Maligne Lake Camping
Image by Wolfgang Zenz from Pixabay/Copyright 2018

The Best Maligne Lake Camping Tour: A Complete Guide 101

Maligne Lake Camping offers the most ethereal and stunning canoe trips ever in the Canadian Rockies. Being the largest natural lake in Canada, Maligne Lake is known for its boundless beauty, the spirit island, and the boat tours.

Millions of tourist visit Maligne Lake every year for a unique paddling experience. The Magligne Lake is situated within the Jasper National Park, Alberta.

The Maligne Lake Camping is allowed only for reserved paddlers, so make sure to make reservations before you proceed. Many people also take boat tours but it barely will enable you to devour the fully fascinating serenity of Maligne Lake.

The tour boats operate mostly in the summer season which is perfect for the Maligne Lake Camping and Paddling.

Read ahead to know about all the important information and necessities you need before visiting Maligne Lake for your personal paddling and camping experience. Whether it is about navigating Maligne Lake or about requirements, we’ve got you covered for this amazing Maligne Lake Canoe Trip.

1. Maligne Lake Camping Introduction

1.1 The Maligne Lake

Covered by Glacial Curvings for over half of the year, the best seasons to visit Maligne Lake are June, July, and August.

Maligne Lake Camping is the only option if you want to experience the true potential of the most photographed place in the Canadian Rockies.

The Lake is surrounded by high peaked mountains which grow taller as you go south of Maligne Lake. Even the watercolor changes at that time.

It changes from azure to turquoise, since the water in the south is richer in Rock flour which enables the shift in color.

Maligne Lake Camping
Image by Dennis Larsen from Pixabay/Copyright 2016

With a 90-minute boat tour, you’ll be rushed to the finest locations in the lake and will be hurried back without seeing the true magic Maligne Lake has to offer.

That’s why most people are choosing to paddle their way or go to Maligne Lake Camping since you get to enjoy the full view of this gorgeous lake.

Even though the road may be a bit perilous and adventurous for the new paddlers, this magical place is worth the risk and hard work.

There are two airports nearest to Jasper National Park, Alberta. One is in Edmonton, which is only a 4-hour drive to the Lake and another is in Calgary, a 5-hour drive.

It is quicker to reach Maligne Lake from Edmonton. However, the Calgary drive provides the best and most stunning driveways through the beauty of Canada’s national parks, like the Banff National Park.

Then, from the Jasper national park, the driveway to Maligne Lake offers another set of gorgeous views through the Maligne Lake Road. Passing through Medicine Lake is another iconic highlight of the tour.

1.2 The Spirit Island

Spirit Island is a small peninsular region, situated in the middle of Maligne Lake. However, this tiny island or peninsula is the major showstopper for both boat tours and paddlers.

If you take a tour boat, you’ll be shown the famous spirit island only for 15 minutes and then you’ll be hurried back to the boat launch, without even enjoying it.

But if you choose to go with Maligne Lake camping and paddling, you can enjoy a long night on Spirit Island, having it all to yourself.

Even though there is no campsite in Spirit Island, you’ll find a total of 3 backcountry campsites in the Maligne lake campgrounds.

Maligne Lake Camping
Image by Annie from Pixabay/Copyright 2020

Acquiring your boat and paddling along the Maligne Lake can be challenging, but it allows you by visiting spirit island, the authentic way to feel the ambiance of this Lake.

From a paddler’s point of view, it may be difficult to find Spirit Island, and even if you do, you would not realize if it is the island. So, it is necessary to paddle close so for seeing it with the correct angle.

Even though people say that Spirit island is the only highlight of the Maligne Lake Cruise boats, there are the stunning mountain peaks, the lake campgrounds, and the memorable nightlife.

Since we have collected a fair knowledge about the Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park, and the Spirit Island inside of it, it is time to learn about the 3 important Maligne lake Campgrounds.

1.3 The Backcountry Maligne Lake Campgrounds

For the occasional breaks for the paddlers, there are three backcountry campsites along Maligne Lake which are, Hidden Cove Campground, Fisherman’s Bay Campground, and Coronet Creek Campground.

The paddlers must book the campgrounds before starting their journeys. For making reservations for a backcountry camping permit, you must go to the Parks Canada Website and book the campgrounds ahead of time.

