About Maligne Canyon Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Maligne river, that originates at Maligne lake, flows underground from Medicine lake, till it reaches Maligne Canyon. At the canyon – carved into the Palliser Formation, a layer of limestone deposited in a shallow tropical sea by lime-secreting plankton, the underground streams join force, to become the mighty flowing water that still whittles the canyon away.
Maligne canyon has a depth of more more than of 50 m at certain points. The canyon was named by a zealous Jesuit missionary, who called the canyon “la traverse maligne”, after his horses were swept away by the swirling waters. There are six bridges built across the canyon to help one explore this magnificent work of nature : the first bridge was built in 1914.
You may like to visit Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
What to do at Maligne Canyon Jasper National Park Alberta?
Things to do at Maligne Canyon
1. Hike down the canyon from the parking lot near the tea house and observe the natural rock formations and large dry potholes.
2. Walk along the rim of the canyon to the subsequent bridges, reading the interpretive displays : Enjoy a lesson in geology.
3. Marvel at the deep canyon, the water falls and the power of the churning, swirling river that created it, from the first and second bridges. Notice the water that disappeared at the Medicine Lake flowing into the Maligne Canyon through the underground cave system from the fourth bridge.
4. Observe the mosses, the lichens on the canyon walls . Try to spot American dipper as it swoops down to feed on underwater insects, check for Black swift and raven nests on the canyon walls.
5. Observe the river becoming wider and the river gaining in water volume by the time you reach the sixth bridge (due to more water from underground lakes), near the junction of Maligne and Athabasca river.
6. Enjoy Aurora-gazing / stargazing at Maligne Canyon during Jasper Dark Sky Festival – 2016 Dates: October 8, 15 (moon viewing), 19, 22, 29 | 10:30 PM
Maligne Canyon Hikes
Depending on your time and agility, you can choose from a variety of hiking options. – See the Trail Map.
There are three ways to access Maligne Canyon – See the photo.
1. From the main parking lot near the tea house and the Hi Maligne Canyon Lodge, which gives you access to the first bridge. GPS : 52.920728,-117.999004
2. From fifth bridge. GPS: 52.9214565, -118.0168955
3. The sixth bridge. If you start from here, you will be doing the full loop. GPS: 52.933431,-118.030225
The spectacular canyon views are near the first and second bridge. There are trails on either side of the canyon. The tallest waterfall is near the second bridge. If you are short on time, cross the first bridge, walk along the canyon ridge and then cross back at the second bridge and turn back.
If you want to see the Maligne Canyon at its best, go till fifth bridge (at least till fourth if short on time). 4.4 km return with 100 m elevation gain.
The advantage of hiking up from fifth or sixth bridge is that you will be able to avoid the crowds in high season.The distance from the fifth bridge to sixth bridge is ~1.6 km. This is a shared trail (bike + horseback riding)
The trail head to 2.1 km flower loop and the 15.5 km(one way ) Overlander trail starts at the sixth bridge.
Maligne Canyon in Winter
See the spectacular Ice sculptures or Ice climb at the water falls inside canyon. See the trail condition report before you start.
Go for an Ice walk on your own, or with a tour company. Do it with a tour company, if you are not confident to do it on your own. You will also get a free geology and history lesson. It is better to do it in a group as you have people near you to call for help if required. Parks Canada advises caution.
- Maligne Canyon Icewalk
- Description:Walking Tours
- Price: $49.29
- Columbia Icefield Tour including the Glacier Skywalk from Jasper
- Description:Day Trips
- Price: $156.47
- Ice Climbing in Maligne Canyon
- Description:Ski & Snow
- Price: $170.63
Maligne Canyon Ice Walk on Your Own (DIY)
If planning to do the Ice walk in Maligne Canyon on your own, get waterproof snow boots and fit it with ice cleats/crampons/micro spikes. Plan for two hours. Please make sure that you are in a group. It is good to do it on a guided tour.
1. Park at the parking lot near the tea house and walk till the fifth bridge, enjoying the frozen waterfalls and ice sculptures on the canyon rim as you peer down the canyon from the rim. The winter hiking trail for Maligne canyon ice walk starts near the fifth bridge. Follow the frozen river, and walk up the river into the canyon.
Walk on the frozen river bed enjoying the astonishing natural ice sculptures, and frozen water falls. Watch the ice climbers making their way up. Turn back once you reach the third bridge. You can continue further, but it is safer to turn back at this point especially if you are alone.
2. Another option is to park near the fifth bridge, and enter the canyon from here for the Maligne canyon ice walk.
Ice walk tours
1. Jasper adventure centre : 3 hours
Departure : 10:00 am, 2:00 pm & 7:00 pm
Rate/ Price : Adult: $65.00 & Child (under 12): $29.00
2. Maligne Adventures : 3 hours
Departs : 9:00 am, 1:00 pm & 6:00 pm, daily
Rate/ Price:$65.00 +GST; Youth (7-14): $32.50 + GST. GST extra. Not recommended for children under 7.
3. Sun dog tours : 3 hours
Departure: 10:00am, 2:00pm, 7:00pm , Daily
Adult: $65.00 & Child (6 -12): $29.00 + GST. Not recommended for children under 6.
How to get to Maligne Canyon Jasper National Park?
Maligne Canyon direction/location
From Jasper town, head north on Yellowhead highway. Turn right to Maligne road (see the signs for Maligne Lake road). After 2.3 km, turn left for the sixth bridge parking lot. Continue on the Maligne road for another 800 m for the turnoff on the left for the fifth bridge. The main parking lot near the tea house is ~ 6km from the Yellowhead highway - Maligne road intersection.
For winter road conditions to Maligne Canyon - winter report
See the Maligne canyon Google map on the sidebar for direction.
If you do not have your own transportation, take Maligne shuttle by Maligne tours.
One way fare: $30.00 +taxes for Adults & $15.00 for Child (5-14)
Free with National Park admission.
How long to see the Maligne Canyon?
Allocate 1 to 3 hours.
When to see Maligne Canyon?
Check here for current warnings and closures
What about Maligne Canyon amenities, Parking & Access?
Picnic tables,Washrooms, telephone at sixth bridge.
Paved trails at upper canyon. Wheel chair accessible. You can navigate a stroller easily. There are steps on the way to lower canyon (towards fifth & sixth bridges)
Tea house near first bridge during summer.
Accommodation near the Maligne Canyon - Hi Maligne Canyon