The Best 12 Paddle Boarding Calgary Locations

One of the best things about stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is getting to explore some breath-taking locations while out on the water, and Canada has that in spades. Calgary, Alberta, in particular, is a safe haven for paddle boarders of all experience levels. 

So, if you’re looking to explore Cowtown with your paddle board, here are 12 of the best paddle boarding locations in Calgary that will give you an unforgettable experience.

Beginner-Friendly Paddle Boarding Spots in Calgary

The following are beginner-friendly beginner-friendly spots for an unforgettable SUP adventure.

Including being a great workout, there are several fun things you can do while paddling, such as bringing your dog, doing yoga, or even fishing. 

Carburn Park

Directions: Carburn Park

Distance to downtown Calgary: 17 mins

Cost: Free

Best time to paddle board: Evening /night LED group sessions 

Located along the banks of Bow River, Carburn Park is surrounded by greenery and has two secluded lagoons. The bigger lagoon is perfect for a beginner stand-up paddle boarding session. Carburn Park also offers night-time group paddle boarding sessions with LED lights fitted to your boards! Dogs are also allowed here, so you can have a fun SUP session with your pup.

Carburn Park is dotted with wildflowers and has a rich wildlife, making it ideal for nature lovers. After your SUP session, you can unwind with a picnic or take a walk through the trails.

Bowness Park Lagoon

Directions: Bowness Park Lagoon

Distance to downtown Calgary: 25 mins

Cost: Free

Best time to paddle board: Anytime 

As a calm flat-water lagoon surrounded by towering trees, Bowness Park Lagoon is the perfect spot for first-time paddle boarders who are just learning the ropes. There’s also a shallow creek with barely any current that you can paddle through.

Summer is the perfect time to explore this lagoon. Watch the ducks and the geese or say hi to the resident beaver as you paddle along the water. You can walk along the trails or rent a firepit to have a nice picnic before you head home.

Quarry Lake

Directions: Quarry Lake

Distance to downtown Calgary: 1.15 hours

Cost: Parking: $20 for 4 hours

Best time to paddle board: Anytime 

Located in Canmore, this small but calm lake offers a splendid 360° view of the Canadian Rockies, including The Three Sisters. Quarry Lake is a perfect spot for beginners or those who want to paddle board with their dogs or children. You can also bring your workout clothes and have a nice and relaxing SUP yoga session.

The warm months are ideal for stand-up paddle boarding in Quarry Lake. Enjoy the reflections of the mountains on the water, warm your toes on the sandy beaches, or try to spot some local wildlife.

Lake Louise

Directions: Lake Louise

Distance to downtown Calgary: 2 hours

Cost: Entry fee: $10.50, Parking: $21/ vehicle

Best time to paddle board: Sunrise / sunset 

Nestled among the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park, Lake Louise is a glacial lake that boasts clear turquoise blue waters and a spectacular view of Mount Victoria and the hanging Victoria Glacier. It’s one of the most scenic mountain lakes around Calgary that you can paddle board in.

The best time to visit Lake Louise is in the summer when the water isn’t frozen. Get there before 7 a.m. to avoid the crowd. You can either go by car or book a shuttle service in advance. Note that you can only carry inflatable boards on the shuttle.

Note: You need a self-certification permit to paddle in Banff National Park, and a Parks Canada Pass to visit the lakes inside the National Park.

Two Jack Lake

Directions: Two Jack Lake

Distance to downtown Calgary: 1.5 hours

Cost: Entry fee: $10.50, Parking: $21/ vehicle

Best time to paddle board: Early morning / evening 

Located just outside of Banff on the Lake Minnewanka loop road, Two Jack Lake is calm with a perfect view of Mount Rundle. The clear emerald green waters reflect the mountains beautifully, making the spot very scenic. Two Jack Lake is accessible and dog-friendly, making it a popular spot to paddle board near Calgary.

Go early enough to catch the sunrise, have a nice paddle boarding session, and unwind at one of the picnic spots. You can also camp overnight at the Two Jack Lakeside campground and catch the vibrant sunset.

Johnson Lake

Directions: Johnson Lake

Distance to downtown: 1.5 hours

Cost: Entry fee: $10.50, Parking: $21/ vehicle

Best time to paddle board: Early morning/ evening 

Also located on the Lake Minnewanka loop road in Banff National Park, Johnson Lake is a beautiful lake, making it perfect for beginners who are just learning how to stand-up paddle board. However, be warned that the lake’s still pretty chilly. This tranquil lake is surrounded by some of the oldest fir trees in Alberta and offers a breath-taking view of Cascade Mountain as well as Mount Rundle.

Johnson Lake is a great spot for an early morning or evening paddle. Have a picnic on the sandy beach and dive into the water using the rope swing for a fun time.

Vermilion Lakes

Directions: Vermilion Lakes

Distance to downtown: 1.5 hours

Cost: Entry fee- $10.50, Parking- $21/ vehicle

Best time to paddle board: Sunset 

Vermilion Lakes are a set of three chain lakes rich in wildlife, located just west of Banff and connected by a series of channels. With calm and shallow waters sheltered from the wind, the lakes are great for some easy paddling. They’re surrounded by towering trees and offer a stunning view of Mount Rundle.

The Vermilion Lakes provide one of the best sunset views, so head out for a leisurely evening paddle and soak up the view.

