Maligne Lake, Canyon and Bears!

If you go down to the woods today, You’re sure of a big surprise

If you go down to the woods today, You’d better go in disguise

For ev’ry bear that ever there was will gather there for certain because

Today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic

Yes. You guessed it, today was the day that the bears came out to play!!! Well, to be honest we did spot a bear by the side of the highway but barely caught a glimpse as we drove past. There was a women who had got out of her car on a 120km per hour piece of road and was following a bear!!! Crazy!!

We had tried and failed with the Bow Valley Parkway (somewhere animals are often seen and is recommended for bear sightings) to “run” into a bear so had lost hope we would ever get to see one. In spite of that we headed off to Maligne Lake which was on my must see list. The lake is home to Spirit Island which is one of the most photographed islands – google it!! On our boat tour the guide explained it became popular after a photographer won a Kodak competition, since then thousands of people have flocked to get the same iconic shot.

What makes it so beautiful is the Elizabeth Mountain Range behind it, named after Queen Elizabeth II – despite the fact she has never visited!!!!!

Anyway, as we were driving down to the lake, which takes longer than you think, we passed some amazing scenery and signs of the canyon we were going to check out later and then there it was on the side of the road, a BEAR!!!!! It was pretty easy to spot as there were loads of cars pulled over taking pictures, even so we got a good look before leaving him/her in peace and heading onto the lake. Spoiler – that wasn’t the only bear we saw today!

We arrived at Maligne Lake around lunch time so grabbed a snack from their on site restaurant, which wasn’t too badly priced, and sat on their decking looking over the lake. We had amazing weather and it was an awesome view.

We then headed over to our booked boat tour on the lake out to Spirit Island. The place was covered in midges. We didn’t have too many problems with insects but they were prolific on the shore line, once the boat moved away it was much better. The boat trip takes about 30 minutes to get to Spirit Island and the guide pointed out things to note, like glacial run off coming into the river and explained how no-one knows why Spirit Island is called Spirit Island. Odd.

Most boat tours you just get to experience lakes from the water but on this one we docked at Spirit Island and were able to spend 20 minutes taking pictures and enjoying the superb view! The water wasn’t as high when we were there so it was still a bit attached to the land but even so it was beautiful. I will let the pictures do the talking.

Once we had arrived back at shore we took a quick walk to a viewpoint before heading to Maligne Canyon. The whole place was pretty peaceful even if it was a tad busy. I can imagine in the height of summer it’s packed. In the winter however the lake freezes and the road closes, a pretty stark contrast! I would love to do this trip again in the winter and see how different it is.

On our drive to the canyon we saw a BEAR IN A TREE!!! Actually a mother and a baby bear. Pretty cool.

Maligne Canyon is split up by a series of bridges – 1 to 6. There are a few places you can stop at along the way in the car or you can hike the whole 6 bridges which takes about 2 hours each way. We chose to hike from bridge 1 down to bridge 4 or 5 from memory. As is pretty much all of Canada it’s a beautiful canyon and a nice walk. It is quite steep and going back up is hard going (well it is if you’re me) but you’re rewarded with some great views.

Edit 30/10/2016 – I think I have missed out a day from our memory as there was a morning spent at a Launderette which hasn’t been accounted for. What I now think we did was, Maligne Lake, Spirit Island and Maligne Canyon one day with a trip to Jasper town in the evening enjoying some beer and hockey. The next day we spent the morning doing some washing and then visited Miette Hot Springs in the afternoon.

Extra info: We spent the morning in Jasper Town at a Launderette-cum-cafe doing some much needed washing (all our clothes smelt like camp fire smoke) and using the wifi to sort of catch up on what had been happening…which was nothing of importance. A couple of hours and some good coffee, I could quite happily travel round doing my washing just like that forever.

Original content: In the afternoon we decided we would treat ourselves with a trip to Miette hot springs to chill out after an action packed day. It was a stunning location but as seems to be a theme we didn’t get any pictures, which is mainly because we really like to chill out. It was hot both in the sun and the pools but there were a couple of cold pools as well….which were…well…FREEZING! After an hour or so of soaking a coach load of kids turned up so we decided to call it a day and head back to camp.

We also took a quick walk to the source of the hot spring water, which I would recommend doing if you’re there.

On the way back we were treated with the best view of two bears that we had that day and were thoroughly blown away. There was only us and one other car allowing us a bit more time to watch the cub play while mum fed. It was an incredible experience to see such majestic animals just chilling at the side of the road.

It was one of my favourite experiences I’ve had on all my travels and probably always will be.