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  • Writer's picturePatrice Gagnon

Most Beautiful Spots for Photography in Maligne Lake

Updated: May 8

What is intriguing about Maligne Lake is the assortment of different photography spots it offers. The photography spots here are iconic, from the Lake itself to the islands and mountains. The stunning landscapes and the awe-inspiring dark sky provide pure beauty and opportunities for unmatched imagery. Whether you are a newbie in the photography world or already a professional, there are unlimited photo opportunities in Maligne Lake. Through the alternatives below, you will get an idea of your next photography expedition.

In short, the most beautiful places in Maligne Lake include Spirit Island, The Historic Boathouse, Valley of the Gods, Opal Hills, Bald Hills, Moose Lake Hike, Mary Schaffer Loop, and the Skyline Trail.

Continue reading this article to find out why these spots are the best, and how to find them.

These are the most beautiful spots in Maligne Lake:

1. Spirit Island

Spirit Island, Maligne Lake
Spirit Island

Spirit Island is THE destination for boat trips across Maligne Lake. However, it is technically not an island. When there are heavy rains during the spring season, the water levels rise high enough to cut the land off, thus creating Spirit Island. Under normal circumstances, it is attached to the shore during the year.

Spirit Island gets its name because it is a very special and important place for the Stoney Nation. For the Stoney Nation, mountains are considered a place where people meet their ancestors, and three mountains surround Spirit Island, thus making it a prime location.

Accessing Spirit Island is a bit difficult because of its geographical location. It is located 14km from the Maligne Lake parking lot and there are no accessible trails to get to Spirit Island. Therefore, you must either visit Spirit Island through a cruise (which will allow you 45 minutes on the island for pictures) or by renting a kayak or canoe from the boathouse. Cruises only run during peak season, so make sure to check the available dates before making your trip to Maligne Lake.

The best time for photography is when the sun moves towards the west, late in the afternoon. With the cliffs present, you can take pictures over the classic view with the island in the foreground or from the viewpoint slightly higher up. The best vantage point for photos is a matter of personal taste.

2. Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods, Maligne Lake
Valley of the Gods

If there is a place in Maligne lake where you can take beautiful landscape images, then it is the Valley of the Gods. It is located right behind Spirit Island (great background for your Spirit Island pictures) and is a beautiful location all on its own. It is a 5-mile-long section that people can and should explore when paddling the famous Maligne Lake.

The Valley of the Gods was named this because the explorer who found these mountains thought that if the gods were to come down from the sky, each of them would have a seat on each of the mountains that dominate the valley's landscape.

3. Historic Boathouse

Historic Boathouse, Maligne Lake
Historic Boathouse

The Historic Boathouse dates from 1928. Its primary purpose is to rent boats, canoes, and kayaks for paddles around Maligne Lake. How will you discover the serenity of Maligne Lake and take in spectacular views from a particular viewpoint? By renting your boat, you can paddle across the famous Maligne Lake to remote shorelines and take shots of the natural beauty that surrounds you. They are usually available the whole day to get the best out of your adventure.

The historic boathouse is also a great photography subject that can be photographed from the Maligne Lake shorelines. With the ice blue water and the unique structure of the boathouse, cool waterscape photos can be taken.

4. Opal Hills

Opal hills offer a little bit of everything, blue skies, dark stormy clouds, and snowstorms in the winter. This 8km loop trail will take you between 3 to 5 hours to complete. It is one of the most rewarding treks in the Rockies and Maligne Lake's best bird-eye views. If you are looking for a short half-day trek with incredible views, then Opal hills should be your number one choice.

The trailhead starts several meters away from the Maligne Lake shores. It is tremendously picturesque and allows you to reconnect with nature as there are beautiful wildflowers there. The first part of the trail goes straight up, which is challenging, but it creates stunning viewpoints offering landscape and wildlife photography opportunities.

The highest point of Opal Hills is 2200 meters above sea level. Also, watch out for bears because they frequently traffic this area, especially at dawn and dusk, always carry bear spray just in case.

