Guest Author - Ann Carroll Burgess
Spirit Island, situated in the Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, is the forefront of one of the areas most iconic photos. This snippet of an island, surrounded by glacier blue waters and backed by majestic mountains is the essence of Alberta's Rocky Mountain grandeur and should hang on every interior office wall just to provide a brief, imaginary getaway.
Better yet is to visit in person. Maligne Lake, along with pristine natural beauty Spirit Island, is not only the oldest attraction in Jasper Park but also the largest lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Situated a short 40 km southeast of Jasper townsite it is an easily reached destination.
One of the easiest and most peaceful ways to tour Maligne Lake, and Spirit Island, is via the glass-enclosed, and heated, tour boats that operate several times daily during the summer and early autumn seasons. The season begins with “ice out,” meaning it could be in May or perhaps June before the lake is navigable.
Spirit Island is one of the smallest bits of Jasper National Park. The park encompasses a huge domain in Alberta and within its boundaries are Maligne Lake, the Columbia Icefields, the Athabasca Glacier and Sunwapta Falls. This is the domain of elk, grizzly bears, bighorn sheep and elusive mountain goats.
But this diminutive and peaceful bit of real estate seems to encompass almost all the beauty of the park in an encapsulated version. If you had time for only one adventure in Jasper National Park, the Spirit Island boat cruise would whisk you away to revel in the beauty of the park’s mountains and lakes.
One glimpse will not be enough. Perhaps you will stay and linger, as did Philadelphia explorer Mary Schaeffer. This renowned explorer set off in 1907 to find a lake known by the Stoney Indians as the Chaba Imne. She travelled through Maligne Pass following a hand made map to find this lake which she later renamed Maligne Lake.
Don’t stop with just the lake! The Jasper Townsite and National Park are well worth exploring for as long as your time and budget will stretch. You’ll find a wide range of accommodations available to suit every budget from the ultimate in rustic, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge to tenting campgrounds, Jasper has it all.
The sweetest surprise of the Jasper townsite are the numerous shops selling confectionaries of all types, sizes and ingredients. You’ll need more than one hike to walk off the delights of the Bear Paw’s Bakery to the Candy Bears Lair you’ll find more than enough sugar to keep you on a rocky mountain sugar high.
For more information: www.travelalberta.com