Alberta in Western Canada is not only home to over 600 lakes, but it also boasts a diverse range of landscapes from deserts and mountains to prairies and forests.
As I’m sure you can imagine, with as many lakes as Alberta has, there are endless opportunities for paddle boarding, and although you can pretty much launch your paddle board anywhere, there are some waterways that truly stand out from the rest.
If you’re thinking about taking your SUP to Alberta, you’ve come to the right place, as this article is going to highlight 13 of the most picturesque waterways the province has to offer. So, for those looking for the best places to paddle board in Alberta, keep on reading!
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Barrier Lake is a man-made reservoir in southern Alberta that has crystal blue waters and a stunning mountainous backdrop. The views you get from the water are truly magnificent, and you can spend hours paddling along, taking in the sights, and enjoying your time out in nature.
If you do choose to paddle at Barrier Lake, however, you should know that the water in the lake is extremely cold all year round, so make sure you’ve dressed appropriately for cold water paddling. For information on cold weather paddling gear, head over to The Best Gear and Clothes for Cold Weather Paddling.
If you prefer to paddle on waters with a slight current, then the Bow River that begins in the Canadian Rockies is a fantastic option for paddlers of all abilities. The river has rapids of Class I, which are manageable by even beginner paddlers, and with 587 kilometers of water to explore, you can spend an entire weekend paddling along, enjoying Alberta and its breathtaking natural beauty.
If you do plan to camp along your Bow River paddling journey, you’ll find numerous campsites that line the banks of the river, especially towards the city of Calgary in Southern Alberta. Alternatively, if camping isn't your thing, you could even practice your SUP fishing skills, as the river has a thriving population of brown trout and rainbow trout.
The Canmore Reservoir, which many people also refer to as the Spray Lakes Reservoir, is another man-made reservoir in southern Alberta that has impeccable mountain views and ideal waters that are perfect for paddle boarding.
Many lakes within Alberta have waters that can reach extremely low temperatures, and that is no exception to the Canmore Reservoir. You will need to wrap up warm to paddle here, but with the help of the boat launch and a little balance, you should be able to avoid the water altogether, depending on if you can remain on your SUP for the entire duration of your paddle that is.
We hope you like mountains because while paddle boarding in Alberta, you sure do see a lot of them. Cameron Lake sits at the end of the 16 km Akamina Parkway, and with hiking trails, picnic sites, and the lake itself, you will never be strapped for things to do when visiting the area.
The lake shores are met with beautiful alpine trees, a steep mountain wall, and some incredible wildlife that you can view from the comfort of your SUP. We highly recommend packing your binoculars or your camera, as you should be able to witness a range of bird species, marmots, and maybe even grizzly bears.
Johnson Lake in Banff, Alberta, is one of the warmer lakes in the province, as it is less affected by wind. As well as being slightly warmer and less windy, Johnson Lake is also a quiet lake making it an excellent destination for beginner paddlers who want to practice their paddling skills.
When you’ve finished up on the water, you can kick back and relax on the lake’s shores, gaze at the alpine forests and mountain views, or head off on the walking trail that wraps itself around the entire lake. For those after a more peaceful stand-up paddle boarding experience, then we highly suggest putting Johnson Lake at the top of your list.
If you’re sick of looking at mountains, then Lac Le Biche is the perfect place for the entire family to launch their paddle boards. Lac Le Biche in the Lac Le Biche region in northeast Alberta is the biggest lake of over 100 lakes, and with ideal paddling conditions, various campsites, and other interesting attractions, it is the ultimate weekend getaway destination.
One of our favorite things to do at Lac Le Biche is to paddle under the northern lights. It isn’t every day you get to sit on top of your SUP and witness the greatest light show on the planet, so make sure you add it to your paddling bucket list, as it is something your friends will be truly envious of.
We have put together an entire article on Everything You Need to Know About Paddle Boarding at Night so you can be fully prepared for the experience.
