Mistaya River (AB) - Canyon III
A committing scenic pool drop run through a deep limestone canyon. Most of the canyon is scoutable from the canyon rim. It is a good idea to get some local beta on this one as it is very committing and portaging is not an option if a log jam obstructs the flow.
The first rapid is the crux with a bit of class III-III+ boogie water. The rest of the rapids are fairly straight forward read and run grade III-III+, with calmer I-II+ sections in between. It is recommended that you only attempt this run if you are very comfortable in this type of whitewater as swimming is not recommended due to numerous tight corners, very few 'outs', and several undercut headwalls.
After the Canyon the river opens up and shows off stunning scenery as it flows over gravel bed with grade I-II rapids for ~1km to the confluence with the North Saskatchewan river, float for a few minutes and take in the peaks until arriving at the takeout just upstream of the Hwy93 Bridge.
At higher flows this can turn into a class IV so be aware when you are putting on – death due to flush drowning occurred in 2003 following a swim after the first hole at high water.
If this space is blank there have been no alerts posted for this specific river.
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!
From Jasper go South on Hwy 93 ~1.5 hrs until you reach the bridge over the North Saskatchewan River. Just after the bridge turn right(West) onto the side road which doubles back towards the river. Park at the end of the road.
Parking for the Put In doubles as that for the Take Out for the Upper Mistaya section… From the Canyon Take Out drive South on Hwy 93 up the hill to the Mistaya Canyon pullout ~3km located on the West side of the Hwy. Hike in along the trail to the river bridge ~1Km.
Put In #1: This put in is the hairier and least used of the two but adds one class III/III+ rapid and 150m white water. It is also the put in described in Stuart Smith's guidebook. Cross the bridge and follow the trail downstream(river left) for several hundred meters. When you arrive at a large scree washout hike down to the river. A long throw bag is an asset for lowering the boats as shouldering them can be a bit dicey. Once at the river there is a ledge covered in brown algae, seal launch ~2m into the river, or at low flows put in on the small river level ledge that is exposed.
Put In #2: This put in is less exposed and more popular. From the bridge at the canyon hike along river right for ~500m, carry on past the little creek that is plummeting to the water below until you are able to drop down to the river downstream of the traditional put in. It is fairly obvious as it is the only plausible place to reach the river without the aid of climbing equipment though it is still somewhat exposed. This put in cuts a couple of the rapids but eliminates the seal launch and scree slope.
A high commitment pool-drop run through a deep limestone canyon
Length & Time
The run only takes an hour or so plus scouting but it is a fair drive from anywhere so count on using most of a day to do this run.
Avg. 1.8%(18m/km), Max. 2.0%(30m/1.5km)
Snow melt and glacier fed. Flow is assessed at the put in. This river runs most of the year.
Low Flow: At put in #1 there is a small river level ledge to put in on rather than seal launch.
Medium Flow: The ledge is present but too small to set a boat on.
High Flow: The ledge is gone and you have to seal launch ~2m into the river.
You can see the canyon section at about the 5 minute mark.