Maligne Lake vs. Lake Louise: Which Lake Should I Visit?


It’s time to plan your next vacation in the great outdoors, and you’re narrowing it down to two choices. Now you ask yourself: Maligne Lake vs. Lake Louise: Which should I visit? While both offer scenes of beautiful turquoise waters set against a backdrop of majestic mountain ranges, they can provide very different experiences depending on the kind of trip you’re looking for.

Maligne Lake is a better destination for campers and those who love the outdoors, with a massive lake, miles of scenic trails, waterfalls, and sweeping vistas to explore and discover. Lake Louise is better for a relaxing vacation, with its luxurious hotels, wildlife museum, and high-end ski resort.

This article will examine the features and highlights of both lakes. I will discuss what makes them great and give you the chance to make your own decision. Will we make the same choice?

Maligne Lake or Lake Louise: Comparison

What do you want out of your vacation? The best way to know where to go is to understand what you want to do when you get there. Let’s see what each lake has to offer.

What Draws People?

Attractions of Maligne Lake

Located inside Jasper National Park, Maligne Lake rests in the shadow of half a dozen beautiful mountains that offer breathtaking views along their miles of hiking trails. It also provides a clear view of the three glaciers that source their water. Clean and startlingly blue, the water gets its color from rock flour that is ground up beneath the glaciers. 

Spirit Island, in the heart of the lake, is famous in its own right. Pictures of the island are featured in National Geographic, Canadian travel marketing, and even the Eastman Museum, where it is part of the Kodak Colorama gallery. For many, a chance to visit Spirit Island is worth the trip on its own.

Attractions of Lake Louise

Lake Louise is a small town in Banff national park, tucked away in an evergreen forest and surrounded by tall mountains; it is overseen by the luxurious Fairmont Chateau. The five-star hotel and resort offers a beautiful scenic view over the water, an elegant spa, and even has a shuttle to the Lake Louise Ski Resort.

If you want to see the wild locals, you can visit the Wildlife Interpretive Center, a small museum at the top of the ski resort that showcases the many animals native to the area. In the summer, you can glide over the landscape in comfort with the resort’s summer gondola, often catching a glimpse of moose and bears from the safety of your perch.

What Can You Do?

Things to Do at Maligne Lake

  • Take a Cruise. Maligne Lake is a massive fourteen-mile body of water, and the Maligne Lake Cruise allows you to take in that natural splendor. With a stop at Spirit Island, you and your family can enjoy unforgettable sights without the effort of having to paddle there yourself.
  • Kayaking. Assuming you don’t have small children and aren’t shy about a challenge, you can take on the lake yourself by paddling across its waters. With the ability to enjoy the scenery and Spirit Island at your own pace, you have the added benefit of ranging out well beyond where the cruise would take you and can enjoy views you would never see otherwise.
  • Hiking. A perk of being surrounded by mountain ranges is the wealth of hiking trails. You’ll find easy strolls like the Mary Schaffer Loop at just two miles and grueling challenges like the multi-day Skyline Trail at over twenty-seven. There is a path for every age and skill level.
  • Sightseeing. A trip wouldn’t be complete without heading through places like Maligne Canyon. A fifty-meter deep crevice, the canyon spans several picturesque trails and beautiful waterfalls across its six bridges. It attracts hikers the world over, and in winter, the adventurous can take their chances at the bottom of the ravine where the water has frozen over, and they can enjoy views few ever get to see.

Things to Do at Lake Louise

  • Skiing. Considered among the best family ski resorts in the world, the Lake Louise Ski Resort is a treat for yourself or the whole family. Featuring slopes that run from beginner to difficult grades, you will find what you’re looking for, whether it’s family fun or a genuine challenge.
  • Skating. Gliding across Lake Louise’s frozen turquoise surface with the surrounding mountains reflected in the ice is an altogether different experience than visiting an ice rink, and it’s one you won’t soon forget.
  • A day at the spa. Bask in a hot tub as you look out across snow-capped mountains. Return from your adventures in nature to relax with a professional massage. The Fairmont Chateau offers all the amenities you could want right where you want them in this natural paradise.
  • Visit the Museum. Learn about the natives at the Wildlife Interpretive Center, where the animals that call these mountains home are on full display. The natural museum is a great place to introduce your children to Mountain Lions, Bears, and Moose without trying to spot one along the hiking trails.

Where Will You Stay?

Where and how long you plan to stay are essential parts of your visit to Maligne Lake or Lake Louise. They will also have a significant impact on how much you’ll spend on your trip and the kind of experiences you’ll enjoy while you are there. While this is certainly not comprehensive, I’ve made a short list of nearby hotels that will have just what you need.

Hotels Near Maligne Lake

Hotels Near Lake Louise

  • The Castle Mountain Chalet: While not exactly a “budget” option, the Chalet provides beautiful rooms and enticing amenities at some of the lowest prices you’ll find in the area.
  • The Fairmont Chateau: Practically part of the scenery, the Chateau provides the signature experience for anyone visiting Lake Louise. Premium luxury set against a majestic backdrop, this stay is hard to beat.
  • The Post Hotel & Spa: With a higher price tag than most other options, the Post is worth every penny. The ultimate combination of natural beauty and elegant comfort.

A Trip to Remember

From cars to skates to kayaks, there are many things you can rent to enhance your vacation experience at a fraction of the cost of buying them. However, regardless of which incredible lake you choose to enjoy, you will want to look back on your adventure. 

I recommend bringing an excellent camera with you, like the Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera from Amazon. This rugged point and shoot camera is water, shock, and crushproof, ready for any adventure you are.

Verdict

The choice between visiting Maligne Lake vs. Lake Louise is a tough one. I could write books about what each has to offer. From its majestic ski slopes to Lake Louise’s historic scenery is home to world-class attractions anyone would be thrilled to take part in. However, with its wealth of natural wonders and near-limitless beauty to explore, I give my vote to the storied Maligne Lake. Which lake would you prefer?

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