Lake Louise is very well known for its turquoise glacier-fed waters, which has made it one of the most photographed lakes in the whole of Canada. As the lake is so popular with photographers, it does get fairly busy all year round, and although that can be off-putting, there is nothing quite like paddling on spectacularly colored water with the snowcapped Mount Victoria in the background.
At GILI, we usually prefer paddling in quieter waters, but we’d always make an exception for Lake Louise as it truly is one of the most amazing waterways in the world.
Maligne Lake in the Jasper National Park has azure waters, scenic shores, towering peaks, and the popular Spirit Island, which is another famed photography spot in Alberta. While visiting Maligne Lake, you can paddle over to Spirit Island, fish from your stand-up paddle board, or camp in one of three campsites that are only accessible by personal watercraft.
Moraine Lake is yet another glacier-fed blue-green-colored lake that should definitely be on your Alberta paddle-boarding bucket list. Throughout the summer, as the glaciers melt, the intensity of the turquoise-colored water changes, so it’s best to head to Moraine Lake in June when the color is at its peak.
We also suggest sticking around Moraine Lake for sunset as the pink skies reflect off the water, which only amplifies the beauty of the lake even further.
The intense and almost unbelievable blue waters continue at Peyto Lake, which is one of the most famous lakes in Banff National Park. Regardless of its fame, Peyto Lake is still slightly quieter than Moraine Lake, so if you want to paddle in the stunning blue waters, but you don’t want to be engulfed by crowds, then Peyto may be a better option for you.
After your paddle, be sure to head up to one of the many viewpoints to see the lake from a different perspective, as the brilliant blue color will truly take your breath away.
Quarry Lake offers up a slightly different vibe to other lakes in Alberta mainly because of its surrounding grass lawns equipped with picnic tables. If you’re after a relaxing afternoon with a combination of paddle boarding, swimming, and sitting in the sun, then Quarry Lake is a fantastic option.
Two Jack Lake is one of the best places in Banff to witness the sunset or sunrise, and if you have a paddle board, you have a free front-row seat to the show. As with many lakes in Alberta, during the winter, the water freezes over, meaning you’ll need to plan your paddling trip accordingly to coincide with Canada’s summer.
Two Jack Lake, compared to other lakes, is very easy to access, and with toilets and picnic areas, you can spend the morning, afternoon, or full day at the lake without any issues.
The final paddle-boarding location on our list is Wedge Pond in southern Alberta. If you’re staying in Calgary, Wedge Pond is an excellent little weekend getaway, as it is only an hour and a half drive out of the city.
You can pitch your tent, paddle your days away, and even set off on a hike or two, all while enjoying the surrounding nature and the huge unforgettable mountains of the Canadian Rockies.
Alberta is the mothership for picturesque paddle boarding locations, and in our opinion, it would be incredibly difficult to get bored of the paddling opportunities the province has to offer. Some of our favorite Albertan paddle-boarding destinations include:
Yes, you can paddle board in the Banff National Park, and you’ll be happy to know that the park is actually home to some of Alberta’s most beautiful lakes. Some of the national park’s most visited lakes include the Vermilion Lakes, Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Bow Lake, and Peyto Lake, as well as many others that are definitely worth visiting.
In Canmore, there are three fantastic places to paddle board. The first is the Bow River which offers paddlers a peaceful paddle with slight currents, the second is Quarry Lake, with a beautiful mountainous backdrop. And the third is Grassi Lakes which has some of the clearest waters imaginable.
Alberta sees harsh winters, and warm summers, which makes it hard to figure out what things you need to take paddle boarding.
Although you most likely won’t be paddling in the winter months as many of Alberta’s lakes freeze over, in the months leading to and following, you will need to wrap up warm with many layers. We have put together an entire gear list for cold weather paddling over on The Best Gear and Clothes for Cold Weather Paddling.
During Alberta’s summer months, however, when the sun is shining, you can often paddle in a swimsuit and a life jacket, accompanied by SPF, sunglasses, a sunhat, and UV protective clothing.
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