17 Best Places for Banff and Canmore Paddle Boarding

17 Best Places for Banff and Canmore Paddle Boarding

Embark on an unforgettable Canmore paddle boarding journey through the breathtaking landscapes of Banff and Canmore. Whether you're a seasoned paddler or embarking on your first water adventure, this guide spotlights the 17 best places for Canmore paddle boarding, exploring serene lakes and rivers nestled within the majestic Rocky Mountains.

From the tranquil waters of The Bow River in Canmore to the iconic vistas of Lake Louise in Banff, each location offers a unique paddle boarding experience. Find hidden gems near Canmore and Banff that promise unmatched beauty and solitude. Equip yourself with iROCKER and navigate these pristine waters using the Blue Adventure app, your essential guide to the best Canmore paddle boarding spots.

4 Best Spots for Canmore Paddle Boarding

Let’s explore the best paddle boarding spots in Canmore. These picturesque locations offer serene waters and stunning views for your paddleboarding adventures:

1. The Bow River

If you're looking for a great spot to go Canmore paddle boarding, the Bow River is a popular choice. This gentle river flows through Canmore, Banff, Cochrane, and Calgary and offers stunning views of natural and urban scenery.

The Bow River

Paddle boarding on the Bow River is an excellent way to enjoy a beautiful summer day. If you're staying at a hotel in downtown Banff, you don't have to go far to rent a SUP. It's just a short walk from the center of town, where you can rent a canoe, kayak, or SUP. Rental options range from hourly to daily. Once you're at the Banff Canoe Club, you can head up the Bow River to explore some of the area's natural beauty.

  • Water types and level skills: The gentle flow of the Bow River merges into Vermillion Lakes and moves at a slower pace than other sections of the river.
  • Launch Points: Start from the Banff Canoe Club.
  • While much of the Bow River is fast-moving and intense and almost suitable for intermediate to advanced levels, there is a calm section with plenty of space for beginners to explore.

Note: More suitable spots exist for intermediate and experienced paddlers where flowing water can present challenging conditions. As a minimum safety measure, we recommend wearing a 50N buoyancy aid.

2. Quarry Lake

One cannot discuss the best places to go Canmore paddle boarding without mentioning Quarry Lake. It is a famous spot among water sports enthusiasts in town.

Quarry Lake is the smallest lake on this list, and it's generally very calm, making it an excellent option for beginners wanting to try stand-up paddle boarding in Canmore. Locals love Quarry Lake since it's a stunning man-made lake and a great place to hang out.

  • Water Type and skill levels: Calm lake surrounded by mountains and friendly to beginners.
  • Launch Points: Easy access from the shore.
  • Amenities:
    • The Quarry Lake Park is situated on Spray Lakes Road and can be accessed via car, bicycle, or by foot from Canmore. Once you're there, you can enjoy the ample grassy areas and picnic benches to relax and have some snacks and beverages after your paddle.
    • There is a dog park where dogs can roam free without a leash, several picnic benches, and a beautiful walking trail for a delightful outdoor experience.

Note: Unsurprisingly, this site is very busy during the summer, so if you want to avoid the crowd, head out early.

3. Canmore Reservoir

Canmore Reservoir is a popular paddle boarding spot in Canmore that is easily accessible from the town center and is no more than an hour's drive from Banff.

Canmore Reservoir

The reservoir's beautiful blue waters reflect the spectacular surrounding landscape, and the waters are usually calm, making it a perfect spot for beginners to try their paddling skills. If you're a resident of Canmore or nearby and looking for a great place to paddle board, Canmore Reservoir is one of the easiest and most spectacular choices available.

  • Water types: This tranquil reservoir has scenic views and is suitable for families and beginners.
  • Launch points: Easily accessible from the shore entry.
  • Places to go:
    • If you plan on staying in Canmore, there are multiple places in nearby Kananaskis Country where you can go for stand-up paddle boarding (SUP). The Canmore Reservoir, located just outside of town, is perhaps the most favored spot for SUP in Canmore.
    • You can enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Rundle, the Three Sisters, and Ha Ling Peak.

Note: Come here in the evenings since the water is often warmer than elsewhere in the Rockies, and the reservoir is less impacted by wind than other bodies of water.

4. Goat Pond

If you're searching “Canmore paddle boarding near me, one of the results that often gets overlooked is Goat Pond. Goat Pond is actually a tiny little lake that's located just outside of Canmore.

