The Bow River through Calgary is a classic urban day trip enjoyed by many people on a hot summer day. It is not risk free, be cautious around bridge abutments, there are a few small waves, and keep an eye out for debris and shallow sections. You are required by law to be wearing a life jacket. The most common starting and finishing points are Bowness Park at the west edge of the city and the Zoo just before Harvie Passage (old weir). There are a number of ways you could modify this and make your trip longer or shorter depending on what you want to do. It is relatively easy for an experienced paddler to go from Bowness Park all the way to Fish Creek Park in one day. This paddling trip provides a great way to get out on the water see Calgary from a whole new perspective. You can even stop partway through your trip for a hot espresso.
Be cautious when approaching Harvie Passage (old weir). This area is well marked by signs on the river and buoys in the water. Due to the 2013 floods this area is under construction again, you will need to portage on river right. For more up to date information you can check http://www.harviepassage.ca
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The symbols can be clicked on and provide some simple explanations of why they are there. You can also use the symbols to get directions from Google Maps to the put in/takeout. A handy thing!
There are a variety of options. People commonly takeout at either the Zoo near downtown for a shorter trip or at Fish Creek park for a longer trip. Please see the google map and plan accordingly.
People commonly use Bowness Park, Shouldice Park or Edworthy Park on the west edge of Calgary and paddle towards downtown, the Zoo and Fish Creek Park.
Urban paddling adventure!
This can depend greatly on your commitment to going fast or your commitment to enjoying a sunny day on the river! Roughly speaking you should budget a half day from Bowness Park to the Zoo and a full day from Bowness Park to Fish Creek Park.
Bowness Park to Zoo: 18km
Zoo to Fish Creek Park: 24km
Total Distance: 42km
This run can be paddled at all different water levels. It is best (and easiest) when there is enough water to fill in some of the shallow spots, 80+cms on the Calgary gauge. Above 300cms it will be moving very fast and require more active paddlers. The city has been known to close the river at very high water levels.
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