5. Bald Hills

Bald Hills, Maligne Lake
Bald Hills (by Jess Wood)

Unlike Opal hills, Bald Hills loop is a long trail that covers 15km and hence may take you 4-6 hours (or maybe more!) to and fro. You will find the loop farthest in the parking lot at the end of the paved road. The views provided by this trail are out of this world. You will see the Maligne Lake and the surrounding peaks in all their glory.

While hiking on the path, the higher mountain summits may creep up on you, especially if you have a fear of heights. Also, since you will pass a deeply remote and forested area, you may be lucky enough to see the Moose. However, there is not much to see apart from the animals while hiking. The biggest reward is found at the end of the trail. Bald hills are an outstanding viewpoint for photographers because of the bird's view of Maligne Lake.

6. Moose Lake Hike

Moose, Moose Lake, Maligne Lake
Moose near Moose Lake

Moose Lake hike trailhead starts near the Bald Hills kiosk. It is a 3.4 km hike, and it takes around 1-2 hours to complete. Being a short trail loop, it is considered family-friendly as well. It winds through the forest where you may be able to spot a Moose if you are lucky. If you want to see Moose, you have to be quiet because Moose get scared easily when they hear noises. You also need to be there at dawn or dusk for better odds to spot one.

The forest provides incredible scenery of nature and water for landscape, water, and rural photography. Also, there is a greater chance of spotting a Moose because they do frequently visit the Moose Lake, making the trail super easy and worth it.

During my visit to Moose Lake, I was lucky enough to see one male and female Moose right at the entrance of the trail. They were using the trees to scratch themselves and did not mind our presence. We remained a safe distance away and quietly observed them making sure to take a few photos in the process.

7. Mary Shaffer Loop

Mary Shaffer Loop, Maligne Lake
Mary Shaffer Loop

If you want to enjoy different views of the great Maligne Lake, then take a relaxing walk along the Mary Shaffer loop. It begins in the parking lot and pursues the verge of the Lake to an outlook before turning inland. You can either walk the whole loop or just up to the viewpoint. You will find the famous Jasper National Park chairs. They are located along the Mary Shaffer Loop. The entire Mary Shaffer loop is around 3km, and it takes from 45 mins to 1hr to cover it. For photographers, beautiful waterscape images can be captured along with animal photos like that of a deer. Apart from that, since it is a great place for snowshoeing during the winter months, you can take some pretty photos of the Canadian white snow as well.

8. The Skyline Trail

Not necessarily just on the "Maligne Lake", the Maligne Lake is an integral part of the Skyline Trail. The trail takes you high above the floor of the Valley. It starts and ends at Maligne Lake. The skyline trail is 48km long. There are six different campsites along the path where you get to rest and spend the night. The popular one is spending nights on the track at Little Shovel, Takara. These campsites need to be booked early. The skyline trail is worth it, especially for photographers, as it provides a chance for a spectacular aerial view of the whole area around Maligne Lake. No aerial photographer can take this chance for granted.

9. Animals

Moose near Maligne Lake
Moose near Maligne Lake

Apart from hiking and beautiful views, animals are also a great center of attraction at Maligne Lake. For instance, Moose on your way to moose lake.

Also, Red Fox can sometimes be seen around the lake area. Seeing the red fox is pure luck. They mostly roam alone and cover a large area. The red fox always goes where it wants to go. It is not predictable like bighorn sheep and elk. The red fox is mainly seen at dawn or dusk. They appear in areas near the parking lot of Maligne Lake.

Also, along the Mary Shaffer loop, beware of deer moving around the famous red chairs. They can spook you and cause discomfort. But on the brighter side, this is a gorgeous opportunity for animal photography.


Before you decide to explore these gorgeous places in Canada, make sure you carry the right equipment needed, from the camera to binoculars. You don't want to miss capturing any adventure. Maligne Lake is a highlight of Jasper as it has different activities and places to visit. From the famous Spirit Island, a relaxing space for waffles to the treacherous skyline trail. Trust me, Maligne Lake has it all for photographers. The beauty presents every creative photographer with the opportunity to take captivating photos. It is up to you to discover how to capture every scene and make a difference in building your photography career.

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