Everything you need to know to Float the Bow this summer

Jun 28 2017, 4:23 am

Written by Tammy Bogdane

Calgary is fortunate enough to have the Bow and Elbow Rivers flowing throughout the entire city with each river offering a different experience while floating.

If you are looking for a fast moving adrenalin ride, the Bow is the way to go. But, if you’re looking for a more relaxing lazy river, the Elbow is the ticket!

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There are a few things you need to consider before hopping on the river and heading out. We’ve got you covered, so you can get started!

River Conditions

Image: Floating allowed / Shutterstock

First and foremost, you need to log on to the City of Calgary’s website to ensure floating is permitted. Sometimes the city will issue a ban, and the public is advised not to float for safety reasons. A few reasons a ban would be issued include the pace, level or contamination of the water. So, make sure you check before you head out for your safety!

Choose your Vessel

Image: Canoe / Shutterstock

If you plan to float the Bow River, a dinghy or raft is your best bet, as they are stable and strong enough to stay afloat on the fast moving currents. When it comes to floating on the lazy Elbow River, there are more options including dinghy, rafts, or flamingos! There are areas you can paddleboard or surf too!  Basically anything that will keep you afloat, as the pace of the river is much slower.

Safety First

Me scared of the pool? Water you talkin bout 😏 #LifeJacketSwag

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You must wear a life preserver while floating on the rivers.

The Bow is fast moving, and if you happen to fall off, you don’t want to be caught in the current. Floating on the rivers is fun, but can also be dangerous, so make sure you are properly prepared. Don’t forget a life preserver for your furry friends; even they should wear one to protect them from the currents in both rivers.

Remember, alcohol is not permitted on the rivers, so keep it sober for this ride!

Where to rent

If you have your own raft you’re golden, but if you need to rent one (and some life jackets) then there are a few places around town you can. Quick tip would be to book your raft ahead of time as these places sell out quickly on a hot day.

You can check out Lazy Day Raft Rentals, Sports Rent, The Paddle Station and the Outdoor Centre at the University of Calgary.

End Point


Floatin’! #floatthebow #thebow #yyc #yycliving #sundayfunday

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Decide where you want to get off the river, and have a vehicle stationed there to carry you and your supplies back. All too often people get on their rafts, float down and find themselves stranded with a ton of stuff and no way to get back home.

Planning is the key to this fun endeavour.

Start Point


It’s go time, now that you have checked for any bans, found your vessel, round up some life preservers and dropped the car off where you plan to end you are ready to head to the start point, and  jump in your boat to get floating!

A few places to begin on the Bow include Bowness Park, Edworthy Park, Prince’s Island Park, Carburn Park, Sue Higgins Park or Douglas Bank Park. These appear in descending order with the flow of the river, so it is best to start near the top of the list and end near the bottom of the list.

To float the Elbow River, a great starting point is Sandy Beach, this will take you down by 25th Ave. which is a great end point, as this river flows much more slowly.

🇮🇪🇬🇧🇨🇦 + ☀️🚣🏼🍻 = 👌🏼 #floatthebow #yyc

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Now that summer is in full swing, get out there and enjoy every minute of it! Be sure to tag @dailyhivecalgary in your photos while you venture down the rivers!

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