Written in partnership with Travel Alberta.
Since Alberta is a landlocked province, you might not necessarily think we have a lot to do in terms of adventures on the water. But thanks to our glorious rivers, breathtaking lakes and some clever businesses, Alberta is the perfect place to get a little wet and wild this summer. Plus, no jelly fish.
Float the Bow!
Floating down one of Calgary’s two rivers is definitely one of those iconic summer adventures Calgarians always talk about. But it’s always been a bit complicated. That’s because you need to get a raft, a few cars, a few friends and a whole lot of coordination to figure out the drop off and pick up. That’s why I’ve sorta fallen in love with a new business called The Paddle Station. The company is basically transit for rafts and kayaks. You can pick one up at Shouldice Park or St. Patrick’s Island and then drop them off further down the river. No worrying about inflating the raft, carrying it anywhere. You can just hop out and walk away. The day we did it, we found ourselves a car2go and were home before we knew it. If you leave from Shouldice, you’ll enjoy a float that lasts a couple of hours as it winds down the Bow River. The ride from Prince’s Island Park to St. Patrick’s Island lasts only about 30 minutes, but offers the most spectacular views of Calgary. And if you’re just wanting to try floating without committing a whole day to it, this is a great way to try it out.
Re-discover Discovery Canyon!
(photo via The City of Red Deer)
After being closed last summer for an extensive $2 million renovation, Red Deer’s Discovery Canyon is ready to be re-discovered. The lazy-river and beach attraction is free to enjoy. You can bring your own tube, or you can rent them for $5. Discovery Canyon runs until September long weekend, 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m, making it perfect for those long and hot Alberta days.
The official grand opening is coming up on July 21st and will feature a BBQ, entertainment and a few other surprises. The fun starts at 11am.
A splashingly fun slippery slope!
One of the newest ways to get wet this summer has just opened at Winsport! The Plunge is an 810-ft water slide featuring three lanes and it’s sure to be a hit with families. Admission is $19.99-$24.99 and allows you to slide as much as you want for two full hours! For a place named after our coldest season, Winsport is actually packed with summer adventure. After you’re done drying off from The Plunge, you can check out their 18-hole mini golf course, which features new turf on all holes. Winsport is also introducing a new adventure called Free Fall later this summer. Thrill seekers are put in a harness and jump off an eight-storey platform, where they’ll feel the sensation close to that of skydiving. Then, of course there’s North America’s fastest zipline, which has been featured on The Amazing Race. There’s also the summer bobsleigh, where a professional pilot takes riders through 10 turns, hitting speeds of 80+ km/h at up to 2Gs of force down the Olympic track, is open and runs through until Labour Day. And finally, the Skyline Luge, which is hands-down my favourite thing to do in Calgary. It’s like real-life Mario Kart. But don’t let the name scare you, it’s way safer (and slower) than luge.
No waves? No problem! Albertans are a resourceful group and although we aren’t particularly close to any oceans, that hasn’t stopped fans of surfing to find places to catch a big one. (At two, I’ve run out of surfing expressions that I know.) Did you know the The West Edmonton Mall actually has a surf club? On Saturday mornings, they open up the wave pool early to surfers and turn up the waves. I actually took a class a few years ago, and had so much fun. The pool is actually a great place to learn because each wave is identical, so you can work on your technique.
If you’re up for a bit more of a challenge, you can check out a few different spots that are known for river surfing, including downtown Calgary. Precisely one good thing came out of Calgary’s 2013 flood and it’s the river wave located right by 10st. NW. Since the pattern of the river changed, fans of surfing have flocked here to get in a little surf on their way to and from work. Even if you don’t surf, it’s a blast to watch people get up and try, and the fact that’s it’s located in the middle of the city, is just so fun. If you’re looking for lessons, talk to the good folks at Surf Anywhere. They also take groups out to do river surfing in Kananaskis.
What a Whitewater Rush!
(via Mukwah Rafting Tours)
If you like your water with a little bit of adrenaline, then the Mukwah Rafting Tours in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains might be exactly what you’re looking for! I’ve been lucky enough to go white water rafting a few times and it’s always a blast. It looks way scarier than it actually is and the guides always make sure you’re safe and having fun. Don’t want to get nailed with big waves? No problem, that’s the what the back of the boat is for. But that’s exactly why I always try and get a seat right up front. You can do half day and full day tours, but do the full day tour. Once you’re on the river, you’ll want it to last as long as it can. White water rafting is such a thrill that makes adventure accessible to all. If you’re looking for something for the whole family to do together and talk about for years to come, book your white water rafting trip now and thank me later.
Up, up and away!
It’s okay to admit that you’re still morning Sylvan Lake’s Wild Rapids Water Slide Park. But just because the waterpark is no more, doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun on the big blue lake! Flyboarding is something you’ve likely seen before and said “I should do that someday.” So why not make “someday” this summer? Experiences with Canadian Jetpack Adventures range from $89 to $450 depending on the length and group size, and come with professional instructors to show you the ropes, or water, I guess. Unless you get bitten by a radioactive spider, this is probably as close as you’ll ever come to feeling like a superhero.
Those are just some of the amazing ways to get wet and wild in Alberta this summer. But head to the comment sections and add your favourites.