Although it's just a small lake (less than 6km in length, in fact), it's absolutely packed with wildlife to discover as you paddle through. The surrounding area is also incredibly popular with hikers and is a great place to spend a fun day exploring the great outdoors.

  • Water types and skill level: Calm lake with mountain vistas, great for beginner and intermediate paddlers.

Note: Goat Pond is a small lake located up the Smith Dorrian Road, past EEOR and Ha Ling Peak. It's a great spot for paddling as it's not affected by winds, is rarely busy, and offers stunning views. If you're looking to escape the crowds in Banff on weekends, you should definitely check out Goat Pond.

9 Best Spots for Paddle Boarding in Banff

Next, let’s explore the best paddle boarding spots in Banff National Park. These stunning locations offer serene waters and breathtaking views for your trip.

1. Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes is largely a marsh, so it doesn’t hold the brilliant blue waters like many other lakes around Banff, but it still makes for an incredible place to SUP.

Vermilion Lakes

source: unsplash

Vermilion Lakes are prime habitats for wildlife, and they’re well-known spots for birders. We’ve personally seen beavers, bald eagles, owls, elk, muskrats, and herons.

  • Water types and skill levels: Calm and serene. The lakes are well-protected from winds and have shallow waters, making it easy for beginners and families to kayak, canoe, or SUP.
  • Launch points: The docks also make it easy to enter the water, and you don’t even have to get your feet wet. Accessible right along Vermilion Lakes Road, near the entrance to the town of Banff.
  • Unique features: The three Vermilion Lakes are connected by winding waterways. As you paddle through beautiful forests, you will be flanked by magnificent mountains. The first lake is particularly amazing.

2. Johnson Lake

Johnson Lake is a serene body of water located just a short distance from Lake Minnewanka Loop Road. While it may be smaller than other lakes in the Canadian Rockies, Johnson Lake boasts some of the warmest water in the area, making it a popular spot for water sports enthusiasts.

We particularly enjoy taking a leisurely paddle on the lake in the morning or evening, as it's conveniently located near Banff town and the Two Jack Lake campsite. The lake also offers breathtaking views of Cascade Mountain towering over the lake. With its calm waters, Johnson Lake is an ideal location for stand-up paddle boarding or even swimming if you're feeling adventurous. Be sure to keep an eye out for a rope swing - it's a fun way to enjoy the lake!

  • Water types and skill levels: Refreshing alpine water. Its manageable size, lack of crowds, and protection from the wind make it a great spot to SUP in Banff, suitable for all levels.
  • Launch Point: Easily accessible from the shore, making it convenient for launching your paddle board.

Note: You should try an evening or morning paddle as it's not too far from Banff town and very close to Two Jack Lake campsite.

    3. Cascade Ponds

    If you're driving on the TransCanada Highway, you'll notice Cascade Ponds next to Johnson Lake. It's an ideal spot for beginners who want to try out paddle boarding.

    Cascade Ponds

    source: freepik

    The place offers a beautiful view of Cascade Mountain, with easy-to-follow trails and shallow waters. Please note that you'll need to bring your own paddle board to enjoy the peaceful ambiance of this spot.

    • Water type and skill levels: The water is still freezing, but there are plenty of areas of Cascade Ponds that are calm and shallow, which are beginner-friendly.
    • Launch points: Accessible from the shore, with some faint street noise due to proximity to the highway.

    4. Two Jack Lake

    Two Jack Lake is a stunning emerald green lake located in Banff National Park and is just a ten-minute drive away from Banff. It's one of the most photographed lakes in the Canadian Rockies due to the breathtaking views of Mount Rundle.

    It's also a popular place for paddling, so it can get crowded on a nice day. However, it's a fun experience as everyone enjoys swimming, kayaking, or floating around. We love to pack a lunch and spend some time relaxing on the lake.

    • Water types and skill levels: Although its water is not as blue as other lakes in the park, the striking teal tint in the right light is still noteworthy. Beginner to intermediate paddlers will enjoy the fantastic mountain views surrounding the lake, which is shielded from wind by steep forested banks.
    • Launching points: One of the reasons this is one of our top Canmore paddle-boarding choices is because it's so easy to launch. You can drive up next to the water to unload your SUP gear and accessories before launching in the shallow waters.

