Travel Alberta // Mike Seehagel
One of Jasper’s most majestic winter attractions is Maligne Canyon. This is the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park, which reaches 50 m in depth in some places. In the summer, this canyon is a torrent of rushing water and stunning waterfalls. In the winter, it’s a frozen wonderland of rock and ice.
The unique shape of the canyon has a wider base and narrow top, which leads some geologists to believe it was once a cave whose top was scrapped off by glaciers. The water in the canyon also has its mysteries. Some of it comes from Medicine Lake through a series of underground caves. It takes water 12-24 hours in the summer and 5-9 days in the winter to make this journey.
The rest of the water comes from underground streams that deposit into the canyon. It drains through a karst, which is an underground series of drainage tunnels and caves. Karst topography is common in limestone, which is soft and can be carved over time by the flowing water.
The limestone walls house numerous fossils from aquatic creatures who used to swim in the waters of the shallow sea that covered this area millions of years ago.
Learn the basics of ice climbing in the canyon from Rockaboo Mountain Adventures. No experience is necessary for this tour. Whatever you choose, warm up with a meal from Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen after your adventure.