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Trips and Routes

Baker Park to Pearce Estate Park (multiple access points)
Bow River - The Bow River in Calgary is a fantastic float trip that gives you some unique views of this cool city. For the most part it is a lazy Class I float with hazards mainly being bridge pillars, the odd wood snag, cold water and high spring runoff flows. Check out the map for the different access and egress points on this stretch. It really is a great way to explore Calgary. There are great beginner eddies at Bowness Park. This can be great 'park and play' beginner paddling.
Ghost Dam to Wildcat Gas Plant
Bow River - This is a classic beginner river trip with tons of eddies and small features to practice and learn on. There are a few small class 2 rapids, both which can mostly be avoided by paddling around them. At the first split in the river, the right channel will take you to the first wave train. Right before the wave train there are some deep lagoons where you can practice rolling and t-rescues. The put-in and take-out require a bit of a walk with a decent climb at the end, so make sure you save time/energy for the long haul out. This trip can easily be done in less than 2 hours but it is also very possible to spend an entire day on this section with doing lots of practicing and drills in the multiple eddies and lagoons. This trip is great from early spring until late fall, with the water level decreasing throughout the summer.
Upper Bow
Bow River - A good shorter run close to Banff/Canmore. Possible to link this up with the Pipestone River in the same day if you had the time. There is a canyon partway down on this run that is a definite highlight and the most challenging section, perhaps class IV. After the put in you will navigate a bunch of Class II water. Pay attention after a few km you will reach the canyon. There is a sign marking it nailed to a tree on shore and it is fairly obvious constriction of the river. Scout and portage on river right. The canyon is short but technical. You need to make a few small boofs and avoid a few holes to make it through safely. After the canyon it is relatively mellow again, class II-III. There are two other rapids of note. One is a diagonal ledge that is after the canyon. The last is under the train bridge and is a few chutes created by large boulders. After the train bridge you are almost at the takeout.
Wildcat Gas Plant to Cochrane
Bow River - This is a great half day trip with a couple fun wave trains. People often use this as an extension of the upper section (Ghost Dam to Wildcat Gas Plant) or will go on this section if the water level is higher. Put-in at the Wildcat Gas Plant and take-out right under the bridge that runs through Cochrane. There are fewer large eddies on this section in comparison to the upper section but this still makes for an awesome beginner run with lots of great practice spots and beautiful scenery. Shortly after the Wildcat Gas Plant is Wildcat Island, which is crown land and makes for an awesome campsite for overnight trips or a nice lunch stop. You can easily link this section with the Ghost Dam to Gas Plant section of river, or, turn it into an overnight with a stay on the Wildcat Island Reserve (just downstream of the Gas Plant)
Harvie's Passage Right Channel
Bow River - We have broken this up into right channel and left channel posts. The river right channel is the Class II beginner channel. A smooth concrete bottom, great eddy lines, small waves and a good runout make this a great spot for beginner and early level intermediate paddlers. There will also be a slalom section set up in this channel
Harvie's Passage Left Channel
Bow River - We have broken Harvie's Passage into 2 posts. The main left channel of Harvie's Passage has some very powerful Hydraulic features. Please see the map for more detailed descriptions. Although pool and drop the rapids in this channel demand a high level of respect. If you are not comfortable in Class III+/IV whitewater consider paddling the right channel.
Banff to Canmore
Bow River - A medium to large volume run in a very scenic valley. The paddling isn't overly difficult but paddlers should be able to maneuver confidently on Class I moving water before doing this run. The reason being there are often strainers and awkward corners to avoid. There are 3 locations where trips typically encounter challenges. The first is a sharp right turn below the hoodoo's in Banff. Keep an eye out for wood in the river before the corner, as the current is slowly eroding the bank and will push paddlers towards the wood. The second is to make sure paddlers take the right channel after the golf course. there is a split in the river, river left is blocked by wood. There is a large sign indicating the safe route to the right. The third is the area just before the park gates. The river becomes braided with some channels choked off with wood. Keep an eye out to find the right channel to follow. This trip is a fun full day run. If you'd like to shorten it down for an evening or half day run, you can pull out at the end of the golf course.
