In Calgary, summer is a short season. In a part of the world where snow has fallen on the city in August, a warm day is not wasted, nor taken for granted. With its close proximity to the Canadian Rockies, interest in outdoor recreation is much higher than many other urban centres in Canada. As such, one of the favorite activities of locals over the years has been to take a raft, blow it up, and set sail one one of two rivers that flow through the metropolitan area (The Bow and Elbow Rivers) and float along for several hours with friends and family, eventually arriving in the downtown area, where drinks and food are had before packing up and heading home.
If you want to go rafting in Calgary next summer, while making new local friends in the process, follow the steps below, and hopefully, we’ll see you join the Pirates of the Bow/Elbow next season!
1) Tell Your Friends – If you are living in the area and you want to go rafting in Calgary, let your friends know that you are interested in doing this. Usually, many people wait for someone to assume the mantle of organizer, rather than try to take the “responsibility” of doing it themselves. If they don’t glom on like you hoped, or if you are traveling in the area and don’t know anybody, and your hostel mates barely look up from their phone/laptop, then it’s time to get on the internet. Fire up meetup.com and search for groups that get together regularly to go on river rafting trips, like this one. Alternatively, you could also head over to Craigslist Calgary and post an inquiry on the community forum. Yeah!
2) Get The Gear – Next, you need a raft (probably bigger than the one pictured above if you got friends with you 🙂 ). To fix this essential problem, there are many sports gear shops in Calgary that rent out rafts and associated gear for the day. The times I have gone on the river, I didn’t deal directly with the retailer, but this Google search should get you started 😉
3) Get The Raft To The River – This is a two parter if you can swing it. Ideally, get a friend to park a car at your take out point (a popular place is Prince’s Island Park downtown) so you can have easy transit back to where you started your adventure. DON’T INFLATE THE RAFT UNTIL YOU GET THERE. Seems obvious in retrospect, but it makes things easier, trust me! 🙂 If you don’t have two cars, a taxi will suffice, despite the added cost.
4) Blow Up The Raft, And Go Rafting In Calgary – Get out on the river and have fun! Just don’t be stupid like the folks above and forget to bring or wear life jackets! The water of the Bow can be shallow in places, leading to a false sense of security. It is always ice-cold, so if you get swept away by the current and can’t swim, you’ll be in serious danger of either drowning or succumbing to hypothermia. Bear in mind that alcohol is also officially banned (as is all open alcohol in public) on the river, and police boats actively patrol looking for lawbreakers. If you decide to bring some adult pops with you, exercise discretion and don’t draw attention to yourself, again, like these guys (I’m sure they are awesome people otherwise 🙂 )
Calgary is a city that worships the summer when it arrives, as the other 8 months of the year often feature winter weather in part or full effect. If you want to go rafting in Calgary, just do it – join the locals in making the most of the bright and warm days out on the waters of the Bow and Elbow Rivers!
Have you ever rafted some awesome rivers in your neck of the woods? Do they have the scene that Calgary does? Let us know about it all below!