Boating on Maligne Lake

By Amanda May
Staff Writer

Floating along, surrounded by high mountain peaks, boating in Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park is one of the most beautiful vacation activities in Canada.

Calm skies and calm waters at Maligne Lake.

The lake is at the foot of Mount Charlton, Mount Unwin, Mount Mary Vaux, Llysfran Peak, Lea Peak, Samson Peak and Mount Paul. With so many peaks in the area, you’ll want to bring your camera to remember this view in the wilderness of Jasper National Park.

The lake was created by a landslide that came off the surrounding Opal Hills. The 700 million cubic yards (500 million cubic meters) of dirt and rocks created a natural dam in the lower valley. The water backed up an voila, you’ve got Maligne Lake.

A variety of boat types are allowed on the lake’s pristine waters. Rent a canoe or a rowboat to take in the scenery in real time, or get a powered boat to really cruise around.

Electric motors without on-board generators are allowed on most of Jasper’s road-accessible lakes like Maligne Lake.

To get used to the lake, we recommend getting an early start your first day. The lake is usually calm around 9 a.m., a great time to observe the morning beauty and calm.

It’s a good idea to get used to the lake before you shove off because it is a very cold lake year round. Hypothermia can be a concern if you capsize. Because of this, it’s also a good idea to always paddle close to shore and wear a life jacket.

Good boaters live by a strict set of rules, including always wearing life jackets, never overloading the boat and always leaving at least a foot (30 cm) of free board (space between the water level and the top of your watercraft).

While you’re exploring the lake, keep in mind that small watercraft have right of way over powered tour boats, but avoid crossing in front of the big ones just in case.

The larger tour boats generally travel down the middle of the lake from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. This is a good point, in that you probably won’t need to worry about right of way if you stay close to the lake edges, but watch out for the waves that the boats create. They are best taken head on (bow first).

Wind is another wave-maker that you should keep an eye out for. Because the weather in the Canadian Rockies is fairly unpredictable, always be ready for a sudden storm, drop in temperatures and even snow in the middle of summer! Head inland if you start to see the weather taking a turn for the worse. Check the live Jasper Web Cam for current weather conditions in the area!

Also, be aware while loading and unloading that black bears and grizzlies live in and are present in the area. Give the bears, as well as all the smaller animals enough space to live naturally in their habitat. Remember: you’re the tourist in their house!

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