I was talking with my buddy Bobby Strader last week about our upcoming June trip to Banff National Park. He had seen one of my posts a few weeks ago of Spirit Island in Jasper National Park and wanted to know whether he could fit in a day trip there from Banff. Spirit Island is one of the most iconic scenes in Canada and I could understand why Bobby wanted to get there. The bad news was that it is an awful lot of driving, and the actual face time in front of Spirit Island is only about 20 minutes unless you charter a private boat. If Spirit Island was the only attraction, driving at least 8 hours for a 20 minute view probably wouldn't be worth it. There is no question that Spirit Island is the highlight of Maligne Lake, but one has to take into account the surrounding scenery.
Let me explain. The main way to get to the island is to take a boat. Regularly scheduled boat tours are conducted in the summer months and last about 90 minutes. Excluding the 20 minutes at Spirit Island, that leaves roughly 35 minutes each way that allow the Canadian Rockies to show off their splendor. The lake has towering mountains on either side of the boat almost the whole way that are simply amazing. This photo was taken from the boat as we sped by on our way to Spirit Island. So is the driving worth it when you factor in the scenery on the lake? It might be, depending on how much time you have available.