My BIG Alberta Backyard – Jasper National Park

20 February 2024

What a view! Medicine Lake is known as the disappearing lake as it fills in the summer and empties into a cavern system in the fall. STEPH WEIZENBACH
What a view! Medicine Lake is known as the disappearing lake as it fills in the summer and empties into a cavern system in the fall. STEPH WEIZENBACH


Alberta is a great place to live. It’s a big beautiful province full of all kinds of natural wonders. In My Big Alberta Backyard, we introduce you to the unique and interesting wild spaces that you can find in your province, and the diverse wildlife that live there.  This time, let’s explore Jasper National Park! 

Jasper itself is a big place to explore with lots of fun things to do in the winter. You can go skiing, snowboarding, fat biking, snowshoeing, or simply winter walking and wildlife watching. Some of my favourite places to explore here are down Maligne Lake Road.

Lake Annette

Lake Annette is a small lake with gorgeous, panoramic views of the mountains! The 2.4-km paved loop trail is an easy walk through the trees, with gentle slopes that dip you right down to the lake’s shore. Keep an eye on the trail ahead to make sure you don’t run into grazing elk! 

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon is so much fun to explore in every season, but wintertime is my favourite! Make sure you wear ice cleats on your boots here — the trail gets very icy. The canyon walls are covered with hanging galleries of dazzling, frozen waterfalls. It is a fascinating sight to see! Get up even closer by booking a safe guided tour into the bottom of the canyon floor. As you explore the dangling walls of ice, watch for signs of bighorn sheep who frequent the upper trials. Remember to give wildlife space when you spot them.

Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake is an awe-inspiring scene to explore. The lake is like a big bathtub that fills up in the summertime and empties in the fall. The water drains through sinkholes into a cave system and then resurfaces in the Maligne Canyon area downstream. At the Medicine Lake viewpoint, you can climb down the stairs to the lake for exciting explorations. See if you can spot the giant eagle nest, high up in a tree, on the small island ahead. Go further by bringing your snowshoes to follow the lakeshore, past the rolling boulder field and along the burned treeline. The snow-swept lake is surrounded by sheer mountains. 

Maligne Lake Outlet Bridge and Moose Lake Loop

After parking, venture back out to the bridge you crossed at the Maligne Lake outlet. Look down at the water and you may spot our most extreme songbird: the American dipper. Dippers nest behind waterfalls in the summer and dive into rushing water for breakfast. You may spot them swimming in the water at the outlet, eating water bugs, and popping back out onto a rock. Even when it is –20 C! After you enjoy the birds at the outlet, go for a walk along the 2.7-km loop, which takes you over an ancient rockslide to the peaceful Moose Lake.

Even More to Explore!

Explore on trails groomed by the Friends of Jasper National Park’s Snowdog! The Snowdog is a machine run by volunteers that packs down the snow to make a smooth, supportive trail for all users to enjoy! Check current trail conditions at