Medicine Lake

Jasper Town & Around

A geological rarity, Medicine Lake is perhaps best described as an intermittent lake with a porous bottom that functions rather like a bathtub without a plug. In summer, when meltwater runoff is high, the lake fills more quickly than it can drain away, and the body of water becomes deep and expansive. In winter, as the runoff slows, the water empties, causing the lake to shrink to the size of a small stream.

What bewildered indigenous peoples and other early visitors was the apparent lack of any water outlet. In fact, the water flows out of the lake via a series of small holes on its floor before passing into a complex underground cave system. The river then re-emerges 16km downstream near Maligne Canyon. In the 1950s a ferry service across the lake was briefly attempted, but efforts to plug the holes with sandbags, mattresses and bundles of magazines all proved futile.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Jasper Town & Around attractions

1. Rest Stop

6.49 MILES

Pause at this picnic area on the east side of the road between Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake and watch for bears and mountain goats.

2. Mary Schäffer Lookout

10.55 MILES

Mary Schäffer was the first non-indigenous woman to travel through much of the Jasper region – this lookout gives you a glimpse of the scenery she loved…

3. Horseshoe Lake

11.78 MILES

This idyllic, blue-green horseshoe-shaped lake just off the Icefields Pkwy is missed by many visitors, making a stopover here all the more alluring. A…

4. Maligne Lake

11.91 MILES

Almost 50km from Jasper at the end of a stunning road that bears its name, 22km-long Maligne Lake is the recipient of a lot of hype. It's the largest lake…

5. Lake Edith

12.5 MILES

On the east side of the highway opposite Jasper town, Lake Edith is a popular summer getaway, ringed by cycling and hiking trails and frequented by…

6. Lake Annette

12.53 MILES

East across the main highway from Jasper town, Lake Annette is popular for water activities in the summer, with a small beach and numerous picnic spots…

7. Jasper Planetarium

12.76 MILES

Relocated to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on a year-round basis in 2019, Jasper's planetarium screens multiple shows daily in its 40-seat dome theater,…

8. Lac Beauvert

12.87 MILES

Dominated by the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and golf course just east of town, crystal-clear Lac Beauvert (literally ‘beautiful green’ in French) is as…