The Best Maligne Lake Camping Tour: A Complete Guide 101

Sampurna Laha
Sampurna Laha Travel
18 Min Read
Photo by Dee K on Unsplash

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 tourists visit this lake every year for a unique paddling experience. It is situated within the Jasper National Park, Alberta. Here, camping is allowed only for reserved paddlers, so make sure to make reservations before you proceed.

Read ahead to learn 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 the lake or the 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. 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
Photo by Andrew Svk on Unsplash

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.

If you 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 3 backcountry campsites at the Maligne lake campgrounds.

The Spirit Island
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Acquiring your boat and paddling along the Maligne Lake can be challenging, but it allows you to visit 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 to see 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.

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. To make reservations for a backcountry camping permit, you must go to the Parks Canada Website and book the campgrounds ahead of time. 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.

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 beginner of the family. 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.

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

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. 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.

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

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.

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.

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. 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 therapeutic experience.

1.4 Important Information & Safety Tips

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 ensures you know all the basic important things on your Maligne Lake camping journey. Make sure to follow all the safety tips intended to address:

Maligne Lake
Photo by Dee K on Unsplash
  1. Nothing is allowed on the waters of Maligne Lake. Only paddlers, electric motors, and Parks Canada’s Rescue Boat are permitted. Other than these, no motors or water vehicles are allowed.
  2. Make sure to paddle as close as possible. It will leave more space and range for the tour boats operating nearby, lowering the risks of collapsing onto one another.
  3. Never forget to wear a life jacket, for extra safety.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Pack your waterproof bags with enough food and light dry clothes for your nights at the campgrounds. There are bear-proof food storage lockers provided at every campground, so either way, your food will be safe.
  7. It is a safe option to let someone know about your whereabouts. If something happens or you get into a kind of trouble midway, the other person will be able to do something about it.

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.

Camping Maligne Lake
Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

Step 1:

Reserve for the Maligne Lake Canoe Trip along with the Campgrounds at the website page of Parks Canada, way before your journey.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 5:

The next day, paddle to Spirit Island which takes 15 minutes, and enjoy some quality time, while taking pictures and experiencing the magnificent glacial-capped peaks.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 8:

The next day, leave early in the morning as usual and paddle your way to the Maligne Lake access point. So, it is 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 will be all ready to go!

    Last Updated on by Sampurna Laha

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