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Calgary is full of adventure beyond the looming skyscrapers, trendy restaurants, and craft beer scene. It is a place for outdoor lovers to stretch their legs and breathe in the fresh air. Winters offer white-out snowsports and the summers open up balmy days riverside. So, if you are looking for the best places to paddle board in Calgary, rest assured there is an abundance of choices!
From sweeping rivers to vast lakes, this corner of Alberta is a firm favorite amongst Canadian paddle boarders for living life to the fullest.
We have done the research so you don’t have to. Get ready for when the weather warms up and plan your next outing. Here are the best places to whip out your inflatable paddle board in and around Calgary!
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Bow River is an urban spot in the center of Calgary, perfect for those wanting to get paddle boarding at the end of each day. This is a fun river to paddle with moving water and some technical challenges along the way. Because of this, Bow River is not recommended for complete beginners to paddle. Bow River is an intermediate-skill level place to paddle board in Calgary.
There are various entry points throughout the city and the water is moving. It can be an exciting and challenging place to SUP with rapids in sections, testing your river paddle boarding skills. We recommend teaming up with a buddy and using two vehicles – one at the entry point and one at the exit point. Touring paddle boards are a great choice for paddle boarding rivers.
Want a slightly more recreational float on the river? Head to Harvie Passage, a south channel from the Bow River. Careful redesign of this section has created fun small rapids to play on and banks perfect for watching the entertainment.
The Elbow River flows from the heart of the Canadian Rockies and meets the Bow River in Calgary. This weaving waterway carves through the southern side of the city and offers several places to enjoy a gentle paddle:
Some sections of the Elbow River are open to “catch-and-release” style fishing. This could be the perfect place for you if you want to try out your fishing paddle board next season.
Glenmore Reservoir is less than 20 minutes away from downtown Calgary and provides some of the safest SUP conditions in the area. There are plenty of places to launch from on the reservoir’s banks. We recommend heading to the Blue Heron or Blue Jay picnic sites for a relaxed SUP experience.
Calgary’s Heritage Park is also on the banks of the Glenmore Reservoir. This is a large Western Canadian history museum with working antiques and seasonal re-creations with actors – always a good day out for visitors!
Rent a paddle board or bring your own gear to Barrier Lake for a perfect day out, just a short drive out of Calgary center. This is a glacial-fed man-made lake that is big enough to spend the whole day exploring by SUP.
Barrier Lake has a number of beaches for you to choose from to make your base camp. There are hiking trails around the water that offer insane views across the landscape surrounded by impressive snowcapped mountains.
Looking for the safest place to SUP in Calgary? Bowness Park Lagoon is just that! Super calm waters offer a tranquil space for first-timers and kids learning how to paddle board. The lagoon is surrounded by towering trees, giving you the perfect escape from Calgary’s hustle and bustle.
This beautiful park takes on another role in the winter. As temperatures drop the lagoon freezes over, allowing ice skating opportunities!
Carburn Park is a beautiful green space in Calgary that has two ponds, one of which is suitable for stand-up paddle boarding. The larger of the two ponds is the one furthest away from the parking lot, so having a lightweight inflatable SUP will definitely be an advantage here.
There are plenty of SUP rental places in the park. You can also join a group for nighttime paddle boarding with LEDs fitted to the boards. A mindful flow and some time on your yoga paddle board will be more your style. Whatever you choose, paddle boarding in Carburn Park is always good fun.
Chestermere Lake is the perfect place to cool down on a hot summer day near Calgary. This beautiful lake stretches for over 4 km with numerous safe swim locations dotted along the sandy shoreline. Anniversary Park and John Peake Park are two popular spots for swimmers and recreational paddle boarders.
Note that this lake does allow for motorized boats and is one of the closest water spots to Calgary center. So if you want a more peaceful escape you may need to go further afield. That being said, Chestermere Lake is one of the places in Calgary to enjoy a SUP yoga class in the early morning with Wild Spirit SUP Yoga.
