Maligne Canyon Icewalk is one of the best things to do in Jasper in winter. Let us take you on a beautiful walk through the deepest canyon in Jasper during winter, with frozen waterfalls and deep gorges.

Jasper National Park is an epic destination in the Canadian Rockies year-round, with endless outdoor activities and natural wonders. One such enchanting gem is the 55-meter-deep (180-foot) Maligne Canyon, a breathtaking gorge carved by the Maligne River.

While Maligne Canyon is beautiful in all seasons, winter transforms it into a magical wonderland, offering an exhilarating experience known as the Maligne Canyon Icewalk.

The Maligne Canyon Icewalk is a mesmerizing winter adventure that allows visitors to explore the frozen beauty of the canyon. This guided experience takes you along the canyon floor, where you’ll witness spectacular ice formations, frozen waterfalls, and towering limestone walls.

The Icewalk usually covers around 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) of distance and lasts approximately 3 hours, although it may vary based on weather conditions. It’s an easy and family-friendly activity for all skill levels. The trail is well-maintained, with railings and stairs in certain sections to ensure safety.

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk

In this blog post, I share my personal experience on Maligne Canyon Icewalk and provide all the details for your enjoyable and hassle-free trip, including:

  • A brief history of Maligne Canyon
  • Where is Maligne Canyon, and how to get there
  • How long is the Maligne Canyon Icewalk
  • Best time for Maligne Canyon Icewalk
  • Do you need a guide for Maligne Canyon Icewalk
  • My recommendation – Is the Maligne Canyon Icewalk worth it
  • More winter activities in Jasper
  • Where to stay in Jasper

While people usually come to Jasper in summer, you’ll see that Jasper in winter is gorgeous and worth a visit!

*In the spirit of full disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. We appreciate your support!

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk

Maligne Canyon Icewalk: my experience

We arrived at Maligne Canyon in the morning for the morning tour. Because our son was a toddler, he wasn’t allowed on the tour (only kids over 7 years old are allowed), so I went by myself while Michal played with our son.

As I entered the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen, I was greeted by our guide and immediately welcomed by our 10-person group. We were all fitted with warm, knee-high waterproof boots, ice cleats, and helmets.

Our Maligne Canyon Icewalk tour started crossing the First Bridge. We followed the same walking path you can also experience in summer. As we were slowly making our way downstream, our guide pointed out several frozen waterfalls in the canyon and talked about the formation of the Maligne Canyon and its amazing features.

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk

As an example, I learned that the lower section of the Maligne River doesn’t freeze due to the extensive underground system of caves and flowing water in the Maligne Canyon.

Once we reached the gate built along the hiking trail, we descended to the Maligne Canyon to finally walk on the frozen Maligne River. This is the part where it got really icy.

While there was a chain to hold onto when descending, once we were on the frozen Maligne River, there were no safety measures unless you brought your own ski/hiking poles. The necessity of wearing microspikes or ice cleats was obvious.

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk

We saw several very cool frozen waterfalls up close and walked deep into the canyon. Unfortunately, since it was early April and it was getting warm, we didn’t walk very far due to hazardous conditions.

If you visit earlier in winter, you can walk behind a frozen waterfall or even slide into an ice cave.

While I saw several people entering the canyon’s depths independently, I didn’t question our guide as I didn’t want to break through the ice.

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk

Once we left the canyon, we followed the beautiful emerald green Maligne River to the Fifth Bridge, where our transportation awaited. They drove us back to the start at Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen, where I reunited with my family and warmed up with amazing chili soup.

Maligne Canyon in summer

Maligne Canyon is one of the most popular attractions in summer. There’s a walking path along the canyon, making a nice loop, which you can start either at the First Bridge (by the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen) or by the Fifth Bridge.

The gorgeous colored rapid water is beautiful to watch in summer. You can stop at the Maligne Canyon on your way to Maligne Lake Cruise – the best boat ride in the Rockies with stunning glacier views.

Things to do in Jasper National Park - 19 Visit all bridges at Maligne Canyon

Jasper itinerary for 4 days

Summary of the Maligne Canyon Icewalk

  • Length: 3.5 km – 4 km long (2.1-2.5 miles), takes 3 hours
  • Price: 75 CAD/adult, 38 CAD/child
  • Tours starting: 9:30 am & 1:30 pm
  • Availability: from mid-December to early April
  • You can book your tickets here

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk

A brief history of Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon has a rich geological history that dates back 365 million years. It was formed during the Paleozoic era when a vast inland sea covered the area – you can see the fossils while walking through the canyon.