Canmore to Highway 1 Bridge
Bow River - The run to the Highway Bridge is an easy class 1 section suitable for beginners. Small eddies on either side of the river are good for learning eddy turns. Spring flows make for a very powerful and swift current.
Castle Junction to Banff
Bow River - A medium volume run, with some fun Class II rapids along the way. Lots of meandering paddling, semi-regular strainers and world class scenery.
Bow Falls
Bow River - Gnarly. Class V paddling with high (read: very sharp, slashing rocks) consequences. Best paddled by those who are very skilled, very crazy or a combination of both. From my experience (2 descents), 200 cms is when it starts to get padded out. If you are running this you can figure out the line. Scout on the right.
Cochrane to Bowness Park
Bow River - A great float trip connecting Cochrane and Calgary. Ideally you want to do it in a boat that is 10' or longer as the paddle across Bearspaw Reservoir is pretty long in a short boat. Really nice prairies scenery and has a bit of a remote feel to it.
Fish Creek to Carseland
Bow River - A full day float trip on the beautiful Bow River. Can be split into multiple shorter sections if desired. Very popular with anglers.
Graves Bridge to Fish Creek Park
Bow River - A neat float trip through the south of Calgary. Watch for bridge pillars and the odd tree.
Ogden Eddies
Bow River - Neat spot in town to practice eddy turns, ferry glides and attainments behind bridge pillars. Can be paddled at a variety of flows, as long as the river is not frozen over.
Canmore Canal
Bow River - Fantastic float trip through Canmore. A great way to spend a summer afternoon for those new to river paddling, or those who like chill floating.
Lake Louise to Castle Junction
Bow River - This is an intermediate river trip with continuous beautiful world-class mountain scenery. There are several class 1 to 2 rapids in the first 5 km and only sharp bends & occasional sweepers after that. The rapids can be avoided by novice canoeists by putting in downstream of the highway bridge at the secondary put-in described below. There are 2 sets of rapids: 2 km of class 1 right after starting and the 500-m long class 2 Louise Rapid which starts under the highway bridge.
Canmore to Seebe Dam
Bow River - The upper section after Trans-Canada Overpass has possible log jams and sweepers in the first section which had a decent flow and made for an exhilarating start to the trip. Bends are tight. Scout around bends to ensure that are clear of log jams as a couple of the log jams had to be portaged. The lower section of this reach was slow and windy near Exshaw.
Bowness Park to Bow River Pathway Bridge on Memorial Drive
Bow River - Wide open river and dependent on weather conditions, relatively fast flowing. Very easy to float along with little effort required. Lots of eddies and flat water to egress along islands/river banks. Inner City paddle with occasional wildlife sightings.
Lake Louise to Bow River Back Country Campsite- Bo1C
Bow River - DELETE this trip description ENTIRELY. It is unhelpful and redundant because there is already a more helpful trip description of this section.
Bow River Backcountry Campsite to Sunshine turn off
Bow River - DELETE this trip description ENTIRELY. It is confusing and redundant, because there already is a simpler description of this section.
Lake Louise to Banff
Bow River - Delete this draft
Lake Louise to Banff
Bow River - This is an overnight trip starting less approximately 1km west of the Lake Louise Park & Ride lot and end at the Banff Canoe Club in Banff. This trip is approximately 56km and took us 10 hours to do in mid-July. There is a back-country campground right on the Bow River called (BoC1). You must call the Banff backcountry office to book it. The campsite is approximately 6km (45-60 min) past Castle Junction. It is on the left side of the river and should be obvious to anyone. Basically, you can't miss it. There are various hazards on the river, including trees, rocks, sweepers, and moderate class two rapids, at various points throughout the trip. The most technically challenging part of the trip is the first day from the put-in spot to the Red Earth Creek rapids. The water is faster moving, the river is narrower, and there are generally more rapids. Our group had two paddle boarders and one canoe. Both didn't have too much difficultly with the rapids. Budget 4 hours for day 1 (Lake Louise to BoC1 campground) and 5-6 hours for day 2 finishing in Banff. Expect more paddling on day 2 as the flow rate isn't as fast after Red Earth Creek.
Point McKay NW to Harvie Passage
Bow River - With the river so low I was able to see all the little river turns/drops decide to stay standing or sit down, some spots so low my fins would have hit.