HomeRoadtripFull Information with Map, Paddling Particulars, Boat Tour + Extra

Full Information with Map, Paddling Particulars, Boat Tour + Extra


Spirit Island; a reputation as fascinating because the vacation spot itself. Located in the course of a turquoise-coloured lake, this tiny island is surrounded by big snow-capped mountains on three sides.

Solely accessible by water, Spirit Island is among the most original locations to see in your complete Canadian Rockies.

Elevated view looking down on canoeist on calm Maligne Lake, approaching peninsula with scattered trees, with background of huge mountains
Spirit Island

This publish explains precisely the right way to go to Spirit Island in Jasper Nationwide Park, with an in depth information to every of the most well-liked strategies.

Having explored Spirit Island by boat tour and canoe inside the previous few years, I can share first-hand data and likewise straight examine the other ways.

Right here’s what to anticipate:

Irrespective of the way you journey to Spirit Island, that is one place you received’t quickly overlook!

Earlier than visiting Maligne Lake (and Jasper Nationwide Park basically), please get accustomed to the rules of Depart No Hint. Keep on designated trails, pack out the whole lot you carry with you and don’t method/feed wildlife.

Revealed March 2024. This publish comprises affiliate hyperlinks. In case you make a purchase order through one in every of these hyperlinks, we could obtain a share of the sale at no different price to you.

Spirit Island seen through the trees and down staircase at sunset
Stairs resulting in the lakeshore at Spirit Island

What’s Spirit Island?

Spirit Island is a tiny island on Maligne Lake, surrounded by magnificent mountain peaks and glaciers on three sides (a rarity). It’s the focus of one in every of Canada’s most iconic views.

Technically, Spirit Island is what is called a tied island, in that it’s related to the shore by a spit of land.

Spirit Island is a spot of nice non secular significance for native Indigenous individuals. The Stoney Nakoda contemplate mountains to be bodily representations of their ancestors. The unique title for the lake was ‘Chaba Imne’ (Beaver Lake).

Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris painted the basic Spirit Island scene in 1924, after spending a summer time sketching and tenting on the finish of the lake.

Canoe on shore near Spirit Island with sunset colours on background mountains, lake reflections
Spirit Island viewpoint (Spirit Island itself is off-camera to the suitable)

The recognition of this stunning scene was additional elevated when Kodak included a photograph of Spirit Island taken by Peter Gales in a showcase displayed in New York Metropolis within the Sixties.

Spirit Island is simply accessible by water, particularly by canoe, kayak, boat tour and electrical boat.

It isn’t permitted to stroll or method Spirit Island, because of its non secular significance and delicate ecosystem.

The long-lasting Spirit Island view is seen from an elevated viewpoint, accessed by a simple quick path from the boat dock.

View of Spirit Island in autumn with orange coloured foliage on peninsula leading to tiny forested island, with snow caped mountains in background
Spirit Island in autumn

The place is Spirit Island?

Spirit Island is situated simply over midway down Maligne Lake in Jasper Nationwide Park, Canada.

At 22.5km, Maligne Lake is the longest pure lake within the Canadian Rockies. Spirit Island is 14km from the northwestern lakeshore, the one road-accessible space.

One of the photographed locations in Canada, glacier-fed Maligne Lake is visited by hundreds of thousands of individuals every year.

Mendacity in a glacier-carved valley and situated at 1670m elevation, the lake is surrounded by big granite peaks. The best mountains are on the southern finish, offering the proper backdrop when travelling to Spirit Island.

Maligne Lake’s water color adjustments as you journey alongside it, changing into extra turquoise due to the presence of rock flour from the glaciers.

Jasper Nationwide Park is situated in Treaty 6 and Treaty 8 in addition to the standard lands of the Beaver, Cree, Ojibway, Secwépemc, Stoney, and Métis.

Guests to Jasper Nationwide Park should have a legitimate Park Go. In case you are visiting Canada’s nationwide parks for seven days or longer, it might be worthwhile to get a Discovery Go (annual go) as an alternative.

Spirit Island map

Screenshot of Maligne Lake on Google Maps
Spirit Island and Maligne Lake on Google Maps

Find out how to entry Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake is located on the finish of the 43km lengthy Maligne Lake Highway.

This winding two-lane (one in every course) street takes round 45 minutes to drive from Jasper, as there’s a 60km/h pace restrict.

Wildlife sightings are pretty widespread on the journey – we have now personally seen black bears, herds of elk and massive horn sheep in addition to a fox.

