lake, making the most of what the summer season in the valley can provide visitors.
“It’s also very interesting to see where a forest fire came through in 2015. The fire attracted and increased the number of wildlife in the area after the growth, including grizzly bears, because it offered new food sources.”
Summary: If you want to experience seeing the animals of the Rockies in the wild, consider visiting Maligne Lake in the summer.
Summer Weather at Maligne Lake
The number one packing tip for visiting Maligne Lake, and Jasper National Park in general, would be to pack layers.
“The weather varies and changes pretty quickly anywhere you go in Jasper,” says Michele. “It can be a beautiful, warm day and turn into snow in the middle of the summer.”
If you want to get as close as possible to a sunny, warm-weathered summer day, book your dates for July or August. The months on either end are a bit less predictable and are more likely to display some wintery aspects, including cold winds.
“If you’re daring, you might try jumping into the lake on a warm day.”
Sounds good Michele – dare accepted!
Visiting Maligne Lake in the Winter
Winter Weather at Maligne Lake
For many visitors, Canada’s Rocky Mountains are associated in their minds with bone-dry cold, and for good reason. It does get cold, and sometimes very windy, at Jasper National Park.
“Usually February is the coldest month with many -20 degrees Celsius [-4 degrees Fahrenheit] days, and out in the elevated areas it’s even colder,” Michele says. “The lake sits around 600 meters [0.37 mile] higher elevation than the townsite.”
And Michele’s Pick Is…
“I enjoy fishing, and Maligne Lake is a great spot to rent a canoe and spend the day on the water.”
If you do decide to try fishing at Jasper National Park, make sure to purchase a fishing license ahead of time, as it is required. You can purchase a license from On-Line Sports & Tackle in Jasper and other locations.
If sore arms from paddling aren’t your thing, there are still ways to get out on to the lake in the summer.
“Our Maligne Lake Tours, including the Walk or Boat Cruise, are great ways to experience the beauty of the lake and Spirit Island without having to paddle for a full day,” she says.
“The further you get out into the lake, the bluer the water gets, which is pretty special to see.”