Home Destinations Where to stand up paddleboard (SUP) near Calgary

Where to stand up paddleboard (SUP) near Calgary

by Karen Ung

The best places to stand up paddleboard near Calgary (and where to rent SUPs!)

Stand-up paddle boarding at Johnson Lake, Banff

From Two Jack Lake to Chestermere Lake, there are several ponds and lakes near Calgary that are perfect for stand up paddleboarding. No experience is required if you’re on flat water on a calm day. If you have great balance and an anchor, you can even do yoga on your board! And if you don’t have a SUP, check out our recommendations on where to rent gear.

Safety moment: Always wear a PFD and use a SUP leash. If you’re considering paddling on moving water (rivers), we recommend taking a paddling course first, and paddling with a friend.

Carburn Park, Calgary

Stand-up paddleboarding at Carburn Park

Carburn Park, Calgary (67 Riverview Dr SE) has two ponds, but only the second pond – bigger one, furthest from the parking lot – is suitable for stand up paddleboarding (the first, smaller pond has murky water and leeches). There are picnic tables, washrooms, and a walking trail around the ponds if you’d like to stay a while.

Rent SUPs from U of C Outdoor Centre, Aquabatics, Sports Rent, or The Paddle Station. For a fun night paddle at Carburn Pond, sign up for Full Moon Mindfulness Paddle with LED Lights with SUP & Flow, or LED Lightup Paddle Boarding with U of C’s Active Living.

Bowness Lagoon, Calgary

Stand-up paddleboarding at Bowness Lagoon

Bowness Lagoon is located at Bowness Park (8900 48 Ave NW). With two pretty ponds to paddle, this is a fun place to learn to SUP while watching ducks, geese, and the resident beaver! There’s a shallow channel that connects to the Bow River, but water levels are usually too low for SUPs (you could break your fin off).

After paddling, grab ice cream or coffee at Seasons of Bowness Park or have a picnic. Bowness Park has lovely walking trails along the river, playgrounds, a spray park, picnic sites and picnic shelters.

Mini Train Rides ($) and canoe/pedal boat rentals are also available at Bowness Park. For more information, visit U of C Outdoor Centre.

Private Lakes in Calgary & Springbank

If you can get on the guest list, there are several private lakes to paddle at:

  • In Calgary: Arbour Lake, Auburn Bay, Lake Bonavista, Lake Chapparal, Lake Coral, Heritage Pointe, Mckenzie Lake, Lake Midnapore, Lake Sundance)
  • Harmony Lake, Springbank and
  • Crystal Shores, Okotoks

Lake access is only for residents and their guests.

Chestermere Lake, Chestermere

Anniversary Park, Chestermere Lake

Chestermere Lake is a large (4.8 km long) lake 20 minutes east of Calgary with sandy beaches. Access the water at:

  • Anniversary Park & Beach (208 West Chestermere Drive): Play at the sandy beach or picnic in the picnic area before/after you paddle. Parking is $10 at the Rec Centre.
  • John Peake Memorial Park Boat Launch (121 Chestermere Station Way – behind Tim Horton’s): Have a picnic at the picnic area or in the gazebo, before you hit the water. There is a boat launch here too (fees apply, no fee for non motorized). We like paddling here, north of the overpass, with kids.
  • Sunset Park (421 East Chestermere Drive): Access the water via concrete steps. Barbecue or and play beach volleyball after paddling!

Note that this lake can get some big waves from wind and boat/Seadoo traffic, so mornings and evenings are the best time to paddle.

SUP rentals are available from Hyperactive Watersports at the Chestermere Marina.

Ghost Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area (15 minutes west of Cochrane)

The Ghost Reservoir is a popular paddling spot due to its proximity to Calgary. Park at the South Launch (it’s easier to access the water on this side) and paddle up the north arm towards the mouth of the Ghost River for calmer water. The water tends to be calmest in the morning before the wind kicks up and power boats get going.

SUP Rentals are available at the South Launch from Cochrane Water Sports and Ghostek North.

Barrier Lake, Kananaskis

Stand-up paddleboarding on Barrier Lake, Kananaskis

Barrier Lake is one of the closest lakes to Calgary with clear, blue water, a picnic area, and sandy beach. Rent SUPs lakeside from Kananaskis Outfitters on summer weekends. They also offer lessons! Stay close to shore as it gets very windy here.

If it’s too windy to paddle, hike Prairie View Trail or Barrier Lake Fire Lookout (Yates Mountain). The trailhead is at Barrier Dam Day Use.

Canmore Reservoir (aka Rundle Forebay), Canmore

Stand up paddle boarding at Canmore Reservoir

Canmore Reservoir aka Rundle Forebay‘s turquoise waters offer easy paddling and an intro to moving water. It’s flat water where you put in, but when you turn the corner and approach the dam at the west end, there can be quite a strong current. The reservoir is 1.8 km long. Park at Canmore Nordic Centre, and launch here (across from the entrance to Canmore Nordic Centre). Update: As of 2021, you can no longer park beside the reservoir.

In the Canmore area, rent SUPs from Bow Valley SUP or Wilderness Equipment Rentals.

