Standup paddleboarding has seen massive growth in recent years, becoming one of the most popular summertime sports in Central Alberta. It makes sense: The lakes of Edmonton—from the micro man-made lakes in the suburbs to their larger counterparts surrounding the city limits—lend themselves well to the sport. They tend to be sheltered and shallow, making Edmonton an ideal place to paddleboard, particularly for beginners and families.
Of course, if you’re looking for a greater challenge—or a longer adventure—the faster-flowing currents of the North Saskatchewan River will carry you there.
Here are some of our favorite spots to standup paddleboard in the Edmonton region.
[This article is part of our 7 Adventurous Things To Do In Edmonton series. Learn more about where to hike, bike, paddle and sightsee around Alberta’s capital city region.]
Where to paddleboard in Edmonton
Elk Island National Park
Located only a 35-minute drive from Edmonton’s city center, Elk Island National Park is best known for its large herd of bison that roam freely throughout the fenced park. However, it’s also one of the best places to paddleboard in Edmonton.
Elk Island’s main waterway, Astotin Lake, offers sheltered bays for birdwatching (the park has around 250 species) and even a chain of islands that block the wind. Motorized boats aren’t permitted, so you don’t have to deal with wake, and Haskin Canoe offers easy on-site SUP rentals for $20/hour.
North Saskatchewan River
Even a few years ago, you would have been unlikely to spot any standup paddleboarders on the North Saskatchewan River. That’s changed recently, with a few outfitters in the region offering rentals and lessons. (And if you were wondering, yes, it can even be done in the winter if you’re willing to dodge the ice and put up with the extreme temperatures.)
From July until September, River Valley Adventure Co. offers inflatable SUP boards for half-day ($35) or full-day rentals ($65). There are a number of boat launches and put-in spots along the river directly in the city, stretching from Devon in the southwest and reaching Fort Saskatchewan in the northeast (AQ Outdoors provides a great run-down in this post).
One of the most popular itineraries is to put in at the bridge in Devon, then paddle downstream toward the city. But before you head out, be sure to check the river conditions—unless you’re a skilled paddler, it’s best to avoid the river when it’s flowing at more than 250 cubic meters per second.
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Lac Ste. Anne
Lac Ste. Anne is only an hour drive northwest of the capital city, which is just part of the reason it’s one of the favorite summertime getaways for Edmontonians. (Locals may also refer to it as “Alberta Beach,” which is the name of the main cabin community on its southeast shores.)
Lac Ste. Anne is small enough that its waters are typically calm, but big enough that it has islands to explore, including one that’s frequented by pelicans. The only downside is that the water closer to shore can be weedy and difficult to paddle through, so you’ll want to launch your SUP from a boat launch or dock.
Lac Ste. Anne’s southern neighbor, Wabamun, is the slightly larger lake of the two and is well regarded for its pike fishing. Like Lac St. Anne, Wabamun’s shores can be weedy, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best spots to paddleboard near Edmonton.
Miquelon Lake Provincial Park
Located midway between Edmonton and Camrose, Miquelon Lake isn’t the biggest lake in Alberta nor the most popular, and it’s recommended that you don’t swim in its water. However, this arguably makes it one of the best places to SUP, especially for beginners. Unlike Wabamun or Lac Ste. Anne, no motorized boats are allowed on the lake, so you won’t have to contend with wake. You’re also likely to see birds, as around 200 species visit the park annually.
Big Lake & The Sturgeon River
One of the closest lakes to the City of Edmonton, Big Lake can be found within St. Albert’s Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park. Birders love this spot for the wetlands (it’s an important habitat for hundreds of species of birds, such as migratory tundra and trumpeter swans) including Big Lake. It’s technically part of the Sturgeon River, so expect shallow, silty water and be prepared to get muddy at your put-in spot.
To skip the lake (and potentially the mud), one of the best access points for the Sturgeon is within the Riel Recreation Area, which has a boat launch directly onto the river.