Over time, the erosive forces of the Maligne River sculpted the limestone and created the deep, narrow canyon we see today. The name “Maligne” is derived from the French word for malignant or wicked, given by a missionary due to his troublesome journey through Maligne Canyon when he lost his horses to the turbulent waters.

Indigenous people have long revered the region, and evidence of their presence, including petroglyphs, attests to the cultural significance of Maligne Canyon. And in the late 1800s, European explorers and fur traders began to venture into the Canadian Rockies, discovering the marvels of Maligne Canyon.

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk

Where is Maligne Canyon & How to get there

Maligne Canyon is located just a short 11 km (7 miles) drive north of Jasper town. Since Jasper doesn’t have public transport, you can only get to Maligne Canyon with your transport, or if you book a tour, they will pick you up at your accommodation.

To reach Maligne Canyon from town, head north on Connaught Drive, continue on Yellowhead Highway, and then onto Maligne Lake Road. Look for well-marked signs directing you to the canyon, where you’ll find a big & free parking lot and trailheads.

If you’re coming from Edmonton, the Maligne Canyon is approximately 366 kilometers (227 miles) and takes around 4 hours by car. From Banff, the drive is approximately 288 kilometers (179 miles) and takes about 3.5 hours.

The road to Maligne Canyon is plowed and well-maintained in winter, and winter tires are recommended. If you’re coming from Banff, you drive through Icefields Parkway, where winter tires are mandatory from November 1 to April 1.

How long is the Maligne Canyon Icewalk

Maligne Canyon Icewalk is 3.5 km – 4 km long (2.1-2.5 miles) and usually takes 3 hours to complete. It also depends on how many ice formations you can explore. The tour might be longer if there’s still an ice cave and a frozen waterfall, so everyone has time to explore.

However, if you’re doing the Maligne Canyon Icewalk without a tour, you can turn around whenever you want and make it shorter since it’s an out-and-back trail.

The tour was a bit shorter because I visited late in the season and didn’t get to walk on the Maligne River for long.

When starting from the First bridge (by the main parking lot), the trail slowly goes downhill and drops rapidly when entering the canyon. Then it evens out as you follow the river bank to the 5th bridge (the end of the tour).

Facilities near Maligne Canyon

The main parking lot for Maligne Canyon is located by the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen (by the First Bridge). They offer a lunch menu with soups, sandwiches, and desserts.

You can find washrooms and a gift shop in the same building.

Maligne Canyon is the last spot with internet if you’re headed towards Maligne Lake afterward (where there’s no cell signal or Wi-Fi).


Best time for Maligne Canyon Icewalk

The Maligne Canyon Icewalk tours usually run from mid-December to early April, depending on the conditions. The best ice (and coldest weather) is in January & February.

I went on a Maligne Canyon Icewalk tour at the beginning of April, and the timing wasn’t the best. While the tours still run, we spent very little time walking on the ice in the canyon and most of the time just walking the trails above the canyon.

The morning tour usually has better conditions than the afternoon tour, as it gets warmer as the day goes by.

I recommend contacting the tour company and asking about the conditions and how far in the canyon they could go with their last tour. This will save you disappointment, so you don’t pay for a tour that only takes you for a very short walk. If you book the Maligne Canyon Icewalk tour in advance, you can cancel 24 hours before it starts.

Do you need a guide for the Maligne Canyon Icewalk?

You DO NOT need a guide for the Maligne Canyon Icewalk. The Maligne Canyon is free to enter.

If you have your ice cleats, you’re good to go. Just beware that you walk in the canyon at your own risk. Having a guide with you ensures you only walk as far as it’s safe since they know the conditions and ice thickness the best.

I personally wouldn’t go without a guide. Not only is it the safest option, but he also ensures you see the coolest formations, including a frozen waterfall and a secret (but long) ice cave.

My recommendation – Is the Maligne Canyon Icewalk worth it?

Definitely YES. Maligne Canyon Icewalk is one of the best winter activities in Jasper.

