Carved out of the limestone bedrock by a rushing river, this narrow and steep canyon—which reaches depths of up to 160 feet (50 meters)—is one of the most striking geological features of Jasper National Park. In summer, hikers flock here to follow trails that span the gorge, while in winter, the canyon freezes into an icy wonderland.
During summer, Maligne Canyon is a popular hiking spot. Trails lead to footbridges that span the deepest sections of the canyon and offer views of waterfalls, fossils, and rock formations. Many guided summertime tours from Jasper make stops at the canyon, allowing visitors to explore independently or with a guide. Half-day and full-day summer tours often combine Maligne Canyon with other Canadian Rockies highlights, such as Medicine Lake, Maligne Lake, Athabasca Falls, and Miette Hot Springs.
In winter, Maligne Canyon ice-climbing tours and ice walks are scheduled, allowing visitors to tread—usually with waterproof winter boots and ice cleats—along the icy surface of the canyon floor, seeing frozen waterfalls, ice caves, and icicles.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Maligne Canyon is a must for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers.
- Though the hiking trails at Maligne Canyon are not wheelchair accessible, the Maligne Canyon Restaurant and Gift Shop (open May–October) is. An asphalt path near the restaurant leads to an accessible viewpoint.
- The smooth bedrock of the canyon can be slippery, so wear appropriate footwear.
How to Get There
Maligne Canyon is situated in Jasper National Park, in Alberta, Western Canada. From the town of Jasper, follow Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) north and take the turnoff for Maligne Lake Road. The drive should take 15–20 minutes.
When to Get There
Maligne Canyon is busiest in summer. For a quieter experience, go in the off-season (mid-fall through late spring). In summer, you can avoid throngs of sightseers by hiking as far as the fifth or sixth canyon bridge, where crowds typically dissipate. Alternatively, set off early in the morning before most people arrive.
Hiking Trails at Maligne Canyon
Maligne Canyon is a hiking hot spot, with routes to suit all schedules and fitness levels. From the upper canyon parking lot, follow a short (20- to 40-minute) route that crosses over the first and second bridges. Longer hikes leading through the lower canyon, and to the other bridges, are also possible. Interpretive signs around the canyon explain the geology of the area. If you want to explore the canyon floor, be sure to go with a guide who can ensure conditions are safe.