There isn’t a public transport to Maligne Lake. There’s a each day shuttle service from Jasper, primarily aimed toward Skyline Path hikers.

Guided excursions from Jasper are additionally out there, like this 6 hour one that features a Maligne Lake boat tour (with cease at Spirit Island) and a cease at Maligne Canyon.

Canoe on shore with Spirit Island and huge mountain views in background
Touchdown near Spirit Island in a canoe

Find out how to attain Spirit Island

Positioned simply greater than half means down Maligne Lake, Spirit Island is simply accessible by water.

There are two methods to achieve Spirit Island:

  • By kayak, canoe or electrical boat
  • On a guided boat tour (Maligne Lake Cruise)

There isn’t a different solution to see Spirit Island than these two strategies (besides when you’ve got the funds to constitution a helicopter for a flyover, however let’s assume not!)

I’ve visited Spirit Island by each boat tour and canoe, with the latter a part of a four-day Maligne Lake paddling journey.

Side profile of Maligne Lake tour boat on left with mountainous views behind
Spirit Island tour boat

The Spirit Island viewpoint

The long-lasting Spirit Island vista is seen from an elevated viewpoint space on land. As talked about above, it isn’t potential to stroll on or method Spirit Island itself.

The point of view is accessed by a brief loop path that begins and ends on the massive floating dock space. The whole path is 250m lengthy (round 4 minutes stroll with out stopping).

Most individuals stroll the loop counter-clockwise, additionally the shortest route from the dock to the point of view. The trail is barely uphill with some massive steps.

On the opposite aspect of the primary viewpoint is a slender set of stairs (with rails on each side) that lead all the way down to the lakeshore. The flat lakeshore path passes Spirit Island and returns to the dock.

Back view of JR looking at Spirit Island, a tiny peninsula in front of mountain views
The long-lasting Spirit Island viewpoint

Paddling to Spirit Island

Paddling to Spirit Island is each an adventurous and blissful expertise. The quiet of the lake (cruise boats apart), the ripples on the water, the mountains hovering above the turquoise floor. It is usually probably the most environmentally pleasant possibility!

Not like tour boat guests, paddlers can spend limitless time at Spirit Island throughout the day and night (tenting is prohibited).

Sundown and dawn are notably magical at Spirit Island. We’ve watched each whereas being utterly alone.

Spirit Island is located 14km from the Maligne Lake public boat dock (Residence Bay).

It’s potential to paddle to Spirit Island in sooner or later or as a part of a multi-day paddling journey.

Shore photo of yellow canoe heading towards Spirit Island, with calm water and snow capped mountains behind
Canoe heading in the direction of Spirit Island

Spirit Island day journey by canoe

Paddling on to Spirit Island (with no stops) takes round 4 hours.

Relying in your paddling expertise and the climate, your precise time could take just a little extra or rather less. Wind and waves can considerably sluggish progress.

We’ve got paddled to Spirit Island in just below three hours earlier than, nevertheless it was very early (the lake was calm) and we canoe lengthy distances repeatedly.

For most individuals, a one-day paddling journey to Spirit Island takes round 8 to 10 hours.

Even for skilled paddlers, 28km and 8-10 hours is a fairly lengthy paddling day. And that’s with out troublesome climate situations factored in. Maligne Lake is thought to be a windy lake.

One other draw back is that Spirit Island will nonetheless be busy (until you begin paddling very early). The boat excursions normally function between 9am and 6.30pm.

Sunset at Spirit Island, a small forested peninsula in front of a beautiful mountain and lake scene
Spirit Island at sundown

Wild Present Outfitters shops rental canoes on the boat launch. Canoe leases have to be organised prematurely, with equipment out there for pick-up in Jasper. The precise canoes are secured with mixture locks.

If the day journey expertise sounds too bold for you, I might suggest visiting Spirit Island as a part of a multi-day paddling journey as an alternative.

Staying in a single day signifies that you don’t should paddle to and from Spirit Island in sooner or later. For novice paddlers, that is more likely to be a a lot safer (and extra enjoyable) possibility.

Electrical boats are allowed for use on Maligne Lake. I received’t discuss a lot about this selection as most non-local guests won’t have entry to a ship. Gasoline-powered motor boats usually are not permitted.

Canoe rests on shore at Fisherman's Bay beach in front of snow capped mountains and glaciers
Paddling to Spirit Island means you will have the liberty to cease any time you want and take within the views!

