Is the Bow River open for rafting?

The Bow River offers many options when it comes to outdoor adventure. When it comes to rafting, visitors can experience a range of excursions. These include self-guided and guided river rafting along both whitewater and flatwater areas.

Although the Bow River is open for river rafting, there are a few things you should know before you head out. Read up on more information regarding Bow River safety, weather, and Calgary raft rentals .

Calgary Raft Rentals

Bow River Safety Tips

Bow River rafting is a great pastime for those looking to explore the area with friends and family, or just for solo adventurers. It provides scenic views of the mountains and local wildlife. Plus, you can choose more intense routes along the whitewater rapids or a chill day lazing along the flatwater channels.

Before you get out on the water, be sure to choose a Calgary raft rental that follows Covid safety guidelines. These guidelines include sanitization of rafts, paddles, life jackets, and safety gear.

Some Bow River rafting trips start outside of city limits and end in Calgary. The City of Calgary also encourages Bow River safety and you should keep a few of these protocols in mind.

  • All life jackets must be worn at all times while in the water within city limits.
  • Keep watercraft to designated areas of the river only.
  • Be mindful of wildlife and other conservation efforts to keep the Bow River beautiful and safe for all.
  • Your watercraft must include a safety kit that includes a paddle, bailing device, a whistle or other sound-signal, flashlights or safety lights, and a floating rope.
  • No intoxication, urination, or littering is allowed at any time.

Check Weather and River Advisories First

Bow River conditions are entirely dependent on the weather. The perfect river rafting conditions are sometimes difficult to come by. Too high, and the river becomes too treacherous to raft on. Too low, and your raft is sure to get stuck on the low beds. When making rafting plans, check the local flow rates via the Alberta River Basins chart. It also doesn’t hurt to stay mindful of any incoming weather via local weather reports on the day of your rafting trip.

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The only time the Bow River is officially “closed” for activities is when the flow rates go over 280 cubic metres per second. These conditions occur a few times a year during early summer.

Calgary Raft Rentals

With the Bow River open and ready for rafters, it just comes down to choosing your favorite method of rafting. Do you want to experience the exhilaration of the whitewater rapids or the slow comfort of the Calgary flatwater?

Whatever you choose, Calgary raft rentals make your time on the Bow River simple and fun. Our knowledgeable staff will help guide you through the take-out with custom-designed rafts. Lazy Day Rentals will also include everything you need to get your lazy on and enjoy the scenic aspects of the Bow River with ease. Start your adventure today on the Bow River!

Is the Bow River safe to swim in?

Bow river rafting

The Bow River provides many outdoor activities perfect for families, visitors, and locals. This busy river is a must-see when traveling to Calgary because there’s tons to see and do.

From rafting in the backcountry to relaxing riverside, there’s never a dull moment. Whether you’re Bow river rafting or wading in to cool off, safety measurements are important. Learn more about some of the common risks of swimming in the Bow River so you can stay prepared.

Bow Water Quality Issues

The City of Calgary closely monitors Bow river water quality every year. Although many people enjoy rafting and wading in the Bow, there are parts of the river that don’t meet recreational water quality guidelines. This most often occurs around areas that flow through urban areas like downtown Calgary.

There are many factors that influence water quality in this area and others, as well. Even something as unsuspecting as heavy rainfall can have a significant impact. Storm water drainage, wildlife, agriculture, and even littering upstream can also affect water quality.

Possible Health Risks

Because water quality doesn’t meet the recreational guidelines, possible health risks may occur. There’s a greater chance for microorganism growth that could cause mild to severe side effects depending on the individual reaction. These include vomiting or diarrhea if river water is ingested.

However, there are some simple precautions that you can take if you are planning on rafting, wading, or floating down the Bow. Before you head out be sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Refrain from drinking or ingesting river water. Even accidental ingestion can result in health risks.
  • Avoid eye, ear, or mouth contact with river water. Don’t expose open wounds to river water, either.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after being in the water, especially before eating or drinking.
  • If injury occurs while in the water, seek medical attention immediately.
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Other things to keep in mind

There are, of course, ways to be prepared for water quality issues. Guests of the Bow River can still enjoy a day out on the water through rafting, kayaking, or floating. Following simple guidelines like the ones above can help prevent health risks and issues.

