May 17, 2020 All Bow River Boat Ramps are Open
Covid- 19 Update – The following statement was obtained from the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) as it relates to river recreational use:
Alberta: mass gatherings must be 15 people or less, except for those social services and essential services with special exemptions. More info here: https://www.alberta.ca/restrictions-on-gatherings-and-businesses.aspx and https://www.alberta.ca/essential-services.aspx
- All National parks are closed: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/securite-safety/covid-19-info
A local order is in place closing all playgrounds and sports fields as well as a prohibition on organized sports
At this time, rivers do not fall into any of those categories, but you must adhere to all of the other national, provincial, and local orders in place in terms of physical distancing. This could change at any time.
Bow River Access Strategies
The Calgary River Access Strategy committed to two new boat ramps at Inglewood and Ogden Bridge, improvements at West Baker Park and Glenmore/Graves Bridge, and improved access at Sunnyside. Once these Priority Access Points are completed, river users would be able to float the entire Calgary reach of the Bow and Elbow Rivers. The Government of Alberta approved the Bow River Access Plan in 2019 that will see upgrades to five existing boat ramps between Calgary and Carseland.
The following lists all boat ramps in and downstream of Calgary that are included in these strategies. A complete list of all Calgary’s hand and trailered-boat launch sits is available on the River Map Page
West Baker Park –
Located in the north-west quadrant of Calgary and accessed off 85 Street and Scenic Bow Road NW
Public access improvements were made under Calgary’s River Access Strategy. The boat ramp has been enlarged to accommodate both hand and trailer-boat access. An expanded staging area and short-term parking stalls were configured to accommodate convenient access to the river. A large parking lot has also been added to the river access site.
Access Shouldice Park off Home Road NW onto 13 Ave NW and proceed to the public river access site under the overpass.
Angled car parking is available. Truck-trailer parking is available along 13 Ave NW. Portable toilets and garbage bins are available. This river access site can get busy in the summer months with float tube rental operations out of this location.
St. Patrick’s Island
Access St. Patrick’s Island parking from Zoo Road- 12 Street SE, opposit the Calgary Zoo South Entrance.
St. Patrick’s Island Boat Ramp is perfectly positioned to offer river users a takeout point above Harvie Passage. Although canoeists and rafters have always been able to use St. Patrick’s Island and other hand launch sites upstream, and with the assistance of Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, a boat ramp has not been available for larger trailered recreation river craft.
Now it will be possible for the drift boat fishing community and large paddle craft to float the inner city reach of the Bow River. Vehicles will be able to use the boat ramp to drive their trailers down to the Cove Lagoon.
Calgary Parking Authority kiosks payment options are available in the Zoo Parking Lot 8302. For trailered-boat users there will be the challenge as to where to park vehicles while floating to or from St. Patrick’s Island. It is recommended that vehicles be parked at upstream launch sites and shuttled close to or after arrival at St. Patrick’s Island. And if the boat is launched at St. Patrick’s Island the vehicle could be shuttled almost immediately downstream to a take-out site.
Harvie Passage is currently accessed from the Bow Habitat Station parking lot and by foot across Pearce Estates Park.
The Harvie Passage whitewater park was opened to the public in 2018. A boat ramp installed in the tail-out of the HP Low Water Channel is currently not open to the public. Discussion are taking place to obtain vehicle access to Harvie Passage, but no immediate agreement is expected.
The HP Low Water Channel flows are subject to the operation of the Western Irrigation District water diversion sluicegates. When they are closed, from mid-April to October each year, water levels rise upstream of the weir and water flows through the Low Water Channel that allows for recreational use of the park and safe passage through it.
A new Calgary River Access Strategy river access development planned for 2020. Located on the east side of the river at the Old Refinery Park site, vehicle access will be available from Ogden Road SE. Toilets, garbage containment and adequate parking will be available for all river users.
Until the construction is complete, casual boat access is available on the west side of the river that can be accessed off Ogden Road SE adjacent to Ogden Bridge.
Glenmore – Graves Bridge
Glenmore /Graves Bridge boat ramp is a very popular river access location for both the paddle and fishing community that is accessed off Heritage Drive SE. A flood barrier is currently being installed along Heritage Drive that has changed the configuration of the parking lot and access to the river. Once construction is complete the site will be returned to the same footprint it once had, although parking under the bridge may be limited.
Fish Creek Park
Fish Creek Park is accessed from Bow Bottom Trail SE. The park is a part of the Alberta Parks system and therefore comes under their policy guideline. Toilets, garbage containment and a large parking lot is available.
The park is open from 8 AM to 10 PM in the summer months with the boat launch open from April to October, as long as safe access can be provided.
No over nightcamping or parking.
Policeman’s Flats is located approximately 20 min south of Calgary on Highway #2, east on Dunbow Road about 2 Km and turn left on Bow River Bottom Trail and drive down toward the river.
The property is owned by Sherbrook Investment who have kindly granted public access to the propery that is maintained under a Bow River Trout Foundation Development Project
McKinnon Flats is a public lands recreation area east of Calgary and south of Dalemead on the banks of the Bow River. The property was purchased from LK Resources in 1982 and developed into one of the Bow River’s most important river access sites. McKinnon’s Flats is not just a river access site for the fishing community. As the popularity of outdoor pursuits has gained traction in urban centers, the paddling community, float tubers, mountain bike, bird watching, dog walking, bow-hunting and general river recreation use has increased along with the population growth locally at Chestermere, Langdon, and Strathmore.
The Government of Alberta’s Bow River Access Plan a new all-season road is planned for 2020. Once complete, other infrastructure improvements may be possible to enhance McKinnon Flat’s full recreational potential.
Legacy Island is located south on Highway 24 and west of Carseland at the 3-way stop sign. Trout Unlimited Canada – Bow River Chapter holds a Government of Alberta lease on the property that assures public access to the Bow River while protecting the island’s habitat and wildlife. Vehicle access to the boat ramp requires crossing a ford onto the island that can be challenging during high water flows and ice buildup in winter months.
Wyndham – Carseland – Provincial Park
The Johnson Island boat ramp can be access directly south of the town of Carseland. Johnson Island is a part of the Wyndham – Carsland Provincial Park system and therefore comes under their policy guideline. Toilets, garbage containment and a large parking lot is available. Designated camping is available below the Bow River Irrigation District dam that can be accessed from Highway #24. Paddlers can portage around the weir, but for the drift boat user, Johnson Island is the final destination.