Multi-day canoe journeys to Spirit Island

Whereas it isn’t potential to remain in a single day on or round Spirit Island, there are three backcountry campgrounds situated on the shores of Maligne Lake.

Distance from Maligne Lake public boat dock (Residence Bay)Distance from Spirit Island
Hidden Cove Campground3.5km10.5km
Fisherman’s Bay Campground13km1km
Coronet Creek Campground21.3km1km

Fisherman’s Bay is the closest campground to Spirit Island, a brief 15-20 minute paddle away. This makes it straightforward to look at dawn or sundown at Spirit Island with out having to paddle too far at the hours of darkness.

Even when Spirit Island is your primary purpose to go on a Maligne Lake paddle journey, I’d nonetheless suggest planning a two-night journey.

One of the best surroundings is discovered in the direction of the tip of the lake (in the direction of Coronet Creek) and an extended journey provides the possibility to discover this space. It additionally means you’ll have two alternatives to look at sundown and dawn.

Canoe view of calm paddling conditions on Maligne Lake, with mountains in background
Paddling in the direction of Spirit Island at dawn

Reservations are required for all three Maligne Lake campgrounds. It isn’t potential to simply flip up (and tenting exterior of the campgrounds isn’t permitted both).

The Parks Canada reservation system opens in January/February every year and availability sells out shortly. The launch date is normally introduced in December.

Rental canoes may be organised by way of Wild Present Outfitters. Tenting tools (tents, sleeping mats, stoves) may be rented at Jasper Supply for Sports activities.

For extra details about multi-day paddling journeys, head to our detailed Maligne Lake tenting information. It contains itinerary strategies, reservation suggestions and kit suggestions.

Set up tent and tarp on dirt tend pat, with scattered trees and mountain views in background
Fisherman’s Bay Campground on Maligne Lake (15-20 minutes paddle from Spirit Island)

Spirit Island paddling suggestions

  • Begin early! Maligne Lake is calmest earlier than 9am. In case you’re planning to paddle to and from Spirit Island in sooner or later, I’d recommend beginning at 8am or earlier
  • One of the best months for a Maligne Lake canoe journey are July and August. These months provide the warmest climate situations and the least probability of rain or snow. The lake is normally frozen from November to early June
  • Maligne Lake is a really chilly lake. Even in summer time, the water temperature is a cold 4°C (39.2°F)
  • Put on layers and produce clothes appropriate for each heat and chilly climate. We skilled temperatures starting from -6°C to +22°C (21°F to 71°F) throughout our mid-August journey!
  • Paddle near shore and put on a PDF (life jacket) always – it might save your life within the occasion of a capsize
  • The climate can change in a short time at this elevation. Wind, rain, snow and hail are all the time potential, even when the climate appears high-quality whenever you set out
  • Control the sky whereas paddling. If it appears like dangerous climate is coming in, paddle nearer to shore and contemplate getting off the lake
  • Cross the lake provided that it’s worthwhile to and if the situations are beneficial. The narrowest a part of the lake is near Fisherman’s Bay and Spirit Island
  • Don’t cross in entrance of the Spirit Island boats – it’s pointless and there’s a probability that they could not see you
  • Count on some wake (waves) from the Spirit Island tour boats. Whereas they do decelerate for paddlers, look out for the wake and place your boat to hit the waves head-on if you happen to can
Mirror like reflections on Maligne Lake, with large misty mountains in background
Simply a number of the views on Maligne Lake previous Spirit Island (see our Maligne Lake publish for extra)

Spirit Island boat excursions

The simplest (and hottest) solution to go to Spirit Island is by tour boat.

Pursuit operates Maligne Lake Cruise from late Might to early October.

There are as much as 14 each day departures throughout the summer time months. Boat excursions normally run between 9am and 6.30pm.

Two cruises can be found:

  • Traditional Cruise – 1.5 hours (as much as 13 instances each day), $82/grownup
  • Premium Cruise – 2 hours (as soon as each day), $109/grownup

The Traditional Cruise consists of a direct boat trip to the Spirit Island dock, quarter-hour on the viewpoint after which a direct journey again.

Whereas quarter-hour doesn’t sound like a variety of time, it is sufficient to stroll the path loop, take loads of pictures and admire the view.

The Premium Cruise takes place within the late afternoon. Some individuals say that this time of day has the perfect mild whereas Pursuit hints that wildlife alternatives are extra possible.

