Medicine Lake Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

I love getting away to the Rocky Mountains when I go to Calgary each summer. One of my favorite places for a Canadian Rockies road trip is Jasper National Park. When I visited Jasper for a weekend this summer, I spent one day exploring the Maligne Valley to the east of Jasper. After hiking Maligne Canyon in the morning I continued driving the Maligne Lake Road to another beautiful place in Jasper National Park called Medicine Lake.

 

In the Maligne Valley of Jasper National Park you'll find Medicine Lake

In the Maligne Valley of Jasper National Park you’ll find Medicine Lake

 

Medicine Lake Jasper National Park Canada

Medicine Lake is a 7 km long, narrow, and shallow lake in the Maligne Valley of Jasper National Park. The lake is located 25 km (16 miles) east of the town of Jasper.

 

Medicine Lake Jasper AB Canada

 

Getting to Medicine Lake from Jasper

  • From downtown Jasper take Connaught Drive/AB-16A north for 2.5 km
  • Turn left onto Hwy AB-16 (signs for Edmonton) and drive 2 km
  • Turn right onto Maligne Lake Road and continue for 21 km (13 miles)
  • Turn right into the parking lot for Medicine Lake

From downtown Jasper to Medicine Lake the drive takes about 30 minutes.

 

Rocky Mountains at Medicine Lake in Jasper National Park

Medicine Lake is a beautiful setting with the mountains in the background

 

Disappearing Lake

Medicine Lake in Jasper is interesting because it’s not always there. What?! The lake comes and goes with the seasons. In spring and summer Medicine Lake is a serene and gorgeous spot to stop in Jasper. In fall the water drains and exposes the muddy lake bottom.

 

Jasper National Park road trip with a stop at Medicine Lake in the Maligne Valley

Roadtripping in Jasper National Park

 

Water flows from the Maligne River into Medicine Lake and although the water is shallow it remains a lake through summer. You can go kayaking at Medicine Lake if you bring your own equipment or arrange a rental with Pure Outdoors Jasper. That’s the rental shop my sister and I used last year when we went kayaking in Jasper. For a small fee they will deliver kayaks and gear to various lakes, including Medicine Lake.

 

When I visited Medicine Lake, I took a few pictures of the incredible reflections of the sky and clouds in the water.

 

Reflection of clouds in the water at Medicine Lake Jasper AB

Reflection of clouds in the water at Medicine Lake Jasper AB

 

There’s a hiking trail but when I checked for information on the hiking trails at Medicine Lake, I found a news bulletin at the Parks Canada website stating that a portion of the trail is closed due to Bald Eagles nesting in the area.

 

Medicine Lake trail Jasper National Park

Medicine Lake trail had a red plastic ribbon across the stairs but no official closed signage

 

At the lake I saw a red ribbon tied across the stairs down to the trail, but I didn’t see any official signage about the closure.

You’ll find some information boards at Medicine Lake with some details about how the water flows to and from Medicine Lake.

 

Jasper National Park Maligne Valley information board

An information board at Medicine Lake explains how the water drains via the caves beneath the lake

 

Where does the water from Medicine Lake go?

The interesting thing about Medicine Lake is that the water flows away from the lake via sink holes and caves below the surface. The water flows out and downstream about 10 km (6 miles) away.

 

Medicine Lake Jasper Canada - the long shallow lake disappears in fall and winter

Medicine Lake Jasper Canada – the long shallow lake disappears in fall and winter

 

Maligne Canyon ( receives some of the outflow of water from Medicine Lake.

Each spring when the meltwater begins to flow again it signals the return of Medicine Lake.

 

Bears in Jasper National Park

After leaving Medicine Lake and continuing on to Maligne Lake I saw a black bear on the side of the road. Jasper National Park is habitat for Black Bears and Grizzly Bears. It’s wise to hike in groups, during the daytime, and carry bear spray when hiking in Jasper.

 

Black bear near Medicine Lake in Jasper National Park Canada

Black bear near Medicine Lake in Jasper National Park Canada

 

Stay in your vehicle if you see a bear near the road. People often get out of their cars for a closer look at wildlife but that is not wise.

 

Cars line up in a traffic jam due to a bear sighting along Maligne Lake Road in Jasper

Cars line up in a traffic jam due to a bear sighting along Maligne Lake Road in Jasper

 

Caribou in Jasper National Park

I didn’t realize that caribou live in Jasper National Park. I thought they only lived in Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories in North America. The caribou herds in Jasper are small and certain areas of Jasper National Park have seasonal closures in winter for caribou conservation – more details here.

 

Woodland caribou information board at Medicine Lake

Woodland caribou information board at Medicine Lake

 

The population of Woodland Caribou that live in northern Jasper National Park number around 150 to 200 in the herd. The southern herd is now stable at about 150 in the herd but numbered around 400 back in the 1960’s.

 

Graph of the caribou population over the years at Jasper National Park - northern herds increasing while southern herds are decreasing in numbers

Graph of the caribou population over the years at Jasper National Park

 

An information board shows the number of caribou around Jasper National Park

An information board shows the number of caribou around Jasper National Park

 

Enjoy exploring Jasper National Park and beautiful Medicine Lake – in the spring and summer!

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Magical Medicine Lake Jasper Alberta Canada

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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