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Photograph Spirit Island and Maligne Lake

Improvement District No. 12, Alberta

based on 5 reviews


Added by Christin Healey

A glacial lake, surrounded by rugged, sometimes snow-capped mountains, with the photogenic Spirit Island accessible only by canoe, kayak, or boat tour. Located in Jasper National Park, there is endless camping, fishing, hiking, and climbing surrounding the area.

Spirit Island in Maligne Lake, is only accessible via canoe, kayak, or boat tour. As it's a 14km paddle to the island with sometimes strong winds, most people opt for the boat tour. If you are an experienced paddler, you can get rent a canoe from here. There is a campsite as well here, if you are interested in check out this adventure.

If you are serious about photographing Spirit Island, you will want to look into their boat tour for photographers. On this trip, you go to Spirit Island when the light is better, and you will also have the place to yourself aside from the small group you are with.

When you get back from the boat, you will have plenty of time to grab some dinner, then scout out a good spot for some sunset/night photography shots. There is a pathway along the lake where you can roam around and find the best spots that work for you. If you can get a small boat in the frame, it will really give your image some perspective as the mountains and lakes are so massive.

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Adult Beverages
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Picnic Area

Photograph Spirit Island and Maligne Lake Reviews

Ok, so the Spirit Island part is still on my bucket list. My goal is to kayak to it someday. However, just seeing Maligne Lake is breathtaking. This place is a gem, scenery in every direction you look, it's a place that is even better in person.

Maligne Lake is a bit more of a drive than the other Jasper attractions but worth the trip for a beautiful lake with quaint boathouse and fewer crowds. There are multiple trails that circle the lake and photo ops galore!

I opted for the longer and more expensive through the lens tour because of how time limited the regular tour was. Prior to beginning this tour I missed my departure due to a 1 hour time change coming from BC to AB that I was unaware of. However, the staff at maligne lake put me on the regular boat tour and I met my through the lens tour group on spirit island. Having experienced both tours, I would recommend the through the lens tour if you are serious about photographing the island. The groups size on the regular tour are large and you are only given 15 mins to photograph so everyone is rushing and firing off shots and getting in your way. With the through the lens tour you have the island to yourself for about 30 mins after the last regular boat tour leaves and are on the island for 1 hour total. The guy who runs the through the lens tour is named Mike and he is super helpful and knowledgable. He even lent me his tripod as I left mine in the car after running frantically to the boat house because I was late. The lake itself is stunning but if you want extra time to take it in, I do recommend the through the lens tour as an alternative to canoeing the 11k. If you're in a pinch, the regular tour should suffice

We enjoyed the regular boat tour July 22nd and were rewarded with absolutely beautiful blue skies. The drive from Jasper to Maligne Lake is over an hour, give yourself plenty of time so that you can stop along the way to check out wildlife and other sights you encounter along the way. We booked the tickets in advance and luckily because by the time we arrived at the lake there was over a 5 hour wait for an available boat. The tour takes about 1.5 hours, a 35 min ride out to the Spirit Island lookout, 15 min or so off the boat to walk the small loop and take pictures, they do not allow access out onto the island, and after boarding another 35 min back to the docks. I recommend sitting out back on the boat if the weather permits there were many great picture opportunities then as well. There also trails around the lake to explore if you arrive early or have to wait for a tour. If you are in Jasper I wouldn't miss this adventure (people in canoes and kayaks also looked to be having an excellent time).

I've only photographed from the Maligne Lake Boathouse but it was incredible. The water was reflection-perfect calm and big clouds hung in the air at sunset. I was surprised no one else was photographing sunset with me. I also spent a day canoeing on the lake and it was amazing; we took the dog and stopped for a picnic along the shore, we saw moose, bald eagle, and even fished some.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Camp at Maligne Lake

Kayak to Spirit Island in the Canadian Rockies

Backpack the Skyline Trail

Fat Bike Maligne Lake Road

Hike the Moose Lake Loop

Hike to Bald Hills