As one of the most iconic landmarks in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, Spirit Island has enjoyed no shortage of adoration. Here’s what you should know about this beautiful, off-the-beaten path island which has captured worldwide imagination, and the best way to experience it for yourself.
When artist and explorer Mary Schaffer became the first European to lay eyes on Maligne Lake in 1908, she called it “the Hall of Gods,” adding that “if Lake Louise is a pearl, Maligne is the entire pearl necklace.”
The description was apt. Sitting within its steep-sided, mountain-ringed canyon, Maligne Lake offers some of the most interesting and spectacular scenery found anywhere in the world, and Spirit Island (which sits in the southern half of the lake) is arguably one of the most photographed places in the Canadian Rockies.
One of the best ways to see this only-accessible-by-boat location is with Pursuit. This guiding company — formerly called Brewster Travel Canada (Fred Brewster was among the earliest park guides and his descendants have played a crucial role in the region’s tourism industry) — has been providing visitors with the opportunity to discover the area for more than 60 years through its interpretive boat cruises. With panoramic views of the jagged mountain peaks that surround the glacier-fed waters of magical Maligne Lake, their glass-enclosed and heated boats take you to and from world-famous Spirit Island. Visitors can observe in awe and listen while a knowledgeable guide retells Maligne’s history and explains its geology, wildlife, weather, flora and fauna.
The Pursuit Maligne Lake boat cruises typically starts taking passengers in late May.
Here are 10 facts about spirit island to inspire and inform your visit:
10 Winters are extremely harsh
The lowest recorded temperature is -50 degree Celsius (-58 degree Fahrenheit). Average snowfall is six meters in a winter.