The Backcountry Campgrounds have all kinds of requirements for paddlers to spend a few nights maximum, with picnic tables, fire pits, and tent pads.

There are only two nights maximum to be spent on each of the campgrounds, so popularly only 6 nights in total can be reserved from the Parks Canada Website.

You can only reach these backcountry campsites by boat, through water, and not by any other means. Paddlers are strictly for Maligne lake camping, other than these three backcountry campsites.

Campground check-in happens at a fixed time, but since people camp and visit at various times, it is not a problem.

Every campground has itinerary necessities for two nights maximum, and then it will be time to paddle your way out to the next spot.

Let’s learn about the three campsites in the Maligne Lake Canoe trip individually. It will help you get a rough map in your mind to navigate the lake easily.

i. Hidden Cove Campground

The Hidden Cove Campground is situated at a distance of 3.5 km from the access point of Maligne Lake, which is also known as the Boat dock or Maligne Lake Trailhead.

Hidden Cove is the latest campground by the Jasper National Park. It is a well-sheltered cove with 4 tent pads and the space for over 12 paddlers.

With fire pits, picnic tables, and a cabin, this campground is infamous for its family-friendly arrangement. It is the ideal destination campsite for new paddlers or the beginners of family.

Since it is the nearest small campground located from the access point, it takes only 45 minutes to an hour and a half, if you’re paddling your way there.

This backcountry campsite is a beautiful cove that is hidden on the right side of the lake. It is also safer to spend the night on the right side of the lake, due to the biting cold temperatures.

Hidden Cove is also known as the best campground to spend the night if the weather conditions at Maligne Lake are not favorable. It has the safest shelters among the other campsites.

With white blue skies and surrounding peaks of the Maligne Mountain, it is a great idea to take some memorable pictures, because the beauty is ethereal, here.

Since is the favorite campground for a lot of tourists as well as for Jasper National Park, the Maligne lake camping becomes more fulfilling.

It also has other facilities like a wood stove in the cabin, wooden tables for dinner and lunch, and other requirements. All you have to do is collect dead wood and get started on Maligne Lake Camping.

The name of the campsite itself interprets the way it is a hidden campground in the cove. It is the perfect place for roasting some chicken and marshmallows using the campfire of the campground.

It is best to stay here for a night only, since we still have a long way to go, especially since have two more campgrounds to cover along with the iconic spotlight, spirit island.

Maligne Lake Camping
Image by Melanie Avis from Pixabay/Copyright 2020

ii. Fisherman’s Bay Campground

Fisherman’s Bay Campground has to be the most popular campsite on the Maligne Lake Canoe Trip. From a total distance of 13-14 km, this campsite is the ideal place for Maligne Lake Camping.

From Maligne lake road, it takes about 3-5 hours of paddling to reach the destination of Fisherman’s bay. However, it only takes 15-20 minutes to visit Spirit Island from Fisherman’s Bay.

This is the only campground where tourists spend most nights for the Maligne Lake Camping tour. Since spirit lake is only a few minutes of paddling from Fisherman’s Bay, it would be a great plan to cover both in one day.

You can make your tents and other arrangements at Fisherman’s Bay, and then go visit Spirit Island for as much time as you want.

Spend some time at this incredible island, take some pictures, enjoy the stunning scenic views, and finally paddle your way back to Fisherman’s Bay, once again.

With 8 tent pads here, this campsite is a bit more advanced yet more rustic than the Hidden cove.

Fisherman’s Bay is situated on the eastern side of Maligne Lake, which is packed with gorgeous views of the Maligne Mountains, Sampson Peak, Mt. Unwin, and Mt. Charlton.

Maligne Lake camping is easier and more fun at Fisherman’s Bay since the place has more supplies and requirements and is larger in space with more tent pads.

Even though it gets a bit noisy with the passing boat tours at the Maligne lake boat cruise timings. However, the great fishing spot and the panoramic views at the beach of Fisherman’s Bay are worth the occasional noise.

It also has picnic tables and other elements required for your living and Maligne lake camping. Even though there aren’t any cabins like the Hidden Cove campground, it is still the most convenient campground of all.

Since this campsite is a wonderful fishing spot, now you know why it has been named the Fisherman’s Bay Campground.