    Note: It is advisable to head out early in the morning to experience the calmest conditions and enjoy the best sunrise views, as the wind tends to pick up around midday.

    5. Waterfowl Lakes

    Waterfowl Lakes are situated along the Icefields Parkway and are two serene lakes in the park that attract fewer visitors than the other lakes in the area.

    Waterfowl Lakes

    source: freepik

    These lakes are conveniently located on both sides of the Waterfowl Lakes Campground, which we believe is one of the best campsites in Banff National Park.

    • Water Type: These two glacial lakes are clear and pristine; they offer stunning turquoise waters that captivate the senses against a backdrop of rugged peaks.
    • Skill Level: Intermediate due to potential wind challenges.
    • Launch Point: Explore the lakes from various points along the parkway.
    • Amenities: Even if you're not camping, a public parking lot provides access to hiking trails around the lake and a classic Banff hike up to Chephren Lake.

    Note: The hike to Chephren Lake is easy, so we're considering carrying our inflatable paddle boards in backpacks.

    6. Lake Louise

    Lake Louise is one of the most breathtaking sites in the world. It's hard to find a more stunning view than paddling through the lake and gazing at Mount Victoria and the Victoria glacier.

    The water at Lake Louise has a radiant turquoise blue color, so you don't need any fancy edits on your photographs.

    If you have inflatable stand-up paddle boards, you can pack them in a bag and take them on the shuttle bus to the lake. Honestly, it's difficult to find anything that beats paddle boarding on Lake Louise, so it's definitely worth the effort to get there.

    • Water Type: Crystal-clear glacial waters with some winds and waves, which are suitable for intermediate to advanced (due to boat traffic).
    • Launch Point: Shuttle access or launch from the shore at sunrise for a magical experience.
    • Amenities: If you have plans to SUP, you’ll need to arrive early in the morning to secure a lakeside parking spot.

      7. Moraine Lake

      Moraine Lake is one of the most photographed lakes in Canada, and you can see why when you look at the views. If you’re wondering where to do Canmore paddle boarding and Banff paddle boarding, it’s well worth making the trip to Moraine.

      Moraine Lake

      source: unsplash

      Moraine Lake

      There is likely no lake in the world more beautiful to SUP than Moraine Lake. The magnificent Ten Peaks frame the turquoise waters of Moraine Lake for a splendid scene. It’s an iconic view of Canada and, at one point, was on the back of the Canadian $20 bill. To hop on a SUP here and paddle across the glacial waters is a memory you likely won’t forget.

      • Water Type: Glacial turquoise. The waters are an incredible shade of vivid turquoise that intensifies in color throughout the summer as the surrounding glaciers begin to melt.
      • Skill Level: Intermediate to advanced (due to boat traffic).
      • Launch Point: Shuttle access or launch from the shore.

      Note: You’ll need to bring your own paddle board as there are no rentals other than canoes.

      8. Herbert Lake

      Herbert Lake is a small lake situated near the Icefields Parkway. After passing through the park gates and leaving the TransCanada Highway, you will find its location. Despite being a lesser-known attraction in Banff, the lake's beauty is unparalleled, and it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

      In the summer, it remains relatively quiet and peaceful. The lake is an ideal spot to enjoy a picnic, and a designated area along the lake shore makes it easy to launch a stand-up paddle board into the water.

      • Water Type: Calm and reflective.
      • Skill Level: Beginner-friendly.
      • Launch Point: Easily accessible from the road.

      Note: While you’re paddling around, keep an eye out, as there is a diving board. If you’re brave enough to take a dip in the frigid waters — make sure you pick a warm day.

      9. Bow Lake

      Bow Lake is considered one of the largest and most stunning sights in Banff, making it an ideal location for stand-up paddle boarding. It's a gentle river that flows through Canmore, Banff, Cochrane, and Calgary and is surrounded by beautiful natural and urban scenery.

      Bow Lake

      source: freepik

      Paddling on the Bow River is a popular activity for those who enjoy watersports. It's a great way to spend a summer day.

      • Water Type: Flowing water presents more challenging conditions; it is more suitable for experienced paddlers. And wearing a 50N Buoyancy aid as a minimum is a must.
      • Launch Point: Explore from various points along the parkway.

      Note: The lake can be affected by winds due to its location in the valley. It might take three separate attempts while on the parkway to place our paddle boards here. So, to paddle on Bow Lake, you'll need to catch it on a beautiful summer day with low wind.

