River Rafting in the Canadian Rockies
From mild to wild, the rivers of the Canadian Rockies are ideal for rafting. It's an ecologically-sensitive way to experience the scenery out on the water, and trips range from those for first-timers to experienced paddlers looking for challenge. Rafting outfitters operate out of Banff, Canmore, Jasper and Golden.
Any of the local tour operators will assist with your excursion, offering half-day, full-day and multi-day whitewater tours. You'll need a swimsuit and a towel, a warm change of clothing, tennis shoes and camping gear for multi-day outings. Some rapids are more difficult than others, get information and plan your trip around those stretches of river you can safely navigate. For reasons of safety, some age and weight restrictions apply. Whether you shoot the rapids in a heavy-duty raft or glide the peaceful stretches in a canoe, the surrounding shale peaks will inspire awe and spiritual abandon.
Many tour companies offer slow and scenic floats on the Bow River, where you can sit back and enjoy the grandeur of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. A leisurely river float offers excellent opportunities to view wildlife, such as beaver, elk and birds of prey.
Families and adventure groups enjoy paddle-rafting the whitewater of the Kananaskis River in Kananaskis Provincial Park, rated grades two and three. Half-day tours are a popular way for beginners to discover the thrill of the whitewater experience.
The Kicking Horse River is one of the most popular whitewater adventures in the Canadian Rockies. Trips start from near the Continental Divide in Yoho National Park and offer a complete range of rafting conditions from leisurely to whitewater rollercoasters down the canyons, ending near the town of Golden.
The Athabasca River near Jasper has a mild class 2 rating with plenty of jumps and thrills to get the novice's blood pounding. It's a two-hour trip safe for the whole family, and the river is easily navigable any time from May through September. The Sunwapta River offers even more thrills, and is best tackled with a guide.
West of Jasper through Mount Robson Provincial Park, Valemount is a popular destination for river rafting on the Frasesr and Beaver rivers. Operators offer trips for all types of adventurers, from beginners wanting a serene river float to those looking for an adrenaline rush riding the big rapids. The Beaver River offers the only class 4 whitewater in the Jasper area.