Every summer I hope to enjoy as much of it doing what I love. This, of course, means time with the family doing fun stuff outside. With the rising cost of everything it is so much more attractive to stay close to home. Cutting down on costs associated with traveling while vacationing means staying local. Having options is great; east, west, north, south, Western Canada has it all.
All family outdoor activities have some sort of logistical difficulty. Out of all of the summer options hiking maybe the most simple thing to do, but to get deep into the back country the packs are heavy and it requires a lot of gummy bears to keep the tears at bay. Out kids were just like any other. As they suffered at the hands of their torturous parents they were motivated by the anticipation of a sweet squishy bear. Something that makes carrying all that gear easier is water. This is why river and lake tripping is a family favorite. Why not bring a few more comforts and allow the current to usher you to your next campsite.
Locally, in Alberta, we have some excellent options for fun and relaxing multiday and single day river or lake trips. Many of these trips are less than half a days drive from Calgary and Edmonton. Some of our river begin to run very low and others maintain excellent flows throughout the year. Something I did a lot while growing up was paddle the Bow River through or below Calgary. The fishing was great and the river itself was very easy to run. I have distinct memories of laying on the bottom of a canoe and watching my father play a fish with one hand and paddling with the other.
Some very easy and fun rivers in southern Alberta include the Athabasca River, the North Saskatchewan River, the Bow River, the Red Deer River, the Milk River. All of these rivers are very close and offer multiple options for multi day trips. They are also well known and popular. There is ample camping to be found on the shore lines and on islands. Because of all the ranching and agriculture activities in these areas the land sometimes can be affected. If further isolation and remoteness is desired you may have to head into the or close to the mountain parks and there tends to be more challenging weather and water conditions. However you are rewarded with truly wild landscapes and a deeper sense of adventure.
Our best local mountain destinations for overnight paddling trips include, the Kootenay River, the Elk River, the Bow River, the Athabasca, Lake Minnewanka, the Bowron lakes, Murtle Lake, the North Saskatchewan and the Brazeau River. Some of them holding more white water than others. And the lakes have some portages and wind to contend with.
Of course all of these trips require some logistics and planning.
To get some of the best paddling trip details check out
To get the details of who can help you with parking and shuttles check out the paddle Alberta website.
A trip I would like to highlight here is the Brazeau River above the Brazeau reservoir. The Brazeau flows from the mountains into our Boreal forests and parkland in central Alberta. The put in is 1 hour north of Nordegg and the take out is an hour north of Rocky Mountain House. This is one of the most remote and challenging trips available within half a days drive of either Calgary or Edmonton. It involves two days of white water that is mostly big waves and corners, followed by a day of extensive braids. Then it flows into a lake (the reservoir) that's surrounded by large cliff walls. The minimum I would recommend would be four days to run from the forestry trunk road to the reservoir. There is very little access between the trunk road and the reservoir.
Hela Ventures will help with a shuttle if your happy to pay. Its not cheap, however I am finding shuttle service worth its cost in the security and convenience it brings.
We specialize in getting people on the water safely and in style. Should you have any ambitions you need help with or equipment for give us a shout!