How to Float Down Calgary Rivers This Summer

Time to get out all your old swimsuits, sunglasses, floaties and river boats, because it's rafting season YYC!

That summer heat is finally trying to make an appearance here in YYC. Time to get out all your old swimsuits, sunglasses, floaties and river boats, because it’s rafting season! Perhaps this is your first year in Calgary and you’re new to the area, or you’ve never actually floated down the river before (don’t worry, we won’t tell). Whether you plan on jumping in at Shouldice Park, Edworthy Park, Sandy Beach or Carburn Park, there’s a lot to remember before you hit the water.  Here’s are the important points:

Choose Your Floatation Device

The most important decision you have to make is what type of raft you’ll take. The Bow River can run pretty high and fast at times, so it’s good to have a sturdy boat to ensure you have a safe ride. The Elbow River tends to run a bit slower, however, a good raft is still required. If you want to bring your own floatation devices, Costco sells huge rafts at a good price, great for sharing with friends and floating down as a team. If you’re looking for a rental company, Calgary is lucky to have several reputable businesses who will prepare you for a safe trip down the river:

  • The University of Calgary Outdoor Centre: Whether you’re a student or not, you can rent gear from the Outdoor Centre all year round. From canoes and river kayaks to rafts that hole 4-12 people, you can get anything and everything you need from this location. Simply pick up and return your gear within the same day, and they’ll provide you with a hand pump, dry bag and the necessary safety equipment.
  • Lazy Day Raft Rentals: Now this outfit realized that not everyone wants to pick up and drop off their raft when they have a long day on the river planned. Located in the heart of downtown, simply order your raft, pick it up and leave a vehicle there, drive a second vehicle to your drop location, float down the river and finish your ride right at the base of the business so you don’t have to pack it up and your car is there waiting for you. Simple as that.
  • The Paddle Station: Even one step further, this company does all the work for you. Show up at the designated river spot, jump in an already inflated raft, enjoy your ride and hop out at the designated drop off spot. No inflating or deflating, no dropping off cars and worrying about fitting all the equipment into your car post-float. This is river rafting at it’s simplest.

Pro Tips for Floating on the Calgary Rivers

Once you’ve got your raft situation figured out, here are some quick reminders to help make your river raft as enjoyable as possible:

  • Remember your sunscreen. It gets hot out there, so you need to protect your skin.
  • Stay hydrated! Pack a bag with extra water and snacks to keep you feeling top notch for your ride.
  • Bring a cellphone. Yes, you may be worried about it getting wet, but it’s a good idea to have a cellphone on board to call for help if needed. You can purchase ‘dry bags’ that keep everything inside from getting wet, so problem solved. Plus, no river float is complete without some summery tunes playing in the background.
  • Bring a lifejacket for every individual onboard. This is a City of Calgary regulation and put in place to keep you and your pals safe.

For all rules, regulations and recommendations when it comes to floating Calgary waterways, visit the City of Calgary website. Happy river rafting season, Calgary!

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