Tourists generally spend a night at Fisherman’s Bay, since it is too close to the iconic picturesque Spirit Island.

iii. Coronet Creek Campground

Located at the southern end of Maligne Lake, the Coronet Creek Campground is the last one you’ll come across. With a paddle of 5- 8 hours from the Boat dock, this campsite goes past Spirit Island.

It is recommended to spend two full nights in this Coronet Creek, because of its exquisite views from the tallest mountain peaks.

The beach and the lake water have turned turquoise already due to high rock flour density.

Coronet Creek is the most beautiful and calmest campground spot among the others, due to its farthest distance from the Boat Dock.

Boat tours generally don’t come across the Coronet Creek Campground, since their journey ends mostly when Spirit Island has been visited. But, technically, this is where the climax of the Maligne Lake Camping begins.

Jasper National Park | Canoeing At Maligne Lake | Wildlife

This place is also a lovely fishing spot where you can catch rainbow trout. The place has important itinerary supplies like bear-proof lockers, toilets, fire pits, and picnic tables.

There is also a place called the Coronet Glacier where you can go hiking and get a real feel of the Maligne Lake Camping experience.

At the backside of Coronet Creek, there lies the Coronet Creek Trail from where you’ll be returning your way back to the Maligne Lake road.

Regarded as one of the coldest lakes in the Canadian Rockies, the Maligne Lake has biting cold temperatures, even in summer.

Even though it is endurable for an experienced paddler, it could be quite tough for the newer ones. So, it is crucial to collect your own firewood and heat yourself up, especially in the times of poor weather in Maligne Lake.

The Coronet Creek Campground may not be as popular as the Fisherman’s Bay, since it is quite the farthest from the boat dock, and is past spirit island.

People often overlooked or underestimate this fascinating destination, since it comes after the spirit and highland, and for most people, the tour ends there.

Coronet Creek is the place that offers peace and solitude for freshening up your mood and clearing your mood. Spending a night there is a quite therapeutic experience.

So, don’t make the mistake of forgetting this last and crucial campground destination. I would offer you some of the best nights whilst your Maligne Lake Camping Tour.

1.4 Important Information & Safety Tips

Maligne lake Camping is adventurous and fulfilling, but can also be challenging with obstacles.

Like any other camping or paddling tour, there will always be certain crucial things you need to know and essential safety measures to follow.

That’s why a list is made to ensure you know all the basic important things while your Maligne Lake camping journey. make sure to follow all the safety tips intended to address.

Maligne Lake Camping
Image by Verena Schiffers from Pixabay/Copyright 2020
  • Nothing is allowed on the waters of Maligne Lake. Only paddlers, electric motors, and Parks Canada’s Rescue Boat is allowed. Other than these, no motors or water vehicles are allowed.
  • Make sure to paddle close as much as possible. It will leave more space and range for the tour boats operating nearby and will lower the risks of collapsing onto one another. Experienced or new, whichever paddler you are, never forget to wear a life jacket, for extra safety. If you get in trouble in the middle of lake space, it would take a long time for the rescue, so beware at your own expense.
  • Always paddle close to the shore and don’t go further than that. Maligne Lake is known for its biting cold temperatures, so wear a PFD, just in case the water hits you. If something happens, you’ll be able to swim a little and get up to the shore, and won’t have to wait for the rescue team. So, stay close to the shore and follow the safety rules.
  • Maligne Canoe Trips isn’t for the weak. It is known for its winding shifting atmosphere. You may engage in windy times or even with a storm and poor weather, so sit tight. Make sure you paddle harder and extra whenever the storm strike or just strong winds come by. It may be tough or easy depending direction of the winds. But, don’t panic. Keep paddling near the shore and paddle stronger. Sometimes, you may not even move if the storm is too heavy, that time just paddle hard enough to keep the boat at the current stop, at least. Once the wind has died down, you can use your remaining energy to go back to the shore.
  • If you’re an experienced paddler, you can easily paddle your way to the farthest Coronet Creek Campground on day one. You can spend a day there and the next day comes back to fisherman’s Bay. However, if you’re a new paddler, who is new to Maligne Lake Camping, it is recommended to spend 2 nights at Fisherman’s Bay and 2 nights at Coronet Creek.
  • It has been reported during the Maligne Lake Camping that tourists have seen the invasion of Bears in the campgrounds lately. So, make sure to carry bear spray with you, in case you have an encounter with one of the bears wandering on the Maligne Lake Campgrounds.
  • Pack your waterproof bags with enough food and light dry clothes for your nights at the campgrounds. However, do not make the bags too heavy, otherwise, they will only weigh down the canoe or kayak. There are possibilities that your clothes may get drenched due to wind-changing storms at periodic times. It is a great idea to store raw fish or other raw items, that you can roast in the campfire on the campgrounds. There are bear-proof food storage lockers provided at every campground, so either way, your food will be safe. You can also go fishing and catch raw fish otherwise, for your dinner.
  • It is always a safe option to let someone know about your whereabouts. If you’re going for Maligne Lake Camping and Paddling, give the map to your close friend or a family member. Let them know how many nights you’re spending there and on what day you’ll be returning. It is safe because if something happens or you get into a kind of trouble midway, the other person will be able to do something about it.
  • Canoes are the iconic boating symbol in the Canadian Rockies. So, if you’re confused about whether to rent canoes or kayaks, read ahead. Most tourists in the Maligne Lake Camping use Canoes for multiple reasons. Canoes have an open deck and kayaks have a closed one. Even though kayaks are faster and lighter, canoes are cheaper, with great storage space and more stability and freeness with movements. It is also easier to pack. But, it totally depends on the type of boat that you’ll be comfortable paddling. So, choose whichever sounds better to you, but Canoes are the most popular, generally.