Even if you saw the Maligne Canyon in summer, it’s way cooler in winter when you see several frozen waterfalls and can walk on the ice deep in the canyon.

Johnston Canyon Ice Walk: Winter Wonderland in Banff

More winter activities in Jasper

Jasper National Park is a winter wonderland with many activities beyond the Maligne Canyon Icewalk. Here are some additional activities to consider during your visit:

1. Jasper Skytram

Jasper Skytram is the most iconic attraction in town and the highest tramway in Canada. Enjoy the views of the Rockies from above, Jasper National Park, and Mount Robson, the highest mountain of the Rockies; you won’t regret it! Jasper Skytram opens in late March for the season.

Read our full review of visiting Jasper Skytram

2. Scenic Train Ride Through the Rockies

While most activities in Jasper are well-known, such as hiking or visiting lakes, I’ve got a new one for you. Taking a scenic train ride through the Rockies! You see beautiful landscapes you otherwise wouldn’t see, including lots of wildlife viewing, especially when they’re blocking the train tracks. It’s an amazing adventure.

Read our full review of the scenic train ride through the Rockies.

Scenic Train Ride Through the Rockies- from Jasper to Hinton-3

3. Marmot Basin Ski Resort

Just a short drive from Jasper, Marmot Basin offers world-class skiing and snowboarding. With more than 91 runs with 915 meters of vertical drop, it’s suitable for all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned enthusiasts.

4. Dog Sledding

Experience the thrill of mushing through the pristine wilderness with a dog sledding adventure. Professional mushers guide you through the snowy landscapes, providing an unforgettable and authentic northern experience.

5. Ice Skating

Pyramid Lake, located just outside Jasper, often features a maintained ice-skating rink with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Bring your skates and enjoy gliding on the frozen lake beneath the crisp winter sky.

6. Winter Wildlife Tours

While wildlife is abundant in Jasper National Park year-round, winter provides a unique opportunity to observe animals in their snowy habitats. Join a guided wildlife tour to spot elk, bighorn sheep, and maybe even elusive predators like wolves and lynx.

7. Snowshoeing

Explore the beautiful snowy winter landscapes at a slower pace while snowshoeing with your friends or family. Many trails are accessible for snowshoeing, allowing you to immerse yourself in the tranquility of the snowy woods.

8. Seeing the Northern Lights

Jasper’s dark skies make it an excellent location for witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Join an organized tour or venture to dark areas on clear nights for a chance to see the dancing colors of the auroras.

9. Winter Festivals

Check Jasper’s events calendar for winter festivals and activities. Jasper often hosts winter celebrations, including ice sculpture competitions, winter markets, and cultural events.

Where to stay in Jasper

While Jasper offers some winter campsites, it’s safe to say that most would like to stay somewhere warmer, preferably with a hot tub. We tried and loved staying at both of these hotels:

Pyramid Lake Resort

Located by the iconic Pyramid Lake in Jasper, Pyramid Lake Resort offers cozy chalet-style accommodation with kitchenettes, lake views, complimentary fat bikes in winter, an outdoor hot tub, a sauna, and more.

Read our full review of Pyramid Lake Resort here

Click here to see more reviews and current availability.

Forest Park Hotel

Forest Park Hotel is located on the edge of town, so there are many wildlife viewings. It has modern rooms with upgraded kitchenettes, an amazing onsite restaurant, a big indoor pool with a hot tub, and more.

Read our full review of Forest Park Hotel here.

Click here to see hotel reviews and current availability.

Forest Park Hotel in Jasper

Essential info about visiting Jasper National Park

To visit any national park in Canada, you must purchase a Park Pass (daily or yearly).

  • 11 CAD per person for a daily pass, 22 CAD for a group/family
  • 25 CAD per person for a yearly pass, 151.25 CAD for a group/family

The yearly Discovery Pass is valid for all National parks in Canada. You can purchase it at the gate when you enter the national park, in the Visitor’s Centre, or online here.


About Maya Steiningerova

Heyo, I’m Maya! An adventure athlete currently living near the Canadian Rockies with my partner in crime Michal. I love running in the mountains, jumping in the ice cold lakes, mountain biking and trying not so common activities, such as mountaineering. By showing that an ordinary person can live an extraordinary life, my hope is to inspire you to live an adventurous life and provide you with tips and tools for your own adventure.

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