Several years ago my husband put a four person raft on our Christmas wish list, and much to my dismay my in-laws ended up buying it as a gift for our family. I had been on a few guided whitewater rafting trips over the years, and really enjoyed it, but I was hesitant to hop in on our own and into unchartered territories – especially with two young kids in tow. Several years later, we have now gone on several river adventures down various Alberta rivers and it has become one of our favourite ways to spend time together in the summer.
Our most recent camping trip to Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park included an 8 hour float down the Milk River and I was reminded of why I have actually grown to love our river adventures. We got to see so many different types of birds and widlife right in their natural habitats, while spending quality time together in the outdoors away from screens. We saw hundred’s of swallows in the clay nests in the cliffs, floated right by cattle and deer drinking in the river, and saw falcons and American Bald Eagles soar high above our heads.
We have also taken our raft right through the heart of Edmonton and it was a great experience seeing all the downtown Edmonton landmarks and bridges from an all new perspective. The North Saskatchewan River provides the perfect spot to wet your feet with the help of some great local outfitting and river guide companies. If you don’t have your own raft, and an adventurous partner willing to take the reigns and push you out of your comfort zone, there are several fully guided float options. For the more adventurous type, we suggest you grab some friends or family members and rent a raft for the day to make your own river adventure.
If you are wanting to attempt a self-guided raft trip through the heart of Edmonton, The Paddle Station can provide all rental equipment on-site for a fun and easy day on the river. Book a raft for your group of 2-12 people and all required safety gear including life jackets, paddles and a safety kit comes provided. The Paddle Station hosts will be ready and waiting with everything for you at Emily Murphy Park and will give you a safety orientation before you set out on your 12 km float. When you reach the Capilano Boat Launch at the end of your 2-3 hour journey, employees will again be waiting to take everything back from you. Please note you do have to arrange for transportation of yourselves at both ends.
Location: Emily Murphy Park Canoe Launch
Address: 11904 Emily Murphy Park Road NW, Edmonton
Enjoy our city from a whole new perspective by embarking on an EcoFloat raft adventure through the heart of Edmonton. Join fully trained hosts from RiverWatch Alberta for this 8 km informal and close-up tour of the North Saskatchewan River. Travelling in large, inflatable rafts, participants will have the opportunity to get close-up and learn about the river’s natural history, water quality, environmental health and stewardship actions. Take to the river and connect to nature in a whole new way!
Location: Tours depart from Laurier Park
Address: 13221 Buena Vista Road, Edmonton
River Valley Adventure Co. daily raft rentals are an affordable and flexible option, allowing you to plan exactly how you want to spend your day on the water. Rafts come deflated, with everything you need for your float – oars, pump, bailer, life jacket and repair kit. Simply inflate and set off down the river, without the commitment of buying your own boat -rentals start at $99 for the day.
Suggested floats are:
- 1 – 1.5 hour | Launch from Emily Murphy float to Dawson dock
- 2 – 3 hour | Launch from Sir Wilfred Laurier Park float to Dawson dock
- 5 hour | Launch from Terwillegar Dog Park float to Dawson dock
- 7 – 8 hour | Launch from Devon Voyageur Park float to Dawson Dock
Location: Louise McKinney Park
Address: 9735 Grierson Hill, NW, Edmonton
Take a Illuminated Escape down the Sturgeon River and onto Big Lake in St Albert in these transparent, LED light & Bluetooth equipped hybrid kayak-canoes. Boats are available in 1 and 2 person and are ideal for beginners wanting to get out on the water. Please note kids must be at least 6 years of age to float.
Location: Riel Recreation Park
Address: 107 Ray Gibbon Drive, St Albert
Also operating out of Big Lake & Cardiff Park, Fusion World Rentals carries a wide selection of watercrafts including adult kayaks, junior kayaks, single and tandem paddle boards and fishing kayak rentals. Select the right vessel and rental length for you – they offer rentals from 2 hours, 4 hours, 24 hours and full weekends. All lifejackets, paddles and instructions are included with the convenience of equipment drop-off and pick-up right beside the water.
Address: 107 Ray Gibbon Drive, St Albert
Other Boating Options
The Edmonton Dragon Boat Racing Club offers another great way to get out on the North Saskatchewan River in the heart of downtown! Meet new friends as you paddle this large boat together as a team. All instruction, PFD’s and paddles are provided. Visit the EDBRC Open House to learn more and give it a free try, or register for a learn-to-paddle session throughout the summer. Youth aged 12-16 can learn the basic fundamental technique of paddling as part of the FREE U16/Youth Program.
Location: Edmonton Dragon Boat Racing Club
Address: 10296 87 St NW
This iconic Edmonton landmark is back in the water and ready to take you on a relaxing journey down the river! This is the perfect option for those wanting to see the sights from the river without actually getting wet. Cruise times typically last 60-90 minutes and offer a variety of themed events with food options and full bar service.
Location: Rafters’ Landing
Address: 9734 98 Ave NW, Edmonton