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Your Guide To Alberta Water Sports: Stop Letting BC Have All The Fun

Posted on 28 June 2024 by Britanny Burr

Alberta has many claims to fame. We’ve got the stunning prairies, the rolling foothills, the iconic Rocky Mountains, and, of course, hundreds of spectacular lakes. Even though our province has no shortage of water, most people might think about B.C. before Alberta when it comes to boating and water sports. Well, not anymore!

Alberta has a boatload of lakes and rivers perfect for an adrenaline rush on the water. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to dip your toes into something new, Alberta’s waters are absolutely perfect for your next adventure. Let’s dive in and discover some of the best lakes on this side of the Rockies for water sports, along with some key information to get you prepped and ready to go.

As we said, Alberta has hundreds of gorgeous lakes for boating and water sports, and each lake offers something slightly different for every water sports enthusiast. Some are better than others for certain activities, such as kiteboarding and windsurfing, where the need for wind plays a big factor in the sport’s success. Some are warm and clear, while others are deep, glacier-fed, and chilly! The best news is that your options are virtually endless, and you don’t have to travel far to get on the water and have a blast.

Water Skiing in Alberta

Water Skiing is a super popular sport, and you might be surprised to find out that there’s quite a scene for water skiers in Alberta. It requires balance, strength, and agility and is an excellent form of exercise. Beginners often start on two skis before mastering slalom skiing. We can’t imagine why you’d want to take a ski out of the equation, but the pros love it, and it sure boosts the challenge level.

There are several lakes in Alberta renowned for excellent water skiing conditions. Sylvan Lake is one of Alberta’s most popular summer destinations. Its clear waters and vibrant beach town vibe make it a favourite spot for beginners and seasoned skiers.

Lesser Slave Lake in northern Alberta provides a more remote setting, perfect for those looking to combine water sports with a bit of nature exploration. Additionally, Wizard Lake, located southwest of Edmonton, is another hotspot for water skiing. It’s less crowded than Sylvan Lake, making it perfect for a peaceful yet invigorating experience.

It’s important to remember safety tips when water skiing. Always wear a life jacket, have a spotter on board the boat to keep an eye on the skier and communicate with the boat driver, know the rules of boating, and learn the standard hand signals of boating while pulling someone behind the boat.

If you’re new to the game, why not kick off with a lesson?

Wakeboarding & Wake Surfing

Wakeboarding and wake surfing are two awesome water sports that offer a fun way to spend time behind the boat while learning a new activity. They are hugely popular and can get pretty competitive, but they can also be a fun pastime if you love a challenge.

Wakeboarding involves riding a board over the water while being pulled behind a motorboat, combining elements of water skiing, snowboarding, and surfing. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy a warm summer day, practicing tricks and jumps. On the other hand, wake surfing involves riding the boat’s wake at a slower speed, offering a more relaxed and surf-like experience. Both are perfect activities to try this summer.

We narrowed down two favourite lakes that provide the perfect setting to try these two sports. Chestermere Lake is located just outside of Calgary, in the town of Chestermere, and is a hot spot for wakeboarding and surfing. The community vibe and smooth waters create an ideal environment for this high-energy sport. Epic Rentals provides private lessons and boat rentals.

Gleniffer Lake is another hidden gem located 30 minutes southwest of Red Deer and considered one of Alberta’s most beautiful recreational spots. The lake’s size allows plenty of space to get fancy on the water. When trying these adrenaline-packed sports, be sure to wear a helmet when wakeboarding, have properly fitted bindings, and always wear a life jacket for safety.

Windsurfing

Lake Newell and McGregor Lake are two of Alberta’s best locations for windsurfing. Lake Newell has consistent winds and a large surface area. It’s ideal for windsurfing and hosts an annual windsurfing week each Canada Day long weekend. Tucked away near Brooks, Lake Newell is one of southern Alberta’s largest and warmest lakes. It’s considered one of Alberta’s best-kept secrets!

McGregor Lake is also located in southern Alberta and is a clean, warm-water-fed lake ideal for water sports. It has perfect wind for windsurfing, and McGregor Lake is never crowded. Its expansive surface area provides plenty of room to catch the wind and ride the waves.

Always check the weather forecast before heading out on the water. Avoid all water sports in storms or when lightning is forecast. Stay close to shore, especially when learning to avoid getting pushed out too far from land. Always use the buddy system when heading out on the water and inform someone on shore of your plans.

Kiteboarding

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A kite surfer on McGregor Lake in Alberta with rolling hills in the background / Travel Alberta

Kiteboarding, also known as kitesurfing, combines aspects of surfing, windsurfing, and wakeboarding. It involves riding on a small board while being pulled by a large, controllable kite, allowing the rider to harness the power of the wind to glide across the water.

This dynamic sport offers a blend of adrenaline, skill, and athleticism as riders perform impressive tricks, making each session a complete adventure. The equipment used in kiteboarding includes a kite, control bar, harness, and a board, each playing an important role in ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience. Kite surfers often gather at popular spots to share tips, encourage one another, and foster a deep sense of community.

Two popular kiteboarding destinations in Alberta include Spray Lake Reservoir, located in the heart of the Rockies in Kananaskis Country. Spray Lake Reservoir offers stunning scenery and reliable winds for kitesurfing. It’s a bit chilly, so be prepared for cold water!

Our second pick is Ghost Lake, an ideal location for beginners and more advanced kiters alike, and offers an exciting experience for anyone trying out this sport. Ghost Lake is located west of Calgary and is well known for its consistent winds and stunning surroundings. Ghost Lake is chilly, so a wetsuit is highly recommended. Check out Kite Alberta or Element for a complete list of locations, lessons, and rentals.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

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A group of paddle boarders in a circle as the sun sets in Alberta / Cochrane Tourism

Increasingly popular over recent years, stand-up paddle (SUP) boarding in Alberta offers an incredible way to explore the province’s stunning lakes and rivers. It provides both adventure and tranquility. The beauty of SUP is that you can virtually head out on any body of water around.

The University of Calgary Outdoor Centre offers lessons and rentals, so hit up their website to book a lesson to learn proper technique and water safety, especially on a river where currents can be intense. Pick your favourite destination and get out there!

Whether water skiing on Sylvan Lake, windsurfing at McGregor Lake, wakeboarding and wake surfing at Chestermere Lake, or kiteboarding on Ghost Lake, Alberta’s lakes offer something for everyone. This summer, try something new. Take a lesson, prioritize safety, and most importantly, don’t let B.C. have all the fun!

Britanny Burris a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the Great West Media & Southern Alberta Newspapers Hot Summer Guide advertising feature. The Hot Summer Guide is a special feature about summer activities, bucket list adventures, staycation options, road trips, attractions, events, and road trip-worthy food & beverage destinations across Alberta. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.

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