The Best Water Activities in Jasper National Park

While Jasper is famous for its incredible network of hiking trails, there are other ways to immerse yourself in Jasper’s pristine wilderness. Canoe, kayak or raft at these stunning locations and see the best sights Jasper has to offer.

Do you crave the rush of conquering whitewater rapids? Or would you rather enjoy a leisurely float on a shimmering alpine lake? No matter what type of water activity you’re looking for, Jasper offers a long list of rivers and lakes that offer unforgettable outdoor experiences.
From the iconic Maligne Lake to the lesser-known gems, Jasper National Park is filled with stunning places for water activities. Paddle along these pristine bodies of water while watching for moose, deer or elk along the shore. It’s the ultimate way to escape and unwind. Many lakes here are filled with crystal-clear water, meaning the scenery below your kayak or canoe is almost as enthralling as the surrounding landscape.
Kayak, canoe or raft – no matter which activity you prefer, Jasper National Park offers some of Canada’s most incredible places to paddle. If you’re wondering which river or lake to explore first, take a look at the list below:

Kayaking to Spirit Island on Maligne Lake

Kayak on Spirit Island, Maligne Lake in Jasper

Robert Berdan Photo

Spirit Island is a tiny slice of green in the middle of Maligne Lake. The island is one of the most famous landscapes of the Canadian Rockies – you can find Spirit Island on postcards across the country. But there’s only one way to really experience this place: by taking a boat.
You could take a commercial boat cruise to make your way there, or take a kayak and float on over yourself. Once on Spirit Island you will find two backcountry campgrounds, and incredible views.
This adventure can be done as a day trip or an overnight stay. The lake is known for sudden weather changes that can make it dangerous, so this trip is best recommended for experienced kayakers and those exploring with a certified guide. The stunning Maligne Lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks that provide a dramatic backdrop for a day of paddling that’s well worth the effort.

  • This trip spans about 28 kilometres round-trip, so you should allow yourself at least 5-8 hours
  • To get to Maligne Lake, take the Maligne Lake Road from Jasper and follow it to the end


Canoeing on Pyramid Lake

Man canoeing on Pyramid Lake in Jasper

Tourism Jasper Photo

As you paddle over the glassy surface of Pyramid Lake, you might hear the call of a loon, see a muskrat swimming nearby or spot a long-legged moose grazing along the shore. The mountains and sky are reflected in the mirror-like surface of the water of this lake, giving the impression that you are floating over the clouds. Canoeing on Pyramid Lake is the ultimate way to fall in love with the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains.
There are several picnic sites and boat ramps around the shores of the lake. Pyramid Lake is also connected by hiking trails to Jasper, as well as many other sites such as Patricia Lake and Cabin Lake. It is possible to take your own canoe, rent a canoe or go on a canoeing tour with a guide. These tours are offered by many travel companies in Jasper.

  • To get to Pyramid Lake, drive down Connaught Drive and make a right turn onto Cedar Avenue, which will become Pyramid Lake Road after you pass the Recreation Centre
  • Pyramid Lake has a total area of 1.2 kilometres and it discharges into the Athabasca River through Pyramid Creek


Rafting on Sunwapta River

White water rafting on Sunwapta River, Jasper

Avenue Calgary Photo

The name Sunwapta means “turbulent waters” in the Stoney Indian language, and it’s a very accurate name for this tumultuous and exciting 51km river. Sunwapta River a major tributary of the Athabasca River in Jasper National Park and a very popular route for rafting.
The run is graded class III, which means it offers an exhilarating challenge for experienced whitewater-junkies. If you start south of the Sunwapta Falls Resort, the first half of the trip will involve peaceful scenic paddling while the latter portion will offer thrilling rapids. There are many local guides who will outfit you with the right equipment and take you out for a day on the river.

  • Sunwapta River is 51km long and is graded class III
  • The headwaters are located near the Columbia Icefield
  • The mouth of the river is at an elevation of 1,300 metres


Canoeing on Horseshoe Lake

Horseshoe Lake, Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park

Travel Wonders of the World Photo

Named for its curved shape, Horseshoe Lake is one of the best natural swimming holes in Jasper National Park and a great destination for canoeing.
Imagine canoeing over icy turquoise water that is so clear you can see the fish swimming below you, picnicking amongst wildflowers in a mountain meadow or sunbathing on a rock ledge. A mirror-like lake surrounded by towering cliffs and thick pine forest, Horseshoe Lake is easy to get to, yet offers some of the best natural scenery in Jasper.
Horseshoe Lake is also one of the lesser-known lakes in Jasper, so there will likely be fewer crowds and tourists when you visit. You’ll find a small boat launch that’s suitable for canoes, kayaks and rowboats and you might also see people using float tubes to fly fish.

  • Horseshoe Lake is located next to the Icefields Parkway highway approximately 25km south of the town of Jasper. There’s a parking lot next to the highway, on the east side
  • The lake is excellent for rainbow trout fishing – a fishing license is required



We have a variety of accommodations in Jasper with advantageous locations in the national park. Call our highly knowledgeable Destination Experts who can answer any questions you may have about water activities in Jasper, or our fabulous selection of vacation rentals. They’re available 7 days a week!