Raft the Kananaskis River

Kananaskis River

Scenic and thrilling river rafting the Kananaskis in Alberta.

The river is perfect for first time rafters and families, but the Kananaskis River also provides enough thrills for even a seasoned whitewater enthusiast. You will spend approximately 2 hours paddling, surfing and, if you feel brave enough, swimming in this glacial fed river!

The section of river you will raft down starts at the base of Barrier Lake, which is located about 85km west of Calgary, Alberta. The flow of the water is controlled by the damn of the lake, and can range from a slow trickle, to pretty roaring rapids, so if you're new to the area, best to go along with a local rafting guide, which is what I did.

The rafting guides we went with bring almost everything you'll need to raft the river, so don't worry about that stuff. The part you get to focus on is paddling when the guide says paddle, and to take in the awesome views and beauty of the river as you're floating down it. The section of the Kananaskis that you run is only a few miles, but takes about 2 hours. The guide will stop periodically to let you jump from rocks, or to let you watch the locals surf the natural freestanding wave that is created by one section of the river. The water is a clear, milky, turquoise color. And depending on the time of year you go, the trees can be bright green or, if you go in autumn, can be turning all colors or yellow, red, and orange.

For more information on the guide a local guide company, click here.

Pack List

  • Bathing Suit
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Waterproof Camera or GoPro
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Activities Photography, Surfing, Rafting, Kayaking, Swimming
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Features
Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
River
Cliff Jumping

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Raft Guide

I worked on this river for a couple of years as a guide and it's a ton of fun with less of a risk factor. It's perfect for families or beginner rafters or just those who are a bit nervous about white water. Try surfing in the rafts to make it a bit wilder, I still have fun going down this river after doing it 200+ times.

Great for a hot summer day

The Kananaskis river really has something for everyone. There are a variety of features on the river, from very basic to more advanced. It's a great place to learn and work on new techniques, as there are usually lots of advanced whitewater kayakers there to watch and learn from. A few tips: - Two vehicles works best if you're planning on doing a few laps, but most of the paddlers are friendly enough to take you to the Widowmaker parking lot to retrieve your vehicle if they have space. Bring beer as thanks, especially if they shuttle you more than once. You can also bring a bike and stash it in the bushes by the Canoe Meadows parking lot. - Bring a few towels, some for when you get out of the water and some for putting down on your car seats so they don't get soaked. - Bring beer. Put in river. Enjoy responsibly when done paddling.

Awesome!

Guides were great at making sure everyone was comfortable and knew what they were doing. I did this two summers ago and if I had more time I would go back!


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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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