Canoeing and Rafting
Canoeing, like horseback riding, has long been a form of transportation in the province, going back to the days of the voyageurs. Paddling provides an unparalleled opportunity for viewing wildlife around lakes that would otherwise be inaccessible. Canoes can be rented at all of the famous mountain lakes, but you can expect to pay for the experience—up to $50 per hour in the case of Lake Louise. Most provincial parks with lake systems also offer canoe rentals; expect to pay $12–20 per hour. Paddle Canada (613/547-3196 or 888/252-6292, www.paddlingcanada.com) is a national organization representing qualified guides.
Qualified guides operate commercial white-water rafting trips on mountain rivers such as the Sunwapta River in Jasper National Park and the Kananaskis River west of Calgary. Another popular river with those looking for white-water thrills and spills is the Kicking Horse River, on the British Columbia side of the Rockies. Guides also operate on larger, quieter rivers such as Milk River, through Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park; Red Deer River, through the foothills and badlands; Athabasca River, in Jasper National Park; and Bow River, in Banff National Park. Extended unguided trips are possible along the Peace and Athabasca Rivers in the northern part of the province, but these trips should be attempted only by those with relevant experience.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition