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10 Great Places to Float in Southern Alberta Canada

Lake View Photo Credit- Andrea Horning

Beat the Heat at these awesome lakes rivers and reservoirs

Popular waterholes in Southern Alberta

10 Great Places to Float in Southern Alberta Canada often have people asking me where are the best areas to spend some leisurely time on the water to beat the heat. I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that we have quite a few great options here in Southern Alberta.  I will share 10 of my favourite water spots you may or may not have known about; some will be river floating and some will be lake floating. These are in no particular order. 

1. Bow River - Calgary, AB

The mighty Bow River

Most people are well aware of the fantastic river floating that the mighty Bow River offers. With multiple areas to enter and exit from, it is fantastic for those short trips or the longer rides when you want to spend the afternoon seeing Calgary from the water. The Bow is a strong, fast and cold river. Make sure to abide by the local laws and safety requirements for river floating in Calgary. There are a few local businesses that rent everything you need from life jackets to the raft itself. This is a point to point float and will not return you to where you started. Have an extra vehicle parked at the other end or prepare to take a cab back to point A for vehicle pick up.

2. Elbow River - Calgary, AB 

The slower shallower Elbow River

A smaller version of the Bow River and not far from its bigger counterpart is the slower more shallow Elbow River in Calgary. It is another 10 great places to float in Southern Alberta Canada with a few different spots to enter and exit from. It's also a great opportunity for a short float or could be extended for a couple hours. Plenty of locations and parks along the riverbanks to stop for a picnic. Make sure to abide by any local river floating safety laws and guidelines while floating in Calgary. Will not return you to where you started. 

3. Oldman River - Monarch, AB

Hidden Secret

This is definitely more of a locals secret but it's too good not to share. This is a wonderful shallow family friendly river to float. It is very fun to do point to point floats along this river with it being pretty slow and very shallow in most spots. Stop for a swim or a picnic along the pebble lined shores and enjoy the scenery of a fossil rich river with very cool cliffs along the way. You can also just find a spot along the river to drop your lawn chairs along the riverbank and enjoy a soak.

 4. Little Bow Reservoir - Near Lomond, AB

 A popular hang out spot south of Calgary.

This is more of a leisurely float with no need for multiple vehicles. Spend the day on the beach at the lake and enjoy the calm water that you'll find is actually a reasonable temperature for swimming. Bring your Sunscreen and a picnic lunch and you're set.

5. Traverse Reservoir- near Lomond, AB 

Another great spot just south of Calgary

 Also a fantastic area to spend the day outside enjoying the outdoors. No need for multiple vehicles as it's just a lake float location with a few different access points. Find the day use spots and enjoy an afternoon on the water.

 6. McGregor Lake- near Milo, AB

 A very active lake destination with warm water.

This is a busy lake with lots of boat activity but it's still a very enjoyable place to swim or float. With temperatures usually above average for most of our lakes, you'll be able to relax and enjoy some people watching in a pretty prairie setting. 

 7. Willow Creek- near Stavely, AB

 A cute campground area with a lovely creek.

Willow Creek Campground has a nice day use area and beach, this is a small loop you can do over and over again. You'll have to walk back to your starting point but it's not far. Or have someone be the driver to do the small loops for you. Ideal for kids. 

 8. Oldman River- Lethbridge, AB

The city of Lethbridge has 3 safe launch areas

Another great spot to take the family for a nice river float. A few different points you can enter or exit if you wanted to. The 3 safe launch points suggested are Popson Park, Indian Battle Park and the Highway 3 Bridge Launch area. Either have 2 vehicles or do a small loop that you can walk back to your car.

9. Highwood River- High River, AB

A small meandering river that runs through the town of High River.

Another point to point float in my 10 Great Places to Float in Southern Alberta Canada is in a little known river just south of Calgary. You can go bridge to bridge starting by Centre Street and exiting at the Hwy 498 Bridge. There is a decent size parking lot at the 498 bridge. A short easy float that you could likely have all to yourself some days. 

10. Red Deer River - near Empress, AB 

A hiding spot on the south eastern border of Alberta 

 This pocket of the Red Deer River is amazing. I'm sure there are many other spots along this river to spend the day but the area around Empress east towards Estuary Saskatchewan is sandy, clear, warm and beautiful. Tie off and float over the sandy clear waters or go for swim.

 Well there you have it. There are so many spots to enjoy the water in Alberta if you just take some time to explore. Not all of them feel like freshly melted ice!

Stay safe and stay cool out there. Practicing and teaching water safety is the best way to relax and enjoy ourselves. Be aware of local regulations and laws regarding water safety wherever you go. As always-leave no trace.

Popular Rivers & Lakes for Summer Water Activities 

 10 Great Places to Float in Southern Alberta Canada

Location (Map)

Alberta, Canada
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Comments 3

Eh Canada Travel on Saturday, 21 August 2021 03:34

Great list of Alberta water holes. Have to sat Highwood looks fun. One we have not been too.

Great list of Alberta water holes. Have to sat Highwood looks fun. One we have not been too.
Samantha Sewell on Saturday, 21 August 2021 03:35


Janel Coe on Saturday, 21 August 2021 22:55

Very cool. I wanna float in Oldman River!

Very cool. I wanna float in Oldman River!
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Monday, 25 October 2021

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