Pigeon Lake is a solid hour and a half drive southwest of Edmonton, but it’s an easy day trip and well worth the trek. If you want to stay overnight to get more time on the water, the lake’s western shores are where you’ll find Pigeon Lake Provincial Park and campground. If you’re looking for some more luxurious accommodation post SUP-session, the Village at Pigeon Lake Resort rounds out the experience with shopping, accommodations and a spa.
On the edges of the town of Leduc (near Edmonton International Airport), Telford Lake is a long stretch of water that’s used for boat races and has a boat club where you can rent standup paddleboards (see below for additional information). An 8.2-kilometer-long paved path wraps around the lake, perfect for cycling or hiking after your paddle.
Sylvan Lake & Gull Lake
Back in the ‘90s, Sylvan Lake was “the” spot kids begged their parents to take them, thanks to its massive water park and beachside Cow’s Ice Cream parlor. Wild Rapids Waterpark is no more, but this lakeside town offers more than nostalgia; it’s still one of the hottest spots for summertime recreation, including standup paddleboarding. Sylvan Lake is located 20-minutes west of Red Deer and about two hours south of Edmonton.
A little bit further north (and closer to Edmonton), Gull Lake is a similar size with a resort, boat launch and RV park located at Sandy Point.
Paddleboard yoga Edmonton
Keen to do downward dog on the water? There are no tour operators or classes in Edmonton that presently offer paddleboard yoga, but that doesn’t stop you from conducting your own session out on the water.
Paddleboard rentals Edmonton
Regardless of whether you’re looking for inflatable or rigid paddleboard rentals in Edmonton one of the following outfitters can kit you out.
Alberta-based outfitter Aquabatics will bring paddleboard rentals to you at Lake Summerside (a small man-made lake on the south side of Edmonton) on Wednesday evenings for $35 or will set you up for a full day of paddling on the North Saskatchewan River for $129.
River Valley Adventure Co.
River Valley Adventure Co. rents out Red Paddle Co. inflatable boards for use on the North Saskatchewan River. Inquire for pricing, pick-up points and availability.
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Gritty Knots Paddle Co
Free pick-up and drop-off is offered with each SUP rental from Gritty Knots in Edmonton. Recreational and touring boards are available, with rentals starting at $45 per day and discounted rates for subsequent days.
Located on the shores of Astotin Lake in Elk Island National Park, Haskin Canoe rents SUPs for $20 per hour and giant SUPs—which can fit up to eight adults at a time—for $60 per hour.
Get Fit Rentals
Edmonton’s family-owned Get Fit Rentals has both rigid and inflatable paddleboard rentals at affordable prices. Rentals cost $35 daily, with discounted weekend, long weekend and weekly rates.
Leduc Boat Club
The Leduc Boat Club offers one-hour SUP rentals on Telford Lake, although you must become a member of the club and register online first in order to book and borrow them. Memberships start at $175 per summer season.
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Specializing in boat and jet ski rentals, Sunsport in Sylvan Lake also offers standup paddleboard rentals for $30 per hour.
Standup paddleboard Edmonton lessons
Aquabatics runs some of the most comprehensive standup paddleboard lessons in Edmonton. In addition to beginner and flatwater courses, they also work with more advanced paddlers on refining skills for stronger currents.
Edmonton Boat Clubs
Although there are few outfitters offering one-off SUP lessons in the Edmonton region, there are a number of boat clubs with programming catering to those who are in the area longer-term. For most, you’ll be required to pay an annual membership fee to participate, but if you go regularly it’s an affordable way to learn a new sport or upgrade your skills.
The following clubs all offer SUP lessons in the Edmonton area:
- The Greater Edmonton Racing Canoe & Kayak Club
- Ceyana Canoe Club
- St. Albert Canoe & Kayak
- Leduc Boat Club
Standup paddleboarding with Haskin Canoe Rental in Elk Island National Park. | Photo courtesy of: Travel Alberta // Roth & Ramberg