1.5 Maligne Lake Camping Navigation

Here, we’ll give a quickly made outlook on what your Maligne lake camping tour may look like. Especially, if you’re one of the new paddlers, we have created the outlook based on the beginner level.

Maligne Lake Camping
Image by Peter from Pixabay/Copyright 2018
  1. Reserve for the Maligne Lake Canoe Trip along with the Campgrounds at the website page of Parks Canada, way before your journey.
  2. Start your journey on the set date, from early morning. In early mornings, the water is calmer and there are lesser chances of wind changes and storms.
  3. Paddle your way for an hour and a half to reach the hidden cove campground and spend some time there, immersing in the spectacular views.
  4. Paddle out again from the hidden cove and cover another 3-4 hours to finally reach Fisherman’s Bay. Spend a night there and eat dinner and sleep by making tents from tent pads.
  5. The next day, paddle to spirit island which takes 15 minutes, and enjoys some quality time, while taking pictures and experiencing the magnificent glacial-capped peaks.
  6. Then, get on your canoes and paddle for 4-5 hours to reach the Coronet Creek Campground. Here, the place gets quieter and you may see some of the lake creatures like ducks. Remember to take great pictures, since the Coronet offers the most picturesque views in the entire Maligne Lake Camping. Hike up the Coronet Glacier and spend the night there.
  7. The next day, paddle back to Fisherman’s Bay soon early in the morning, and spend the entire day and night there. During the sunset, you can paddle to spirit island since it is too near from there, and get a hold of the stunning views of the Golden Hour. After that, paddle back again and spend the night at Fisherman’s Bay.
  8. The next day, leave early in the morning as usual, and paddle your way to the Maligne lake access point, finally. So, it is basically a 4-day trip but you can extend it up to 6 days if you prefer. Experienced paddlers may need just 2 or 3 days to cover the Maligne Lake Camping Tour.

2. Conclusion

Maligne lake Camping is a fantastic personal tour you can gift yourself to enjoy the thrill and serenity of this magical lake of the Jasper National Park.

With the clear white skies and the azure water, the divine beauty of Maligne Lake is boundless. Boat trips that are held do not even present the minimum beauty that this place holds.

Maligne Lake Camping
Image by Dennis Larsen from Pixabay/Copyright 2016

So, it is best to be your own boss and paddle your way through to the Maligne Lake camping and discover the incredible wonders that it has to offer.

Please make sure to be extra cautious and follow the safety measures and guidelines, and your Maligne lake Camping and Paddling Tour would be all ready to go!

Sampurna is an experienced food & travel niche writer, passionate about reading and loves experimenting with new destinations and their cuisine. Aspiring to become a professional lifestyle blogger, with a media studies background, she will lead you through some of the best recipes, restaurants, and landmarks worldwide.