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What you Need to Know Before you Float the Bow

Float the Bow


“Floating the Bow” in Calgary, Alberta, Canada is practically a rite of passage for Calgarians. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends (or get *away* from family and friends!) and is a unique way to see our beautiful city from a completely different perspective.  To make sure that you have the best possible experience, the friendly and knowledgeable Lazy Day Crew have put this information together to help make sure you are prepared and safe for (almost!) everything the Bow and Mother Nature can throw at you.

What to bring

If you are from Calgary, you know that the weather can change several times a day, so it’s always best to be prepared.  It helps to check with the pros at Environment Canada and see what their best guess is for the day! Some things to consider packing are:

  1. Sunscreen and hat
  2. There’s a chance you might get wet from a dripping paddle, a rogue wave, or Cousin Eddy’s bellyflop off the side…so consider towels and a change of clothes
  3. In the event you want to disembark from your floating vessel and go exploring, you will want to wear sturdy water shoes
  4. Dry bag for valuables and phones

Safety on the water

River conditions are generally favourable for floating; however, there are times during spring runoff when flow rates are greater than 280 m3/s and are not safe for boating. Flow rates can be monitored via the Rivers Alberta website as well as on the City of Calgary’s website and Facebook pages.

It is important to ensure that you have proper equipment for your day on the water. Our rafts are made of durable commercial grade materials and should be able to handle almost all conditions and debris on the Bow. All our rafts rentals include life jackets (PFD), paddles, and safety kit. If you choose to use your own gear that’s great – just ensure that it is compliant with the required regulations (and call us if you forget your PFD as we have them available for rent). Transport Canada also has great information on boater safety.

Here’s a great video from the Calgary Fire Department with some river safety pointers:

Where to go (and how to get there)

There are several Bow River access points within the city. Lazy Day clients start at the Baker Park Boat Launch and exit at the Calgary Curling club. All you need to do is book online at Lazy Day Raft Rentals and we’ll get everything ready for you.  We even provide free parking and let you bring your pets.  If you want to go it alone and do your own thing, the City provides a river access map to help guide you to the best spots.

Rules of the river

The Bow is continually patrolled by Calgary’s finest law enforcement and firefighters to keep everyone safe. To keep you on the right side of the law and avoid fines (or worse) make sure that you are always wearing your life jacket (failure to abide by this mandatory rule is a ticketed offence, with a mandatory court appearance and up to $500 in fines).  The transportation and consumption of alcohol or drugs is illegal on Canadian waterways.

Have a great time!

This information is meant to be a guide for enjoying your day on the water and has been gathered through personal experience and published information, but may be subject to change by regulatory bodies. This information is in no way meant to be an inclusive list and it is always recommended that you do your own research prior to floating.



DIY rafts are deflated, neatly packed, and ready for you to take to whichever destination beckons. Includes safety kit and pump; PFDs and paddles can be rended for a nominal fee. Takes about 15 minutes to inflate with hand pumps. Fits into regular-sized car trucks.