The longer cruise spends half-hour on the viewpoint space and an extended boat trip (with a floating cease at Pincushion Bay).

Two blue and white Spirit Island boat tour boats parked at floating dock at northern end of Maligne Lake, with snow capped mountains visible behind
Maligne Lake Cruise boats ready on the floating dock

The Spirit Island cruise expertise

I might suggest reserving a cruise prematurely to keep away from disappointment.

I booked two weeks forward of our late September journey and about half of the scheduled departures had been already bought out.

Plan to reach half-hour earlier than your reserved departure time. The car parking zone is about 5 minutes stroll from the primary dock.

Please notice that there are not any washrooms at Spirit Island, so use the amenities on land earlier than becoming a member of the road.

Looking ahead to backs of seated passengers, all looking left at the mountainous scenery outside
Maligne Lake Cruise boat inside

Cruise excursions embody an interpretive information, who narrates the surroundings on the way in which there and again. They permit time for questions on the return journey.

The boats maintain round 40 individuals, normally an excellent mixture of households and {couples} of all ages. There are leather-based bench seats and huge home windows however friends can stroll to the open again deck and take within the views from there as effectively.

In case you select to do the latter, needless to say there’s room to face solely and there isn’t a lot to carry onto. Wake from the opposite boats can smash into the aspect of the boat fairly strongly.

The boat schedule is timed in such a means that when one boat arrives at Spirit Island, one other is normally nearly to go away.

Floating boat dock at Spirit Island and turquoise coloured lake surface with mountains behind
Spirit Island boat dock (notice the steps resulting in the point of view on the right-hand aspect)

Spirit Island: Boat cruise vs. paddling

After all, as an advocate of paddling and outside journey, I’ll all the time say that canoeing to Spirit Island is probably the most scenic and memorable expertise.

That is very true if you wish to see Spirit Island throughout dawn, sundown or with out boatloads of vacationers hovering.

Visiting Spirit Island with nobody else round is admittedly fairly a magical factor. A lot of the pictures included on this publish had been taken on our canoe journey.

Spirit Island dock on right with reflective lake views, huge mountains above and on the lake surface
Taking within the morning views from the (empty) boat dock at Spirit Island

However if you happen to solely have a few hours to spend within the Maligne Lake space or don’t have the flexibility to paddle a canoe to Spirit Island, the boat cruise is the way in which to go.

Whereas I do perceive the environmental issues (noise, water air pollution) surrounding the cruise boats, I additionally respect that the service supplies accessibility to individuals who wouldn’t have the ability to see Spirit Island in any other case. I took the boat tour with my mother and father.

Sunset at Spirit Island, a small forested peninsula in front of a beautiful mountain and lake scene
Spirit Island sundown

And in my thoughts, the boat tour is a greater various to a street. Maybe an enchancment can be fewer boat departures and extra time spent at Spirit Island.

Pondering past the time restriction subject and common crowdedness, one other vital drawback of the boat excursions is that they solely provide a glimpse of the magnificent surroundings on Maligne Lake.

One of the best views begin round Spirit Island and get even higher additional down. On the constructive aspect, which means the southern finish of the lake is extra peaceable for paddlers.

JR paddles away from the camera towards snow capped mountains on Maligne Lake
Paddling Maligne Lake

The place to remain in Jasper

I’d suggest spending no less than two nights in Banff. In that point, you’ll have the ability to see a number of the park’s most spectacular sights and likewise benefit from the appeal of the compact townsite. After all, three or 4 nights can be even higher!

Price range

Campers have a alternative of campgrounds in Jasper – we normally keep at Whistlers Campground, which was utterly renovated a number of years in the past

Mid-range

The Mount Robson Inn is a stable downtown lodging choose, with free breakfast and a variety of room configurations (nice for households/bigger teams)

Luxurious

Deal with your self to a keep on the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. The upscale resort is situated on a 700-acre lakeside property with a spa, heated pool, golf course and eating places

Wooden bridge with fence leading onto small island on Pyramid Lake with collection of trees. A mountauin rises above the island in the background. The trees are highlighted with golden autumnal colours
Pyramid Lake close to Jasper

Different posts you might discover useful:

Maligne Lake: Full Tenting and Paddling Information

Final 2 Week Western Canada Highway Journey from Vancouver: Itinerary, Ideas & Map

Canadian Rockies Highway Journey Loop: Detailed 9 to 12 day Itineraries + Map

12 of the Finest Wells Grey Waterfalls: Journey Planning Information + Map

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