Kayaking is an incredible water sport that makes you more flexible, builds stamina, increases overall endurance, and has a wide range of other benefits. You can reap the therapeutic benefits of kayaking in a calm body of water, or get in that adrenaline rush by going whitewater kayaking. If you live in Calgary, Canada, you’re in luck because there are numerous beautiful Calgary kayaking spots near the city. You can either take a relaxing float in one of the stunning lakes or plan an exciting whitewater kayaking adventure with your friends. To help you choose the best spot for you, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite places to go kayaking in Calgary.

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Where to Go Canoeing and Kayaking in Calgary

Glenmore Reservoir

Location: Calgary

Rentals Available: Yes, at Glenmore Sailing School 

Rental Prices: $15/hour for a single kayak

Glenmore Reservoir is a beautiful mid-size lake located near Elbow River and it is the nearest option for canoeing and kayaking in Calgary. It also offers other water sports such as sailing, disabled sailing, rowing, and dragon boat racing. If you don’t have your own kayak, no worries. You can rent one from Glenmore Sailing School and carry it to the lake. 

For those bringing their own canoe or kayak, you can launch at any of the 3 points at the reservoir, which are Heritage Park, Glenmore Sailing School, Calgary Canoe Club, and Calgary Rowing Club. Go on a solo paddle for a relaxing escape, or bring the family and enjoy a fun-filled weekend. 

Chestermere Lake 

Location: Chestermere

Rentals Available: Yes, at Hyperactive Watersports

Rental Prices: $30/hour for a single kayak

Lake Chestermere, located 30-minutes east of Calgary, is a beautiful kayaking destination with a beach-like vibe. It’s the best place to go if you want to enjoy a fun paddling experience in an urban setting. You can rent a kayak or launch your own at the John Peak Park launch point, located on the Western shore of the lake. Keep in mind that it can get crowded in the summer, so if you’re looking for a relaxing paddling experience, this might not be the best choice. 

Barrier Lake:

Location: Kananaskis

Rentals Available: Yes, at Kananaskis Outfitters

Rental Prices: $45/hour for a single kayak

If you’re looking for a romantic, serene, and idyllic kayaking experience in emerald blue water, then take the Trans-Canada Hwy to the beautiful Barrier Lake. While it’s meant to be a big, man-made lake for storing glacial water, you can also go canoeing and kayaking here. After your paddling trip, relax on the sandy beach or go on one of the gorgeous hiking trails overlooking the mountains. If you have your own kayak, we recommend bringing it, as the rental prices here are steep. Arrive early in the morning during the summer months, as it can get busy! 

Where to Go Whitewater Kayaking in Calgary:

Elbow River 

Location: Southwestern Alberta
Rentals Available: No

Elbow River is a popular kayaking location located only 40-minutes from Calgary. It’s the perfect place for both recreational and whitewater kayaking, based on which section of the river you go on. The river flows leisurely from Glenmore Reservoir to the Bow River, making for a great relaxing paddling spot. If you head upstream of Bragg’s Creek, you’ll find a variety of Class II to V whitewater sections for a bit of excitement. You can also enjoy a peaceful riverside picnic here, or go on a beautiful hike. 

Bow River 

Location: Alberta

Rentals Available: Yes, at Rocky Mountain Paddling Centre

Rental Prices: starting at $45 for a kayak package

Bow River is the most popular option for whitewater kayaking in Calgary among entry-level to experienced-level paddlers. For the best paddling experience, visit during early spring and summer when the water level is the highest. The river is divided into two passages at the Harvie Passage – the western passage is for regular intermediate kayakers to paddle in the low current channels and Class 2 rapids. The Eastern passage offers Class 3 rapids for fearless kayakers looking for an exciting, fun-filled experience.

Kananaskis River 

Location: Western Alberta

Rentals Available: No

Kananaskis River is a great spot for those looking to go whitewater kayaking. It has the picturesque scenery of towering pine trees, along with some awesome continuous/drop rapids to play in. It’s a natural river with man-made features and hurdles to make your experience even more exhilarating. There are multiple rapids for Class I – Class III paddlers, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from for freestyle paddling. 

Sheep River 

Location: Southwestern Alberta

Rentals Available: No

Sheep River is for experienced kayakers who want thrilling whitewater kayaking in one of Alberta’s most scenic rivers. Sheep River is about a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Calgary, so we’d recommend planning a half or full day outing here. Near Turner valley, kayakers will find an 11 km run where they can enjoy numerous rapids and falls to get their heart racing. 

For those who don’t want to go whitewater kayaking, there are plenty of other activities to do around the river. Sheep River Falls is a short 7 minute hike that takes you to a stunning waterfall. Or take your bait and pole down to the river for some relaxing fishing. You can also turn this into a weekend trip of outdoor fun, as there are campsites near the river to stay at. 

Kayaking in Calgary Clubs:

If you’re a kayaking enthusiast who wants to meet other paddlers in Calgary, here are a few clubs you may be interested in joining:

Important Life-Saving Tips for Kayaking in Calgary:

  • Always wear a lifejacket
  • Wear an appropriate paddling leash 
  • Check the weather report
  • Have a first aid kit handy
  • For beginners, pick a flat water kayaking spot or take kayaking lessons 

Other Resources for Kayaking in Calgary:

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