Between indescribable mountain views and calming waters, Calgary has a number of opportunities for outdoor adventure. One of the local favourite activities is kayaking, and there’s no shortage of lakes, reservoirs, and rivers to choose from. Whether you are in the mood for windy, challenging waters or a calm, shallow paddle, there is sure to be a spot in Calgary that suits you. We’ve compiled the 6 best places to go kayaking in Calgary, so if you’re in the market for Calgary real estate that’s close to the water, check some out near these beautiful locations.
1. Glenmore Reservoir
Located in the southwest corner of Calgary on the Elbow River, Glenmore Reservoir serves as a top recreational location for sailors, kayakers, and fishermen alike, so get out your best kayak for fishing. There are 4 boat launches along Glenmore Reservoir, including one that is wheelchair accessible! The rules of the reservoir state that you must launch from one of these docks, so make sure to not launch from the shorelines or any other undesignated spots.
If you need to rent gear to enjoy this picturesque spot, Glenmore Sailing School has you covered! You can rent single and double kayaks from here, along with new glass-bottom kayaks. Rentals and public use of the reservoir are available from June to October, so make sure to plan for the correct season and you’ll be on your way to an incredible kayaking experience.
2. Lake Minnewanka
One of the most serene spots in Calgary, the vast mountain environment at Lake Minnewanka is enough to make anyone feel small. Located within Banff National Park, this 21km long glacial lake is a popular spot for canoeing, kayaking, diving, picnicking, and wintertime skating. If you head to Lake Minnewanka for a sunrise kayaking session, you’ll hear the faint sounds of birds chirping, see deer sipping water from the shoreline, and experience the bright morning sun peeking over the mountaintops. Nature comes alive here, and it is an extremely calming place to spend the day on the water.
Lake Minnewanka offers canoe and kayak rentals as well, with a picnic area serving as the perfect launch point to the water. While this is a popular spot for boats of all sizes, the lake itself is so large that you’ll almost always find a quiet spot to yourself.
3. Ghost Reservoir
Settled along the Bow River, the Ghost Reservoir is an excellent waterscape for an easy afternoon paddle. A smooth ride, this reservoir is around 10km long and 1.5km wide, allowing you to explore all that the lake has to offer. The Canadian Rockies are not too far in the distance, providing a 360 degree view of Calgary’s natural beauty while you paddle.
Note that there are no rental spots available here, so you’ll need to bring your own kayak. On the bright side, that also means that Ghost Reservoir is typically less crowded than many of the other places on this list. In addition, prepare for wind and check the weather before you go, as it can heavily impact your ability to paddle safely.
4. Upper Kananaskis Lake
When you go kayaking at Upper Kananaskis Lake, prepare for more than just a straightforward path. Upper Kananaskis is known for several island stops, gorgeous reflections in the water, and a number of different paths to choose from. You can either park and launch out of the North Interlakes or the Upper Kananaskis Day Use Areas. North Interlakes is much closer to the launching point, while Upper Kananaskis Day Use Area provides more space on land to picnic, camp, or simply take a break for the day.
Upper Kananaskis Lake can be very windy and may make paddling difficult in breezy conditions, so we recommend visiting in the early morning or late afternoon. However, if weather conditions are stable and the skies look clear, you could spend all day out on the lake.
5. Spray Lakes
Closeby to Upper Kananaskis Lake, Calgary’s Spray Lakes is located in Canmore and provides an easy kayaking route. This 9.70 mile loop provides a calming paddle, with opportunities for fishing, camping, and picnicking along the way.
Driftwood Boat Launch is the best place to start off your adventure, offering docks, restrooms, trashcans, and benches. Since the lake is longer than it is wide, be cautious on windy days as it’s not difficult for kayaks to run into rough turbulence on the water.
6. Two Jack Lake
Another breathtaking kayaking experience in Banff, Two Jack Lake offers an active, but relaxing, day on the water. With vast mountains and curtains of pine trees as your backdrop, it’s difficult to grow tired of paddling through Two Jack. In addition to plenty of room on the water, you’ll notice some stopping points along the shoreline that offer camping space and picnic tables as well. Whether you want to stay a couple hours or a couple days, Two Jack Lake provides plenty of room.
The access point for Two Jack Lake is the Day Use Area located on the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive. You’ll be able to park your car here and launch your kayak from a flat pebble beach. Two Jack lake is excellent for beginners as it is relatively small, has crystal clear waters, and doesn’t allow motorised boats, but if you are a seasoned professional looking for a scenic paddling adventure, this will serve you well too.
Best Places To Go Kayaking in Calgary
There you have it! The top 6 best places to kayak in the beautiful city of Calgary. From forested reservoirs to vast mountainside lakes, you’ll always have a new kayaking experience awaiting you here. So look through this list, grab your kayak, and get ready for a scenic day on the water.
Aside from kayaking, Calgary also has a lot great places for other activities such as hiking. Check out some of the best places to go hiking in Calgary.