Maligne Canyon – Exploring the Ice

Maligne Canyon

Walking on the ice and exploring frozen waterfalls, ice caves and rocks made for one of my favourite adventures in Jasper. It happened at Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park.

We had ice and water trickling around us after a fifteen minutes walk from the parking lot. The canyon is the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park, with a depth of 50 m at one point. It seems higher when looking up as you are surrounded by rock and ice.

I visited in February when the weather was warmer. I lucked out and it was just above freezing, which made it slightly slushy but not too cold. The scenery changes every year as the ice forms differently. The water level was lower this year and the formations will depends on the water level, run off, when the water freezes and the weather Jasper receives.

My favourite parts were walking around touching the ice, admiring the formations and learning more about the canyon. I haven’t seen a site like this before and picturing the water rushing down and swirling around, made it more powerful.

At one part, I was able to slide down into an ice cave and see the ice from below, hearing the water dripping and having ice surrounded me. I could have spent longer in the cave but wanted to give others a chance to experience it. We couldn’t get out on our own and Joe (our guide) helped by pulling us out. I’ve only experienced ice from above and getting to experience it like this was a highlight.

Maligne Canyon – Ice Cave from Megan on Vimeo.

We had plenty of time to walk around, take photos and enjoy. There is usually a spot where you can take a drink of water from below the ice but this year, there wasn’t any water there so we didn’t get to sample the cold, mountain water from that spot. This was caused due to lower water levels but hopefully next year, it will be there.

Before booking, I checked out all the options for Maligne Canyon tour and decided to book with Joe Urie, owner of Jasper Tour Company. He owns his own company and was a great guide. He provides boots, ice cleats and a great time. He went above and beyond to give me some tips and suggestions for things to do in Jasper. Joe suggested a walk that I did after the tour, quick e-mail response time and runs small group tours (there were only five us on the tour). The benefit to the small group is being able to ask questions, not be rushed due to the size of the group, explore more space and in our case, try the climbers way up since we were a more active group. You can see his passion with his stories and enthusiasm. Besides the ice canyon walk he runs other tours but I was only able to go on this one due to lack of time in Jasper. The Jasper Tour Company can easily accommodate different physical abilities and ages.

While we were there, ice climbers were climbing on the frozen waterfalls. We carefully walked around them after giving them a heads up that we were below, watch out for falling ice. Maybe next time I’ll try that for a new winter sport.

I already want to go back and spend more time here. It’s recommended you book a guide, unless experienced. I would listen to the advice and besides the safety, you would miss out on the education and stories.

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No compensation was given for my experience at Maligne Canyon,  full price was paid including tip. It was worth every dollar.

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4 thoughts on “Maligne Canyon – Exploring the Ice

  1. Very cool…love your photos. I had to read it twice when you said it was warmer in Feb! Funny how the weather can change! We were in Montreal in Feb and it was freezing – then a major blizzard. A friend went the following weekend to perfect weather!
    Ice climbing sounds cool…have heard of it but yet to try it. Happy travels.

  2. Thank you! I lucked out with the weather there, it was sunny with above average temperatures. Nothing could have kept me from exploring but the nice weather does help and you don’t need as many layers.

    I was in Montreal during a blizzard the last time I was there, at night some of the streets were empty and all the walkers were walking on the road to our destinations. It’s funny how one week can be sunny and beautiful and the next snowy and cold.

    Happy travels too!

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