Before adventuring on the Bow or other waterways, always scout the area beforehand for hazards. Assess water levels and inclement weather forecasts, as well. This will help you decide whether the river is safe to access so you can have a worry-free excursion.

Other items to check are:

  • Flow rates
  • Weather
  • Safety advisories, including health and water quality advisories
  • How accessible the put-in and take-out points are
  • Any known hazardous areas, including unsafe rapids

Another way to stay safe while rafting or wading in the river is to bring a safety or preparedness kit. Wearing proper clothing options, safety gear, and a life jacket can also help keep you protected.

Overall, following safety measures can help prevent the chance of infection or disease when it comes to swimming in any river. Guests of the Bow River can have a fun, and safer experience through Bow River rafting or visiting one of the many “beaches” along the river.

Here’s your 2020 guide to Floating the Bow River in Calgary

S-F /

The sun is out, and you’re looking to the river to cool off. We wish taking a good ol’ float was as easy as hopping into a dingy with some snacks and a pair of sunglasses. You’re going to need to plan ahead, especially if this is your first time. Luckily, that’s something we’re able to help you guys with! Here is our guide to everything you need to know in order to enjoy a full day of floating down the Bow River in Calgary.

Where to Rent

First things first. The basics! If you have your own drift boat, canoe, kayaks, or raft, skip forward! You’re already ahead of the game. If not, you’re going to need to rent a floater. We would recommend booking way ahead, because naturally when the heat hits, everyone heads out. All places listed below will have everything you need to take the Bow! They’ve got rafts, paddles, kayaks, and life jackets.

Lazy Day Raft Rentals

Where: 720 – 3rd Street NW, Calgary
Cost: $55+

The Paddle Station

Where: 5227 – 13 Ave NW, Calgary
Cost: $50+

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Sports Rent

Where: 4424 16 Ave NW Calgary
Cost: $55+


Now that you’ve got a raft, you’ll need to know where to park! We’d recommend having two cars and parking one vehicle at one end and the other at a starting point.

Typically, if it was any other year, Lazy Day Rental would actually also offer transportation. Unfortunately, their shuttle service is currently out of order but we definitely recommend keeping these guys in your back pocket for 2021!

Popular starting points include:

Carburn Park

Where: 67 Riverview Drive SE, Calgary

Edworthy Park

Where: 5050 Spruce Drive SW, Calgary

Bowness Park

Where: 8900 48 Ave NW, Calgary

Prince’s Island Park

Where: 698 Eau Claire Ave SW, Calgary

Sue Higgins Park

Where: Southland Drive SE &, Deerfoot Trail, Calgary

Safety and Rules

Safety is first and foremost on the Bow. We know some of you will try to resist because you feel like your rebel reputation may be on the line, but don’t. We promise no one will think you went soft because you brought the proper gear and survived.

All passengers must wear a lifejacket, and you won’t be able to drink a Bow-pop while on the water. Sorry guys, you’ll have to leave the good stuff on land. Also, because its Calgary, and the weather is super unpredictable, it’s important to note that if the clouds roll in and it begins to pour, it’s recommended that you pull over to the side (no matter how tempting it may be to ride those waves like a peg-legged sea captain in the first five minutes of a pirate film.)

If you have any other questions about the do’s and don’ts of floating down the Bow River, check out the city of Calgary website here!

Summer will be gone in the blink of an eye, so keep one on the forecast! Sunny days are ahead and you won’t want to waste a spicy minute of the season. Hopefully, we’ve helped you guys plan your Bow River adventure. Enjoy yourselves, and be safe!

Curiocity Staff

With a curated slate of what matters in your city, Curiocity presents you with the most relevant local food, experiences, news, deals, and adventures. We help you get the most out of your city and focus on the easy-to-miss details so that you’re always in the know.




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