Banff Canoeing

River canoeing is limited in the park but the North Saskatchewn and the Bow provide extended trip for paddlers. The North Saskatchewn put in is approximately 26km north of the Saskatchewan River Crossing, below the gorge at the junction of the Alexandra. The river follows the Icefiield Parkway south before veering east beside Highway 11 where it leaves the park.


You can make use of the Rampart Campground or Hostel on route. The river route has some class I and II sections (the class II areas can turn into class III depending on condtions - check with the park before you set out) and an unnavigable section above the Saskatchewan Crossing which has a portage. The river is navigable (with a difficult section in the Whirpool) outside the park and has two more campgrounds along this stretch. For details, conditions and restrictions contact the park.

The Bow River is also designated for paddlers. The park has pamphlets which break the river down into three seperate sections:

Lake Louise to Castle Junction - 22km (3-3.5hr), Intermediate

Castle Junction to Banff - 32km (5-6hr), Intermediate

Bow River Falls to Canmore - 23km (4hr), Advanced

Sweepers and strainers are a very real problem and the park's pamphlets suggest that all bends be approached with caution (better still scout all blind corners) on the inside (slower current). Consult the park for more information.

There are 480 bodies of water in the park, many of them glacier-fed with the spectacular turquoise color of Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Peyto Lake which are 3 of the most well known in the park.

Lake paddlers can rent canoes from the boathouse at Chateau Lake Louise and do some quiet paddling on Lake Louise.Other Lakes which you might consider are Minnewanka, Hector, Two Jack, Moraine, Herbert and Waterfowl. Keep to the shoreline on the larger lakes as quickly rising winds can whip them into a fury.



Banff protects the headwaters of the Bow and North Saskatchewan, which is a Canadian Heritage River. There  is rafting in the Park on the Bow River, and while the trips are relatively short float trips, they are extremely scenic. There are more extreme trips availale in the regions surrounding the park.


The Kicking Horse River about 1.5hrs from Banff in Yoho along with the Kanaskis River below the park are the prime whitewater rivers in the area. The kicking horse is particulary well know to paddlers and sees a lot of kayakers throughout the warmer months.

White water paddling is inherently dangerous. Make sure you have the proper training, knowledge and equipment before you attempt any river or rapid. Take advantage of guides and instructors and hone your skills on easier runs to ensure your abilities are up to snuff. Never paddle alone.

Note: Out-There is a clearing house for information not a source. These listings are to be used only as a reference and in no way constitute a guide to white water paddling in the areas described. Check with the park, local schools and outdoor shops regarding rivers and conditions before you set out, but remember conditions can change in the blink of an eye.





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