When I moved to Edmonton from Winnipeg for university last September, I quickly bonded with my new classmates over a common love for running. When I asked them for tips on running routes, they all said the same thing⁠—the river valley. It didn’t take me long to realize that Edmontonians are really proud of the river valley and visit it frequently to walk or run the trails, take very instagrammable photos at spots like the Terwillegar Footbridge or Keillor Point Lookout, and entertain their playful pups at the off-leash dog parks.

This passion for the river valley left me with a question⁠—there are some fantastic trails that get you really close to the water, but can you actually go on the water? I was thrilled to learn the answer is yes! From canoeing, to rafting, to testing your core strength on  a stand up paddle board, there is no shortage of ways to get active on the river.

Already have a boat or paddle board?

Thanks to the City of Edmonton and the River Valley Alliance, there are boat launches and docks right here in Edmonton, including a number of new ones set to open this summer. 

Looking to get social on the water?

Check out these clubs:

Don’t have your own equipment?

Don’t worry—there are some great local outfitters who’ve got you covered. Here are just a few:

Haskin Canoe
Haskin Canoe offers a variety of tours and rental options for both kayakers and canoers. Set out on the North Saskatchewan River in a Voyageur canoe, or enjoy a sunset kayak in Elk Island National Park.

Aquabatics Edmonton
Aquabatics Edmonton is Edmonton’s resource for all things paddling. Not just a retail destination, Aquabatics Edmonton offers paddle courses, kayak tours, kayak fishing tours and stand up paddle board programs. From introductory courses to instructor training, Aquabatics offers programs and rentals for all skill levels.

Lake2Land Lifestyle
If a core workout is what you seek, contact Lake2Land Lifestyle⁠—they offer introductory stand up paddle board (SUP) lessons, guided tours, and equipment rentals. Book a SUP fitness and yoga class to challenge your endurance, strength and flexibility.

River Lifestyle Co.
Not interested in a workout? Consider floating on a river tube. Based out of Voyageur Park in the nearby town of  Devon, River Lifestyle Co offers one hour and three hour river tubing rentals. With both child and adult tubes available, a river float is the perfect activity for the whole family.

Safety first!

When you do go out on the river it goes without saying to always ensure that proper water safety procedures and equipment are in place and that you familiarize yourself with safe river levels and flow rates. Here’s a great resource to help you know when to go – and when to trek the river valley trails instead.

Hopefully you’re now inspired to get out there and #baskonthesask this summer!

If you’re a total newbie to water sports and this all still sounds a little daunting, don’t worry —there’s a great new festival called EPCOR RiverFest that was created just for you! This one-day festival is put on by the River Valley Alliance and this year it takes place in Edmonton and Devon on August 10. Now in its third year, you can buy tickets to float on the river in large or small rafts, Voyageur canoes, SUPs, river tubes, and kayaks. It’s designed specifically for novices to help you “get your feet wet” in a fun group atmosphere, and it encourages a love for all things river valley! Get your tickets today.

By Jessie Rew