Monday, March 8, 2010

Wicked But Stunning (Jasper National Park, Canada)

The tiny township of Jasper in the north of Alberta, Canada is the ideal base for a number of day trips into the travel wonder of Jasper National Park. One of the highlights is a trip along Maligne Lake Road that tracks for around fifty kilometres finishing at the namesake lake.

Only a few kilometres outside of Jasper, Maligne Canyon is deep and narrow with heavy stratified sides. While busy near the entrance, the numbers soon drop away as a superb hike meanders along the top of the canyon criss-crossing from side to side across six narrow bridges. Waterfalls tumble and the water gushes in parts giving some clue as to the savage erosion that has left a canyon over 50 metres deep in parts yet only a few metres across.

The limestone rock gives rise to a remarkable geological history that includes the area being a tropical sea many millions of years ago. Indeed, the name maligne granted to a river, lake and canyon comes from a French missionary who used the French word for wicked in describing the rushing river and the difficulty in crossing this natural barrier.

Nearby is the picturesque Medicine Lake, a spiritual place for the Indians. This remarkable lake has no river outlet and is only present in the warmer months. With only a small drainage hole beneath the surface, the volume of melting snow and ice over spring and summer overwhelms the drainage filling the lake and reflecting the beautiful surrounding mountain vista. As the water flows slow into autumn, the drainage catches up until the lake disappears over the colder months. This natural phenomenon mystified the local Indian tribes giving rise to spiritual stories and its modern name.

The road follows the rapid currents of the icy blue-green Maligne River coming to an end at Maligne Lake. Small boats with narrative ply the long narrow glacial lake travelling two-third of its length to tiny Spirit Island. Flanked by towering mountains, trickling waterfalls and meandering glaciers, this pleasant water cruise unveils stunning alpine views.

The area is rich in wildlife. On my visit, black bears, mule deer, elk, bald eagles and small squirrels were all spotted along the road or at the lake.

The travel wonder of Jasper National Park is quieter than neighbouring Banff National Park and contains stunning views of the Rockies, glorious turquoise lakes, gushing waterfalls from the glacial melt and enthralling wildlife. No road summarises the natural beauty of the area than a trip along Maligne Lake Road.

Other Canada Posts
The Twenty Dollar View (Lake Louise)
Polar Bear Splendour (Churchill)
Beyond the Bears (Churchill)
The Spiritual Medicine Lake (Jasper)
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel (Banff)
Johnston Canyon


Sherry Ott said...

Stunning landscapes! I've only been to Vancouver in Canada, but have always wanted to go check out the parks in other areas. It looks like the trails with the waterfalls and bridges would be fun!

virginia bed and breakfast said...

The Jasper National park is an excellent place to visit. It has tremendous attractions and views. The river is so beautiful and enchanting.

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Brian said...

I like it, hope to get up there this summer.

Travelling Rants said...

Mark really beautiful place along with nice write up..

and yes must say shots are really awesome

i am following you have subscribed your blog..
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BarbaraW said...

Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! I was there a few years ago but never saw the places you went. Makes me want to go back.

Donna Hull said...

Jasper is one of my favorite destinations. On my two trips, I never made it on the hike you described. I need to remedy that. Have you stayed at Jasper Lake Lodge

Mark H said...

@sherry: There are some excellent walkign trails in Jasper National Park to suit both short walks and some more strenuous ones.

@virginia B&B: Nice advert with your comment!!

@brian: I hope so too.

Mark H said...

@travelling rants: I've subscribed back to your blog.

@BarbaraW: Thank you. I'm confident you'll get another opportuntity to get to the Rockies.

@donna: We stayed in a rental house near the middle of the town. Worked out well as we were there for five days doing day trips out from there.

mike said...

I've only been to Canada twice and I've never seen anything like that. Have to add this to my ever expanding must see list.

Mark H said...

@mike: Make an effort to get to Jasper and explore the Maligne Road, along with Mt Edith Cavell and the hot baths at Miette. Jasper is a treasure trove of great sights and wildlife seemed to abound as well.

Michael said...

Jasper is stunning. From the small town you can head in any direction (walking preferably) and you will not be disappointed by the natural landscapes. Forests, meadows and amazing blue-green colored lakes abound.

Mark H said...

@michael: I liked that aspect of Jasper as well. A great walking area and some great drives to see wildlife.

Anonymous said...

Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

Mark H said...

@anonymous: Thank you - Google search is one of those little mysteries...

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