Stand-up paddle board with epic views of the Rocky Mountains at Ghost Lake, just a 45-minute drive out of Calgary. There are loads of places to launch your SUP from here, including docks at the marina.
Ghost Lake is also a popular spot for wakeboarding, sailing, and fishing. Just keep that in mind when you visit – it probably won’t be a chilled-out paddle!
The Lower Kananaskis Lake is a gorgeous natural lake that offers calm and tranquil stand-up paddle boarding. You can spend hours on the water, exploring the length of the lake and soaking up the spectacular views. There is SUP gear available for hire on the lake during the summer months.
Rundle Forebay is a great place for intermediate paddle boarders to test their skills and start practicing on moving water. Also known as Canmore Reservoir, this body of water is 1.8 km long. Where you launch your SUP from is super calm and flat. The current can become quite strong as you paddle the corner, heading towards the dam.
Spray Lakes Reservoir is a picturesque location in Alberta around an hour’s drive out of Calgary. It is a great place to head to with a paddle board and the water can be refreshing on those super hot days. However, make note that the water is considered cold! So maybe dip a toe in before you dive head-first from your SUP.
When conditions are granted, Spray Lakes Reservoir is a good place for novice paddle boarders to master the techniques. Just be aware of the winds. When the wind gets onto this reservoir it makes for very challenging conditions.
Two Jack Lake offers emerald waters and crisp fresh air. It is the most perfect place for an escape from the city with family and friends. During the summer months, this lake is popular for a refreshing swim and stand-up paddle boarding. Winter allows for recreational ice skating and hockey fun.
The lake is consistently calm, making it great for beginners to learn the basics of paddle boarding. It is just over 100 km from downtown Calgary. So why not take some camping gear and make a weekend getaway out of your trip here?
Quarry Lake is just over an hour's drive from Calgary, located in the Canmore area. From spectacular views and warmer waters, it is no secret why this is a firm favorite for locals to head to with a SUP. Catch the right day and you will have perfect mountain reflections on the water while you glide.
There is paddle-boarding equipment available for hire at this lake and you can bring your own gear. The sandy beaches and clear lapping waters make it a beautiful place to hang out for the day and soak up that summer sun.
Sikome Lake is perfect for family days out offering safe waters to paddle and swim. There is plenty of shallow water for the kids to have a splash about, while the middle of the lake is deep enough for a leisurely float on a SUP.
This lake is open from June to September each year and there is a small admission fee to pay. It is well maintained and has over 100 km of hiking trails as well.
Go West and you will stumble across Johnson Lake, a stunning glacial lake in the heart of the Banff National Park. This pristine, hidden gem is actually the only beach in Banff. As you dip your paddle in the water, you will be surrounded by unbeatable views of dominating snowcapped mountains.
Accessing the water is super easy from the parking lots. There are SUP rental outlets nearby as well. Just be prepared for some chilly water!
Want another Banff National Park lake? Check out Lake Minnewanka, the largest lake in the park. This lake offers 21 km of length to paddle, carving through a corridor of impressive mountains, making it perfect for a SUP excursion.
There are SUP rental and guided tours available at Lake Minnewanka if you require extra services. If not, you are welcome to bring your own gear along for the paddle.
Preparation is key to any SUP adventure, especially when exploring the incredible destinations in and around Calgary. The waters can be cold, the conditions can be challenging, so, therefore, prepare your gear to ensure maximum comfort, safety, and fun.
Calgary has some fantastic places to SUP just a short drive away. For spectacular views and inspirational paddle boarding, head to the Banff National Park. There are several lakes in the NP that are perfect for days out on the water, escaping reality with your stand-up paddle board.
There are several places within Calgary itself that are ideal for stand-up paddle boarding. Bow River and Elbow River are two spots that weave through the city's heart. Carburn Park is also relatively urban and offers some fantastic opportunities for a calm and peaceful paddle boarding session.
Alberta has many amazing places to explore by SUP, including:
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