Canoeing The Bow River In Banff

When most people think about Banff the immediate association is with it being a world renowned ski resort. And it really is fantastic for skiing when the snow has come down. What it is also good for however are other outdoor sports, one of which being canoeing. With so many lakes and rivers in and around Banff you’ll find more people in boats than you think!

In the summer Banff takes on a completely different appearance – greener mountains, clear blue skies, warm sunshine and beautifully still, unfrozen water on the Bow River. This change in climate opens up an entirely new set of things to do in Banff including mountain climbing and discovering Banff’s hiking trails but one of our favourite things has to be the opportunity to go canoeing.

Banff Canoe Club

Along the Bow River there’s only really one place to hire a canoe or kayak from – and don’t ask us to explain the difference between the two, it’s far too confusing(!!) – and that’s from a rather creatively named local business… the Banff Canoe Club! Who knew, right?

The team here are really relaxed and friendly and will help you choose you canoe, get kitted up with life vests and pick a paddle that is the right size. When we visited we certainly found it to be super quick and easy and had a laugh sorting ourselves out.

How much does the canoe hire cost?

The canoe hire is done at a fixed rate of $40 per boat for the first hour and then an extra $20 for every hour thereafter. Not only does this make it really easy to know what the rental will end up costing you (payment on return) but it also means you’re not tied down to a set amount of time on the water – you can be out for as long as you like so there’s no pressure to return or rush back.

We hired the canoe for around 2 hours which was plenty of time. This allowed us around an hour and half to paddle up the river and then only about half hour to get back so I would certainly recommend to do the same if you are looking to canoe here this year. As the return journey is going with the current it takes very little time and effort to get back to the canoe club.

Nick canoeing the Bow River in Banff

With all of your equipment sorted the team here will help you get into the canoe and if like us you’re first timers it is a pretty entertaining experience trying not to fall straight in! You are then given one pointer and that is to paddle upstream and keep an eye out for wildlife in the river such as beavers. Oh and don’t lose your paddles else you’ll be, well you know the saying…

Canoeing up the Bow River

Setting off, Sarah sat up front and I sat at the rear providing the steering of the canoe.

Sarah canoeing the Bow River in Banff

If you’re going to be in the rear seat it also means you can take sneaky rests from paddling without your other half knowing, shhh….

Nick canoeing the Bow River in Banff

Along the river you’ll have some amazing views of the Canadian Rockies and to be honest the view of the Bow River itself is quite special. During our visit there were a lot of forest fires in America which made things a little smokey but this just added to the experience.

Canoeing the Bow River in Banff

Unfortunately despite my best efforts (and continually irritating Sarah by stopping) we weren’t lucky enough to see any wildlife which was disappointing (we saw one Canadian goose!) but this certainly didn’t spoil the experience.

Canadian goose on the Bow River

The other thing to note with canoeing here is that you canoe up the river. That means you are paddling against the current so if you stop you’ll very quickly start drifting towards the banks and back downstream.

We absolutely loved canoeing the Bow River and would more than recommend you give it a go when you’re next in Banff, you won’t be disappointed!

Nick canoeing the Bow River in Banff

Have you already canoed the river or planning to this year? Let us know in the comments!

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