With over 600 lakes and countless rivers and streams in Alberta, there are many opportunities to travel water trails and to explore the province by boat! From canoes to jetboats, boating is a popular recreational activity and mode of transportation in Alberta.
Plan your trip
Step 1. Where to go
Check Alberta River Basins for most recent river, lake or reservoir conditions. Near-real-time data is available on rivers.alberta.ca or on the Alberta Rivers app (free to download from the App store or Google Play).
Find opportunities for boating in Alberta Parks sites visit: Activities.
Step 2. Plan ahead and be prepared
- Know the skill and abilities of your group.
- Check the weather forecast for your trip.
- Respect the shorelands and avoid launching and landing in soft or marshy areas.
Step 3. Know the rules and laws
- Ensure you have the appropriate safety and training requirements, such as a Pleasure Craft Operator Card for any power-driven boat.
- Boats used on any water body must conform with the Canada Shipping Act and regulations.
- Know and follow Transport Canada boating regulations and safety.
- Keep boat speeds under 10km/hour within 30 metres of the shoreline, and follow speed limits.
- Know and follow the directions provided by navigational and other special buoys.
- Obey all signs at boat launches and waterbodies. In Public Land Use Zones, motorized boats are only permitted in areas designated by posted signs.
- Some waterbodies may restrict the use of gas powered boats.
- Entering onto the bed and shore of a waterbody from vacant public land is permitted.
- All boats must:
- Have a lifejacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD) on board the watercraft for each person.
- Have bailing equipment.
- Have a sounding device.
- Have lights for night navigation.
- In Alberta, laws have been put in place to ensure that watercraft use does not result in the transfer of aquatic invasive species:
- Watercraft must be drained – All watercraft must have their drain plugs pulled while being transported on Alberta highways. Failure to pull the plug may result in a $180 fine.
- Watercraft must be inspected – By law, watercraft users in Alberta must report in to watercraft inspection stations when highway signage indicates such stations are open. Bypassing an open inspection station while transporting a watercraft is a violation of the Fisheries (Alberta) Act and can result in a $324 fine.
- Be sure that you are familiar with these laws and what your responsibilities and legal obligations are. See Clean, drain, dry your gear further details.
- Review information about docks, boat lifts and other structures.
- Pack out what you pack in! Take all garbage and waste with you to dispose of at home or at a waste transfer station.
- Leave all plants, fossils, rocks and artifacts where you found them.
Step 4. Boat responsibly
As with other recreational activities, boating does impact the environment and other users. Impacts can include:
- transfer of aquatic invasive species and disease
- habitat destruction
- wildlife disruption
- loss of vegetation in the water and on the shore
- soil compaction, contamination and erosion
- water contamination
Manage your impact:
- Learn how you can Respect our Lakes.
- Watch your wake. Keep motorized water sports far from shore to prevent erosion and protect nests from being swamped.
- Keep music and boat noise to a minimum.
- Respect wildlife.
- Carry the proper tools to clean up an oil or gas spill if one occurs.
- Concentrate use in established areas and use established launch sites.
- Clean, drain, dry your boat and gear on the shoreline before moving to another waterbody to minimize the transfer of aquatic invasive species and diseases.
To get involved in the canoeing or whitewater paddling community, connect with Paddle Alberta or the Alberta Whitewater Association.
For information or to report any public safety incidents, illegal activity or enforcement concerns during your trip, call 310-LAND (5263).
Hours: Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Toll free: 310-LAND
Toll free (outside of Alberta): 1-833-310-5869
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