Alberta River Overview

Let’s start in the South. Bordering the United States / BC / Alberta border is Waterton National Park. Home of creek runs like the ever popular Cameron Creek (IV-V) and the remote Boundary Creek (IV-V). These class V runs are infamous for epic rides and pure unadulterated adventure. Truly a place worth considering for the hearty creeker.

To the North of Waterton National Park, you will come onto the small farming community of Pincher Creek, which borders the Crowsnest Pass. Each May long weekend, the Pinch’O'Crow paddling club hosts the real kick off to the season at their annual PincherFest. With over 200-300 paddlers, it really is a great springboard to the paddling season for boaters within the region. The Alberta Whitewater Association president, and Canadian National Athlete Chuck Lee graciously hosts the event with hearty morning breakfasts, gut busting dinners, and plenty of great ‘aprez-paddle’ activities for all. During the fest, many paddlers will venture out on the local class II-III runs including the Carbondale River (III+), Castle River / Canyon (III), Crowsnest (I-II), Oldman (II-III+), Livingstone (II-III), Cameron Creek (IV-V) runs. Also, as a highlight, many hearty intermediate to expert boaters cut their teeth on the two juicy lines of the highly photographed Lundbreck Falls (V).

North of the Crowsnest Pass Area, along the Forestry Trunk Road, West of Longview, you will encounter the ever popular Highwood River (III-IV), Cataract Creek (IV-V), and Etherington Creek (IV+). In high water, these runs are some of the best in Alberta, seeing multiple runs a day by class IV-V boaters. Just next door in the drainage North of the Highwood, the Sheep River (IV-V) and Elbow River (II-V) also see a fair amount of traffic at optimal waterflows.

Of course, now comes “the Kan”. Only 50 minutes West of Calgary, and only minutes away from Canmore, the Kananaskis River (II-III) is the tried and true river for the Alberta boater. The section from the Widowmaker to Canoe Meadows is easily the most used section of whitewater in Alberta. Host to the annual “Kanfest” this man-made, dam controlled section of whitewater is a perfect training ground for freestyle, and slalom boaters alike. It’s beautiful setting and crystal blue water attracts boaters from around the world.

In the heart of Calgary, after years of lobbying, and work from local user groups, the infamous “Calgary Weir” has since been transformed into potentially one of the best man-made freestyle venues in Western Canada. Dubbed “Harvie Passage”, this section of whitewater spans through two distinct channels of whitewater, and will play host to the AFKA World Kayak Harvie Passage Hometown Throwdown. Eric Albert and a very strong team of politically minded locals will be hosting its inaugural debut in late June of 2013. Check out the dedicated Facebook Page to keep current to the events leading to the event!You can also learn quite a bit about the development of this project by visiting the Harvie Passage Calgary Bow River Weir Project site.

Back to the hills. Heading up the Canmore / Banff / Lake Louise corridor throught he Rockies, many advanced boaters will have their palates cleansed after taking in runs like Pipestone Creek (IV), Johnston Canyon (V-V+), Red Earth Creek (V-V+) and the Upper Bow (III-IV). Just over the Border in BC from Lake Louise, the Yoho (IV-V) and the Kicking Horse (III-IV+) also entice Alberta double bladers. Heading North From Lake Louise, the Upper and Lower Mistaya River (III-III+) are incredible favorites for the intermediate / advanced boater. East from the Jasper / Banff Highway near Nordegg, the Ram River (III-V+) and the Upper Red Deer River (III) are beautiful adventure runs for Intermediates to advanced boaters.

Going North from the Saskatchewan Crossing enroute to Jasper, paddlers will encounter the glacial fed rivers like the Sunwapta River (III), Beauty Creek (V), Upper North Saskatchewan River (II-V), Athabasca River (II-III), the Astoria River(IV-V), the Whirlpool (III-IV), and many other natural classics.

North Of Jasper heading to Grand Cache, paddlers will get a great sense of true Canadian wilderness when they venture to paddle rivers like Snake Indian River (III-IV), Fiddle River (IV-V), the Lower Maligne River (III-IV), Muskeg River (III-IV), Sulphur River (III), Sheep Creek (IV-V), and the Smoky / Kakwa River Combo (III).

Needless to say, there are a lot of options for all levels of boating here in Alberta. One of the most renounced natural playspots in Alberta is the “Brierley’s” on the North Saskatchewan River near Rocky Mountain House. Eric Albert along with World Kayak British Columbia Ambassador Chris Ryman played hosts for the inaugural Brierley’s Hometown Throwdown & River Fest . This weekend event held during high water is a fun all-family event on arguably the best natural play feature in Alberta. Check out the dedicated Facebook Page for event details.

Oh, and did I mention…we are neighbours with British Columbia, Canada’s whitewater mecca!!

Come to Alberta and enjoy! We’d love to see ya!


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June 18th, 2018

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