by Tanya Koob
August 2013 (Updated 2020)

Stand up Paddleboarding (SUP) is the fastest-growing sport around the world right now for good reason. It’s easy, there’s a low learning curve, and most people can jump on a board their first time out with no previous experience or lessons. It’s also a great family sport because parents can take turns out on the water while the children play at the beach. Once you build up a bit of confidence, you can also start taking the kids out with you on your board. School-aged kids and teens will be able to try paddling by themselves on a shorter board, making SUP a great sport for the whole family to participate in together.
Before you visit your first lake, you’ll need to get yourself equipped with a board, paddle, and PFD. Few lakes near Calgary offer SUP rentals on-site so you will likely have to visit one of the outdoor rental shops in Calgary before you head out. Fortunately, there are several options.

SUP Rental Locations in Calgary:

On-site SUP Rental Locations:

For families wanting to try SUP without having to transport a board to their chosen destination, there are two choices in the Calgary area for on-site rentals.

  • Lake Chestermere is located 20 minutes east of Calgary in the community of Chestermere. The Lake Chestermere marina rents SUP boards, kayaks and paddleboats.
  • Barrier Lake is located west of Calgary on Hwy 40 in Kananaskis. It is a short 15-minute drive from Kananaskis Village for families camping in the area. Kananaskis Outfitters rents boards at the Barrier Lake day-use area on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Visit their website for more information or to contact them directly.

Other popular locations to try stand up paddleboarding in Calgary:

  • Ghost Lake – located on Hwy 1A near Cochrane to the west of Calgary. You will need to rent your own SUP package before you go. The lake can get very windy so time your visit for a calm day and try morning or evening when motorboat traffic is quiet.
  • Johnston Lake – located in Banff National Park on the Lake Minnewanka Loop road, this lake is one of the warmest in the park. There’s a great beach area for the whole family and the lake is shallow in many places. There are no motorboats on this lake making it a great place to try SUP for the first time in a safe environment.
  • Two Jack Lake – also located on the Lake Minnewanka Loop road, this lake sits beside the popular Two Jack Lakeside campground. Bring a SUP with you on your next camping trip and you’ll be the most popular family on the beach as everybody lines up to try it. There is a small beach area at the day-use area and the lake is warmer than many mountain lakes.

Good luck and have fun! I hope to see you out on one of the local lakes this summer.

Photo Credit: Cam Schaus