THINGS TO DO:
Boating & Swimming
Alberta is sprinkled with thousands of lakes, rivers and streams. Watch exhilarating events or jump in and get wet this summer. Take a crack at my list of favourites from around the province.
Jet Boat Races
My hands cover my ears, trying to dampen the roar of jet boats revving to race from Riverboat Park. Here at Whitecourt’s annual August jet boat races (and World races every four years), the excitement on the packed shoreline is palpable. Suddenly, they’re away! Our necks crane to get the best view of the professional international racers. It’s fast, wet and wild!
I had a blast in Lethbridge at the province’s biggest dragon boat festival. To the pounding encouragement of the drum, 70 crews paddle hard as they compete in this 2,000-year-old Chinese sport, while you jump, clap and egg them on. Join in the party atmosphere of weekend dragon boat festivals in Edmonton, Leduc, Calgary, and Lake Newell.
Toasty warm in wetsuit and booties, I bob in Ghost Lake, near Calgary, clinging to my stand-up paddleboard. “It’s an easy sport to learn,” assures our instructor from Undercurrents. I shinny my body, belly down, onto the board, which is like a big, stable surfboard. I kneel and then, grasping a single long paddle, slowly stand. After a few wobbles, I spread my feet and find my balance. Digging in with the paddle, away I go!
Undercurrentsruns stand-up paddleboarding lessons Sundays at Ghost Lake. Come out the other end with your Paddle Canada certification.
Surf’s up! “It’s the most unique thing you can do in Alberta,” enthuses instructor Jeff Brooks of Rocky Mountain River Surfing.I’m standing in the Kananaskis River just upstream from the Green Tongue, a small, safe beginner wave. “Ready?” he asks. Nodding, I jump in on my stomach and get to my knees. Many determined attempts later, jubilantly I stand – for a few glorious seconds!
I descend into the glacial waters of Banff National Park’s Lake Minnewanka. Because this is a high altitude, cold water dive, I’m accompanied by a certified dive instructor. The highlight we soon see stretching below us is the best preserved submerged historic village in Canada. Minnewanka Landing, established in 1888, was intentionally flooded by a dam in 1941. Today it is ours to explore.
What aquatic adventure in Alberta would be complete without a trip to Wild Rapids, Sylvan Lake’s famous water park? With slides that have names like Tube Blaster, Sneaky Snake, Side Winder, Hell’s Gate and Cinnamon Twist, what waterbaby can resist?