Maligne Lake boat tour worth it?

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May 26th, 2018, 09:06 AM
  #1
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Maligne Lake boat tour worth it?

Wondering about whether to plan a boat tour/trip while in Jasper area in late June? Generally like to be hiking but are there beautiful sights we'd miss if we don't do one of the boat trips? And if so, how do you choose which one...seems like there are a ton of choices! Benefits of a long versus short one? And should we wait till we're there and see what the weather is like or book ahead? do they sell out?
Thanks to anyone who might know the answers!
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May 28th, 2018, 01:17 PM
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The advantage of the boat tours is that they provide access to parts of the lake you wouldn't normally be able to see unless you were doing a long canoe or going to backcountry campgrounds. I can't speak as to the various tours, but I think there are only one or two different variations. All would likely be nice. Whether it's worth it depends on your budget and itinerary. If it would take away from hiking you'd really like to, perhaps not so worthwhile.

As to booking ahead - when in June are you coming? Normally, unless it's a weekend or holiday Monday (or Friday before a holiday), I'd probably not book ahead unless you really want a specific time. A bit of rain won't hurt, but if you lock yourself into a time/date and it's really nasty, not money well spent. That said, if you are coming the last week of June (i.e. 28th or later) you'll be hitting holiday crowds, so should book ahead. You can always check availability to get a sense of which sailings are heavily booked, and then if it's not too bad, you can book a day or two in advance if you want.
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May 29th, 2018, 05:51 PM
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Thanks Kgsneds. It sounds like something we will do, weather permitting, since it offers us something special and we can hike on other days. We will be in Jasper on June 25th, leaving on the 29th, so may just beat the holiday rush!
I will have to look more closely at what the different tours offer but it sound like I do not need to book it this far ahead, so can check the weather forecast a day or two ahead of our arrival.
Do you think we should do a whole day tour? Are there many places of unique beauty?
thanks so much.
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May 30th, 2018, 11:45 AM
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I think you may be confusing tours and the boat cruise. The boats cruises are either 1.5 or two hours. There's the standard tour, the 2 hr tour with more time at Spirit Island and two specialty (i.e. more $$) options not available until June 30. None are anywhere near a full day. I'd probably opt for a 2 hr cruise, as you would likely get a bit more time at Spirit Island, which is probably the main attraction.

I suspect you are seeing tours put on by Pursuit (formerly Brewsters), which runs the Maligne Lake boat tours. They would probably start and end in Jasper and include Maligne Canyon and possibly a stop at Medicine Canyon. Pursuit pushes these tours & tour packages heavily given that they own most of the paid attractions in the parks - think they own the gift shop/cafeteria at Maligne Canyon as well now - but I don't think the full day tour would make any sense for you. Not only would you be paying for coach transport when you have your own car, but the tour would give you a lot less flexibility over what you can and can't do. Since you're interested in hiking, I'd want to be able to take my time to explore in the various locations. And not be arriving with a whole coach load of other people and during times busy with coach/bus tours. If you want a tour, I'd be inclined to book with one of the small tour companies in town run by locals who offer unique experiences like wildlife tours or hiking tours.

As to booking. That last week of June will start getting very busy as local kids get out of school. My advice would be to look now and see if you can get a sense if any tours are already sold out or nearly sold out. Early in the week should be OK, but by the 28th, it could start getting much busier.
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May 31st, 2018, 02:21 PM
  #5
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thanks for making it clearer. We will sign up for the two hour boat trip and not fear that we've missed something special!! And I really dislike crowds - it's one of the reasons we're not going in July/AUgust, when the weather is better!
Would it make sense to do Maligne Canyon on our own, separately, or would that be redundant?
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Jun 1st, 2018, 11:07 AM
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I would definitely do Maligne Canyon - totally different location and experience from the lake. You wouldn't go anywhere near it on the boat tour, so not redundant in anyway. The canyon is 30+ minutes from the lake (the canyon is about 15 minutes outside the townsite, the lake 45-50 minutes), and is a narrow slot canyon with some pretty falls. You can do a shorter loop from the cafe/giftshop area or park farther away and hike/walk up from 5th or 6th bridge along the canyon as it narrows. The latter approach has the advantage of avoiding the parking lot where all the tour buses park.

As to crowds - be aware that late June is still very much peak season. The crowds are already ramping up and late June isn't going to feel much different from July or August, especially the last week of June when kids are starting to be done with school. That said, crowded is relative - the parks are huge, and you can avoid 95% of the people by starting early and walking more than a few minutes from the parking lots.
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