Chestermere Lake

Directions: Chestermere Lake

Distance to downtown: 20 mins

Cost: Entry fee: $15, Parking: $10/ vehicle

Best time to paddle board: Anytime 

Just 20 minutes east of Calgary, you’ll find Chestermere Lake that stretches for nearly 4.8 km. With sandy beaches and several amenities, this spot is a hotbed for watersports enthusiasts. You can also get a license and indulge in some SUP fishing. Because there are no lifeguards, so Chestermere Lake is more suited for experienced paddlers.

Some of the best access spots in Chestermere Lake are: Anniversary Park and Beach, Sunset Park, and John Peake Memorial Park Boat Launch.

Lower Kananaskis Lake

Directions: Lower Kananaskis Lake

Distance to downtown: 1 hour 47 mins

Cost: Day pass: $15

Best time to paddle board: Anytime

Lower Kananaskis Lake is large, spanning 8 km. The mountains largely shelter it from the wind and the view is beautiful. You can start paddling at the Peninsula Day Use Area and make use of the little coves here if you’re a novice. It’s also a safe area to teach your children paddle boarding.

You’ll get to spot a lot of wildlife at Lower Kananaskis Lake. There are also picnic tables here, so you can make a trip out of it.

Barrier Lake

Directions: Barrier Lake

Distance to downtown: 1 hour

Cost: Day pass: $15

Best time to paddle board: Anytime

Located in Kananaskis Country, Barrier Lake is a gorgeous man-made lake with a huge shoreline. The clear blue water coupled with the view of the mountains makes for a lovely, scenic spot. You can also get paddle boarding lessons here from experts.

Barrier Lake can often get windy, so stick close to the shore. There are parks, hiking trails, a beach, and even a boat launch around the lake, so you can have a nice day trip.

Bow River

Directions: Bow River

Distance to downtown: 30 mins

Cost: Free

Best time to paddle board: Anytime

If you’re an experienced paddler looking for a thrilling SUP adventure, the Bow River is the place for you. The river begins at the Canadian Rockies and flows all the way to the prairies, giving you an excellent tour of everything Calgary has to offer.

Head to the Harvie Passage on Bow River if you want to paddle in white water rapids. You can also sit by the waterside and enjoy a picnic while trying to spot birds and fishes. You can also practice SUP fishing here, but note that the Bow River has a strict catch-and-release policy.

Spray Lakes Reservoir

Directions: Spray Lakes Reservoir

Distance to downtown: 2 hours

Cost: Day pass- $15

Best time to paddle board:

Spray Lakes Reservoir has crystal clear cold water that provides a welcome respite during a hot summer day. Soak up the Rocky Mountains in silence and spot the wildlife lurking around as you paddle along the water.

Spray Lakes Reservoir can get pretty windy, so make sure you check the wind report and head out on a calm day. There’s also a campground here if you fancy staying overnight and catching the sunset.

Related Reading: 8 Best Places for Paddle Boarding in Vancouver

The Magic of Calgary

Nestled among the rocky mountains and prairies, Calgary is home to a host of rivers and mountain lakes with breath-taking backdrops, making it a favorite paddle boarding spot for Canadians. Whether you want a calm paddle boarding session on flat waters, or want to get your thrill on in rivers, Calgary has you covered.

The province of Alberta also has a rich variety of wildlife and trees, which means you can spend some time soaking up the fresh air from the trees while you paddle. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a pair of otters holding hands or watch a bluejay soar through the sky.

The tranquility that comes with paddle boarding in Calgary is hard to match, making it one of the best places to enjoy this activity.

Beginner’s Guide To Paddle Boarding in Calgary

If you’re new to paddle boarding, here are some things to keep in mind before you head out into the water:

  • Never go paddle boarding without safety gear such as a life jacket, a personal flotation device (PFD), a rope, and a safety whistle. You must also always attach the SUP leash to your ankle unless you’re river paddling.
  • Get a dry bag to store all the essentials such as your phone, sunscreen, water bottles, and a change of clothes. For a complete list of what to take paddle boarding, check out our essential guide.
  • Mountain lakes are pretty chilly even in the summer, so layer up in appropriate clothing—for example, a wetsuit.
  • Mountain weather can change pretty quickly, so check the wind and weather forecast before you go.

Paddle Board Rentals and Tours in Calgary

If you don’t have a paddle board of your own, don’t worry. You can rent one for the day from one of the following locations. They also offer guided tours and paddling lessons. 

SUP Rentals Location Tours and Guides
Rocky Mountain Paddling Near Bow River Yes
Kananaskis Outfitters Kananaskis Village Yes
SUP & Flow Carburn Park Yes
Bow Valley SUP Rentals Canmore Yes
Banff Canoe Club Near Banff docks Yes

Can you paddle board in the Calgary Reservoir?

No, you can’t paddle board in the Glenmore Reservoir located on the Elbow River in Calgary. 

Can you paddle board on Ghost Lake?

Yes, you can paddle board on Ghost Lake as long as the waters aren’t too low. 

Enjoy Paddle Boarding in Calgary with Maddle

Maddle paddle boards are lightweight, affordable, and come with free shipping all over Canada. They are also super stable, making them great for beginner paddle boarders. Their portability means you can just carry them in your backpack to the location and not have to worry about finding a parking spot near the water. 

Maddle boards come in various colors and designs, so you’ll be the most spectacular thing on the water along with the scenery.

Camille Brodeur

Driven by the intersection of lifestyle and fitness, Camille's mission is to inspire others to integrate elements of beauty and aesthetic into their outdoor activities. Her depth of experience in the paddle boarding world allows her to inform and motivate others to get out on the water in the safest and most fun ways possible. Whether it be through her work at Maddle or elsewhere, Camille continuously strives to expand the public consciousness surrounding SUPs.


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