People don’t associate Alberta with large lakes, and it may be for that reason that not enough people seem to know just how awesome our lakes can be. Central Alberta is jam-packed with a collection of both smaller and larger lakes, and there’s definitely no shortage of water sports! With over 429 km of water routes, river opportunities are just as abundant on the North Saskatchewan River and Upper Red Deer River. From white water rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing, to jet boating and tubing – there’s so many ways to plan an epic water-related adventure in Central Alberta.

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake’s beautifully clear waters lap against Central Alberta’s most iconic beach, but that’s not the only thing that makes the lake unique.

If you’re looking to get out on the water with a motor, there are two places you can go: Sunsport Boat Rentals and Cool Toyz. You can rent seadoos, traditional boats, boat accessories, and wakeboards from Sunsport, or power boards, water bikes, and electric skateboards from Cool Toyz.

You don’t need to be sporty to enjoy the water! Even in the heart of Alberta, enjoy a cruise aboard The Water Buffalo. Sylvan Lake’s own Buks Booze Cruise offers private rentals, midday suntan cheers, sunset cruises, bachelor & bachelorette party packages, and firework glow cruises.

Literally floating on the lake is the Sylvan Lake Aqua Splash, the first open outdoor waterpark in Alberta! The park is staffed by lifeguards and located right near the town’s signature lighthouse. It’s big, it’s bright, it’s colourful, and has everything from a trapeze swing, slides, and monkey bars to a wiggle bridge, launch bag, and climbing tower. It’s no wonder that Sylvan Lake is one of the most popular beach and boating spots in the province!

Central Alberta Lakes

For access to our rivers and lakes, there are 15 staging areas, 36 river put-ins/take-outs, and 26 boat launches. Warm water lakes located in northeastern Central Alberta are some of the most popular in the province, and provide boating, fishing, ice fishing, swimming, and cottage opportunities!

Gull Lake

Gull Lake is noted for its sandy beaches and great fishing. Fishing on your radar? Contact Adventure Ice Fishing or Gull Lake Fishing Charters, as they offer a year round, full service experience for great rates. If you’d rather kayak or paddle board, stop out at Sandy Point and rent either one for an hour or two and enjoy the shallow waters off their beach.

Ready to Experience Summer Like a Local?

Trip Planning Tool

Ready Made and Mapped – Using our online trip planning tool, we put together a trip featuring some of the awesome spots mentioned in this article. Our trip planning tool allows you to customize your Central Alberta adventures anytime and anywhere. It’s super easy: create your trip, add your must-sees and dos, and share with the friends and family you want to bring along. Get ready for some summer fun!

Red Deer

One of the coolest areas in Red Deer is Discovery Canyon. There are streams, playgrounds, ponds, walking paths, beaches, small waterfalls, and the whole thing is surrounded by trees! There’s even creek tubing with rentals, and it’s open 7 days a week from early June until the September long weekend.

Bower Ponds is a public park featuring… water balls! You’re inside a ball! Like a hamster. A water hamster. It’s unbelievably fun and hilarious, and it can also be a great workout. They also offer paddle boat, canoe, and kayak rentals.

If you’re looking to rent your watersports, Red Deer offers two great options – Snowcoast Board Sports and Valhalla Pure Outfitters. Snowcoast’s speciality is paddle boards, which are perfect for one of the many local lakes. Valhalla offers a huge selection of goods, featuring all forms of outdoor equipment, from watersports to hiking and skiing. Both shops offer rentals.

Clearwater County

To sum up Lake Abraham in one sentence: it’s jaw-dropping gorgeous. In winter, the lake freezes over, and as the plant life that was trapped when the reservoir was created decomposes, methane bubbles rise to the surface. The result is a stunning field of shining bubbles, and it’s the perfect spot for photographers. If you don’t want to go out on the ice alone, there are also 1-2 km ice walk tours from December to March, open to all levels and ages. In the summer, it retains that turquoise colour that makes any picture look like it was taken by a professional using photoshop. To get there, follow Highway 11 alongside the North Saskatchewan River to its source.

There’s also Sylvan Lake and Gleniffer Lake nearby, and for those of you who have experience in whiter waters, the Brierlies Rapids in the North Saskatchewan River is right next to Rocky Mountain House. It’s comprised of a series of small waves that culminates in a sandstone ledge, and is notorious for clipping canoes. Crimson Lake is right outside of Rocky Mountain House, with year-round camping and a boat launch. There’s also plenty of fishing opportunities near town!

Rocky Mountain House

Brierley’s Whitewater Classic, Rocky Mountain House’s own local annual paddle festival, is packed with events, races, food, and freestyle competitions.

HeLa Ventures is located only 24 km west of town. There are several education summer camps, including the Mountain Adventure School, where high school students in Alberta can experience white water rafting, rock climbing, hiking, wilderness living, canoeing, rappelling, and best of all, earn up to eleven high school credits while they’re doing it! HeLa Ventures also offers paddle certifications, rentals, and they’re an ideal venue for corporate retreats and will help customise the program to your needs. Finally, they have the Alberta Leadership Practicum, a four month program that is almost entirely hands-on. Through the program, you can achieve 8 different certifications for rescue and response, guiding, and instruction, and learn a ton of awesome outdoors skills, including rock climbing, mountain biking, and rappelling. If you’re interested in applying for next year, you can apply as of February 15th. Don’t delay, as there are a limited number of spots every year.

Blackfalds Outdoor Aquatic Centre

Blackfalds and Lacombe

Still have those rentals? Blackfalds and Lacombe are located right in the heart of a ton of small lakes, perfect for paddle boarding, canoeing, or kayaking! Or head to Lacombe County’s Aspen Beach Lakeview Campground on the shores of Gull Lake! If you’re looking for something closer to the heart of downtown, check out Barnett Lake in Lacombe or the McKay Ranch Aquatic Centre at the Abbey Centre in Blackfalds, home to the only outdoor waterslides in Central Alberta.

Olds and Innisfail

There are three great lakes that are just perfect for a nice relaxing fishing trip. Get up as early as you can, grab your gear, and take your pick of Hiller Reservoir or Gleniffer Lake. Gleniffer Lake is popular, so either get there early in the season or bring a boat. Hiller Reservoir is well stocked with rainbow trout. Both are excellent for beginners, or anyone looking to relax for a weekend outing. There’s also Pine Lake, perfect for fishing or family adventure, and located just southeast of Red Deer within Red Deer County.

Feature Image: Travel Alberta / AV Wakefield

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