      5 Best Spots for Paddle Boarding Near Banff and Canmore (Rockies Mountain)

      Finally, let’s discover the best paddle boarding spots near Canmore and Banff in the Rocky Mountains. These stunning locations offer serene waters and breathtaking views for your paddle boarding adventure.

      1. Barrier Lake

      Barrier Lake, located in Kananaskis Country, is a popular destination for stand-up paddle boarding. The lake is stunning and can be reached within an hour from Calgary, as it is situated near the entrance to Kananaskis.

      Barrier Lake

      source: unsplash

      Barrier Lake is hard to miss, as it is located on your right-hand side when you head towards Kananaskis. Visitors who don't want to travel long distances can come here to paddle, and it's easy to put kayaks or paddle boards in the water from Canmore.

      • Water types and skill levels: Surrounded by forested hills, this clear lake is perfect for all skill levels, with soft winds and gentle waves.
      • Amenities: Parking is easy on weekdays, and you don't have to carry your paddle board far.

      Note: For easier parking and more solitude, it's recommended to arrive early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid crowds during the weekends.

      2. Kananaskis Lakes

      The Kananaskis Lakes are some of the best lakes to visit in Alberta. The vast area nestled in the Canadian Rockies is perfect for canoeing, kayaking, or paddle boarding. The location is particularly popular during the warm summer months, but it's a beautiful site to paddle on year-round. There is a large parking area and boat launch. Motorboats are allowed on this lake. Kananaskis Lakes includes:

      1. Lower Kananaskis Lake:

      Lower Kananaskis Lake is a stunning alpine lake created by a dam on the Kananaskis River. Surrounded by majestic mountains, it offers breathtaking scenery.

      • Water type and skill levels: The lake is generally calm, making it suitable for beginners and experienced paddlers alike.
      • Launch Point: You can rent paddle boards from Kananaskis Outfitters at the boat launch. The tranquil waters and mountain views make this spot a top choice.

      Note: Be aware that weekends and hot days can get busy, so consider visiting midweek for a more peaceful experience.

      1. Upper Kananaskis Lake:

      The sister lake of Lower Kananaskis, Upper Kananaskis, offers equally breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains and numerous options for camping and overnight stays. However, this lake is more exposed to wind and the elements, which can make conditions more challenging.

      • Water Type and skill levels: The lake can be windier, so be prepared for some work when the winds pick up, which is suitable for intermediate paddlers due to potential wind challenges.
      • Launch Point: Access the lake from the Smith Dorrien Trail. Enjoy the views of surrounding peaks as you paddle.

      Note: If you're a beginner looking for a place to do Canmore paddle boarding, it's best to stick to Lower Kananaskis. Paddlers must have the necessary skills to handle sudden changes in the wind that can occur frequently here.

      3. Emerald Lake

      Although it's not exactly located in Banff, Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park is an incredibly beautiful and easily accessible spot for paddle boarding, so it deserves to be included on this list. The best part is that parking here is much less of a hassle than at Lake Louise or Moraine Lake.

      Emerald Lake

      source: unsplash

      The relatively small size of Emerald Lake makes it perfect for exploration by kayak, canoe, or paddle board. Emerald Lake is a freshwater lake surrounded by lush green forests and framed by the President Mountain Range. Its name perfectly captures the vivid turquoise hue of its waters, which result from glacial melt feeding into the lake.

      At times, you may have to park your car quite far from the lakeshore, and that's when you can unload your paddle boards first and then park afterward.

      • Water Type and skill levels: Stunning turquoise lake surrounded by peaks. Expect varied scenery as you paddle around the lake. The water's color changes with clouds, and new mountains come into view. The lake's glassy, green waters offer a serene paddle boarding experience for beginners and intermediates.
      • Launch Point: To access the lake, head to the canoe rental area. From there, follow a path past the washrooms to reach the launch point.

      Note: Arrive early, as the parking lot tends to fill up quickly during peak times.

      Paddle Boarding in Canmore and Banff with iROCKER

      Discover the essence of the majestic Banff and Canmore paddle boarding regions by exploring the 17 most captivating spots listed in our guide. From the serene waters of The Bow River to the breathtaking views of Moraine Lake and the hidden gems of the Rockies Mountain, like Emerald Lake, your next unforgettable journey on the water awaits.

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