Alberta is full of canoe-worthy lakes
Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Jake Dyson
When you think of land-locked Alberta, water recreation likely isn’t the first thing to come to mind. But Alberta is actually full of lakes and rivers, many of which are perfect for a raft or canoe ride. There’s a lot of fun to be had in the water, be it in the glacial lakes of the mountains or the rivers that cut through the prairies.Float down the Bow River
The Bow River runs right through downtown Calgary.
Travel Alberta / Caitlyn Giorgio @caitlyngiorgio
Provided that the water is relatively slow, a float down the Bow River that runs right through the middle of Calgary is a summertime delight. It’s a long river that begins in the Rocky Mountains and rolls into the city, which means you can either focus on a mountain float from a location like Canmore, or a float through the city. If you don’t have your own raft, there are plenty of outfitters like Lazy Day Raft Rentals or Mukwah Rafting Tours to help you get set up.Stand-up paddle boarding in Banff
Johnson Lake in Banff National Park is a great place to try stand up paddle boarding.
Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is popular in places well beyond Alberta, but there’s something magical about paddling along an alpine glacier-fed lake. Bodies of water like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Two Jack Lake and Johnson Lake are all excellent for paddling and, if you’re lucky, you may even see some wildlife. SUP-ing on the rivers is also an option, though you should have some experience before taking that on. There are plenty of places in and around the mountains (like the Banff Canoe Club) to rent a board and pick up some tips on how to best enjoy a paddle in the mountains.Fly boarding and river surfing
River surfing is gaining popularity in Alberta.
For something a little more thrilling, flyboarding and river surfing are both gaining popularity in Alberta. A flyboard is sort of like a cross between a water-powered jetpack and a skateboard. Streams of water shoot out from the board, propelling the user in the air. A company called Canadian Jetpack Adventures rents them out at Sylvan Lake, located west of Red Deer.Thrill seekers can also try out the sport of river surfing. The Alberta River Surfing Association has some good resources for budding river surfers, especially urban surfers looking to surf right in the city of Calgary. The Kananaskis and Highwood Rivers also are prime for surfing opportunities.Kayak yoga
The Red Deer River offers great views of the Alberta badlands.
Travel Alberta / Katie Goldie
For something (slightly) more mellow, Adventures in Yoga offers a number of alternative yoga programs including Yak-Yo, a guided kayak and yoga adventure series. This one takes place in the otherworldly beauty of Alberta’s badlands near Drumheller — yoga enthusiasts paddle along the waters of the Red Deer river and then do a yoga practice in a special location. You don’t have to be either an expert paddler or yogi to sign up: an appreciation of nature and a thirst for something unique are the main prerequisites.Sylvan Lake Aqua Splash
Sylvan Lake offers natural beauty as well as a fun water park.
Travel Alberta / Curtis Comeau
Not all water-based recreation in Alberta is about nature — the Aqua Splash park at Sylvan Lake is bright and brash and very clearly not a natural phenomenon, but it’s also a lot of fun. The first open-water park in Alberta is basically a giant floating playground with a 15-foot tower, a huge climbing wall, slides, an over-sized trampoline, monkey bars and much more. The park is open for the season through to September 2.Scuba diving
Two Jack Lake is a popular spot for divers in Banff.
Alberta isn’t often thought of as a scuba diving destination, but there are some underwater sights to be seen. Banff’s Two Jack Lake, Forget-Me-Not Pond in Kananaskis and the Spray Lakes Reservoir near Canmore are all good spots, but Lake Minnewanka in Banff is one of the most interesting. The lake completely covers an old townsite that was flooded after the building of a dam in 1941. Divers seek out ruins from the town as well as an old dam and bridge.In the southern part of the province, Waterton Lakes Provincial Park is another favourite for scuba divers. There are a few places to dive, but Emerald Bay in Upper Waterton Lake is a particular highlight because divers can glimpse the remains of a hundred-year-old paddle wheeler nicknamed Gertrude.Explore Elk Island
Astotin Lake at Elk Island National Park is an idyllic place to kayak.
Elk Island National Park is famous for its herds of bison and other wildlife and the central Alberta refuge really is an ideal destination for any nature lover. Visitors can take to the waters Astotin Lake by canoe, kayak or stand up paddle board, all of which can be rented at the lake’s recreation area. The lake also features a peaceful beach, fitted with picnic amenities.Related