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Region Details

Looking for the best places to Canoe in and around Banff? Below are some great routes, trips and resources to help you Canoe in and around Banff.

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Diverse is how we would best describe the paddling in this mountain/prairie province. In the west of the province runs are characterized by beautiful backdrops, continuous rivers and cold water. Everything from mellow multi day floats in national parks to hairy class V creeking is available in the west. As you move further east the gradient drops but there are still plentiful paddling options for those looking to float mellow rivers in really unique surroundings. It is a huge province so don't neglect to look north and south too. A very worthwhile paddling destination in it's own right.

Area Sponsor

Aquabatics Calgary

Canoe Trips or Routes

Banff

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.
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.
Day Use Area
Two Jack Lake - Usually calm waters. When the wind picks up, it's sometimes difficult to get to the south end & the creek. The depth varies throughout. According to wannadive.net - Average depth 6.1 m / 20 ft Max depth 15.2 m / 49.9 ft. Easy paddling north toward Lake Minnewanka (not connected, there's a big dam). Possible to paddle almost to Johnson Lake Road on the creek under the railroad bridge.
Vermillion Lake Rd OR Banff Canoe Club
Vermillion Lakes - A series of shallow lakes that are part of the Bow River system. The main lakes are joined by small channels which are kind of fun to wind your way through. Paddling from the Banff Canoe Club on the Bow River up Echo Creek is a cool way to access the lakes. Fun for a short paddle and great with kids and family. Lots of opportunities for observing bird and wildlife.
Lake Access
Lake Minnewanka - Very large lake with endless surprises. This lake does require experience, as the winds can make this lake very dangerous, but nothing that should keep you away. It is a beautiful lake just outside Banff, Alberta. Full day paddle, but every second is with it.
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.

Resources

Banff Canoe Club

403 762 5005

corner of Wolf St & Bow Ave

https://www.banffcanoeclub.com/

Rad Adventures

403-493-9556

Banff, AB T1L1E8, CA

https://www.radventurescanada.com/

Local Paddling Clubs

Paddle Junkies

whitewater kayaking club focused on bridging the gap for adult beginner, novice and intermediate kayaking in Calgary and surrounding area