By MICHAELA RITCHIE
Calgary may feel like one of the most heavily landlocked cities in the country (understandable — we’re in a prairie province, after all), but our surrounding abundance of wide-open grassland and limitless farm fields shouldn’t discount locals and tourists alike from enjoying a little splash and surf when the sun comes out. The city is simply swimming with opportunities to get out on the water, so no matter what floats your boat, if you’re looking to experience the aquatic side of Calgary we’ve found the perfect places for you to explore.
Glenmore Reservoir (Inner City SW)
Tucked within the city limits along the shores of the Eagle Ridge community and Heritage Park, the Glenmore Reservoir and Dam provide Calgarians not only with clean drinking water, but also with a contingency against spring melt and flooding. With a maximum length of 4.1 km, and a maximum depth of 21.1 m, the reservoir is also home to the Glenmore Sailing School, the largest school of its kind across the country. Along with sailing lessons, the Glenmore Sailing School also offers boat rentals and stall rentals to non-members from May 1 through Oct. 31. Renters with previous sailing experience can hop aboard the non-skippered sailboats of single or double occupancy for a fee of $30 (with a daily maximum of $90). The 22-foot Catalina “Jane Mary,” a skippered vessel, is available with occupancy for up to six adults for $150 per hour. Three-person canoes and single sailor kayaks are also available to rent for $15/hr or $45/day. All personal flotation devices are included in the cost of your rental. Boat stall rentals are available from $178 per season for those who own their own craft. The Glenmore Sailing Club also operates in these waters, working alongside the school to provide extended opportunities for competition and recreation to sailors who are craving a little more time on deck.
Glenmore Sailing School, 8415 24 St SW, 403-221-3689, www.calgary.ca/CSPS/recreation/pages/sailing-school/glenmore-sailing-school
Glenmore Sailing Club, 8601 24 St SW, 403-238-2044, www.glenmoresailingclub.com
Ghost Lake (50 min. outside Calgary NW)
Located less than an hour from the city center, just off the 1A highway, Ghost Lake offers both amateur and experienced boaters plenty of opportunities to get out on the water. Offering an abundance of space, the lake spans 13.5 km end-to-end, boasting a maximum depth of 34 m. The Ghost Lake Marina is home to two public boat launches, free to use, and offers 50 mooring balls and 50 sheltered slips available for renters to dock personal craft. Those looking to rent watercraft will unfortunately be out of luck here, but the Marina does facilitate the sale of power boats, fishing boats and sailing vessels at reasonable price cuts to interested buyers through their website. A campground and accompanying RV storage can also be found along the lake’s shoreline.
Ghost Lake Marina, located 18km west on Hwy 1A, 403-851-0766, www.ghostlakerecreations.com
Chestermere Lake (20 min. outside Calgary NE)
A century ago it was simply an irrigation pond, but this man-made reservoir has since blossomed to support an entire community. The lake is fed by the Bow River and lets out at the north end to irrigate nearby farmland. Stretching 5 km long and 23 ft. max. depth, the lake provides ample space for residents of the small city of Chestermere to partake in swimming, fishing, and even skating in the winter time. Visitors can get the full Chestermere Lake experience by dropping in to the Chestermere Landing and Hyperactive Watersports facility. Paddleboards, one and two person pedal boats, and one and two person kayaks are all available to rent from $20 to $45. All personal flotation devices are included in the purchase of your rental. The facility does not rent powerboats or seadoos, but if you possess a boating license and own a craft of you own, day rates for launching at the John Peak Park Boat Launch range from $10 for open bow boats, $35 for seadoos and other personal motorized craft, and $45 for motorboats. The Calgary Yacht Club also makes paddleboards, kayaks, and small sailing vessels available to its membership holders for an additional fee.
The Chestermere Landing, 109 East Chestermere Drive, 403–277-9118, www.hyperactivewatersports.com
John Peak Park, 121 Chestermere Station Way, 403-235-6601, www.chestermere.ca/109/boat-launch
The Calgary Yacht Club, 635 E Chestermere Dr, 403-272-3300, www.calgaryyachtclub.wildapricot.org
Eagle Lake (1 hr. outside Calgary SE)
If boating for the sake of speed isn’t really your shtick, Eagle Lake offers the perfect conditions for a more relaxed experience. Not quite 5 m deep, this body near Strathmore is known for its excellent pike and walleye fishing. Experienced fly fishers can easily catch their limit here. In the winter months, this spot doubles as a much-loved ice-fishing destination for locals. The Eagle Lake RV Resort offers rental of pedal boats, canoes, and kayaks as part of its amenities, and launch of personal craft is available at variable rates at this east shore campsite.
Eagle Lake RV Resort, Range Rd 243, 403-934-4283, www.eaglelakervresort.co
Bow River (Inner City)
Of course, we can’t talk about boating in Calgary without mentioning the Bow River, Calgary’s central waterway. Attracting hundreds of rafters to its waters each summer, this river is truly a paddler’s paradise. Rent out a single or double kayak, along with rafts, from one of The Paddle Stations three outposts along the banks of the Bow and navigate the brisk currents to experience an amazing aquatic adventure. All personal safety equipment is included in your rental fee. Comparably, Lazy Day Raft Rentals specializes in just that, offering raft sizes that can accommodate between 4 and 10 people. Shuttle service to river entrance points is also available.
The Paddle Station, various locations at Shouldice Park, Prince’s Island, and St. Patrick’s Island, (403) 460-7238, www.paddlestation.ca
Lazy Day Raft Rentals, 720 3 St NW, 403-258-0575, lazydayraftrentals.com