Lower Kananaskis Lake

Lower Kananaskis Lake

Lower Kananaskis Lake is a gorgeous paddling spot with calmer water than nearby Upper Kananaskis Lake (mountains block westerly winds). Put in at at Canyon Boat Launch or Interlakes Boat Launch. You could easily spend hours here since the lake is so long.

Stand up paddleboard (SUP), canoe, and kayak rentals are available from Kananaskis Outfitters in Kananaskis Village. Canoe and kayak rentals are available from Boulton Creek Rentals (opens mid to late June).

Quarry Lake, Canmore

Quarry Lake, Canmore is a good place to try stand-up paddling or SUP yoga for the first time, and enjoy views of the Three Sisters. The small lake (500 metres across) is calm and scenic, and the day use area has a a small beach, picnic area, and walking trails. Parking fees are in effect as of June 1, 2021.

In the Canmore area, rent SUPs from Bow Valley SUP or Wilderness Equipment Rentals.

Spray Lakes Reservoir, Kananaskis

Paddling at Spray Lakes Reservoir near Driftwood Day Use

Spray Lakes Reservoir has crystal clear waters and easy access. Put in at Driftwood Day Use Boat Launch or the hand launch at Spray Lakes West Campground. If the water looks too rough for paddling (it is often quite windy), hike beautiful West Wind Pass, then paddle at Canmore Reservoir on your way home. You can also access Spray Lakes Reservoir from West Spray Lakes Campground’s hand launch.

Rent SUPs from Bow Valley SUP or Wilderness Equipment Rentals in Canmore.

Johnson Lake, Banff

Stand-up paddleboarding at Johnson Lake, Banff

Johnson Lake has shallow, warm water and fantastic views of Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain. There’s a picnic area, small sandy beach, and pleasant hike around the lake too, so you can make a day of it! Look for the swing and old hermit cabin on Johnson Lake Trail. Rent SUPs, canoes, and kayaks from Banff Canoe Club.

NOTE: A self-certification permit is required to paddle in Banff National Park. Violators could be fined up to $25,000.

Two Jack Lake, Banff

Two Jack Lake, Banff

Continuing down Lake Minnewanka Drive, you will arrive at Two Jack Lake, a gorgeous paddling and picnic destination. Explore the shoreline or paddle into the middle of the lake for panoramic mountain views if the water is flat. To extend your route, float south down the outflow canal – but be prepared to work hard on the return. There’s awesome camping at adjacent Two Jack Lakeside campground if you’re lucky enough to score a campsite. Rent SUPs, canoes, and kayaks from Banff Canoe Club.

NOTE: A self-certification permit is required to paddle in Banff National Park. Violators could be fined up to $25,000.

Lake Minnewanka, Banff

Paddling at Lake Minnewanka on a cloudy day

Lake Minnewanka is a gorgeous place to paddle on a calm day. Since Minnewanka is Banff’s longest and deepest lake, it can get some pretty big waves when the wind kicks up, so stay close to shore. Stick to the west side because there are more places to pull out if the weather turns; that way you won’t have to fight the wind on your way back (the wind is usually from the west). See our story Paddling at Lake Minnewanka for more information.

Rent SUPs from Banff Canoe Club. Canoe, kayak, and fishing boat rentals are available at Lake Minnewanka from Pursuit.

NOTE: A self-certification permit is required to paddle in Banff National Park. Violators could be fined up to $25,000.

Vermilion Lakes, Banff

Vermilion Lakes is the place to go for postcard perfect pictures of Mount Rundle. Park at the first lake as the water is deeper here. If it’s looking shallow, use a short fin (or remove your fin) so it doesn’t drag in the mud. We love birdwatching and looking for wildlife on the shore. Note that there is a sulphur smell in the water and the bottom is sticky mud, so this is not a swimming lake.

Rent SUPs, canoes, and kayaks from Banff Canoe Club.

NOTE: A self-certification permit is required to paddle in Banff National Park. Violators could be fined up to $25,000.

What to Bring

If you’re renting a stand-up paddleboard, the rental shop will provide a pump and paddle. If you purchase an inflatable SUP (inflatables are easier to transport), you will need:

  • A 3-piece paddle that fits in your SUP bag (costs a bit more but you won’t forget it).
  • A manual SUP pump or electric SUP pump that plugs into your vehicle. Use caution with electric pumps – exceeding the recommended PSI can damage your board.

Know Before You Go

Stand-up paddleboarding is tons of fun, but like any outdoor activity, has some risks. The mountain lakes are COLD, even in summer, and high winds can make paddling a SUP challenging. Always wear a PFD, know your limits, and paddle close to shore so you can pull up on shore if you need a break or the wind gets too crazy. If it’s windy enough that you can manage, but you’re worried about falling off your board, you can always paddle on your knees. The lower stance makes you more stable and less like a sail, so you’re less likely to be blown off the board.

Have fun and let us know which paddling spot you liked best!

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OJoe September 6, 2019 - 4:15 PM

Very well organized info. Thanks!

Karen Ung November 10, 2019 - 4:14 PM

Thank you so much! Where do you like to paddle?

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