5 Best Places to Kayak and Canoe in Canada

|December 15, 2020
Born and raised in the warm Sicily, Italy, Francesco has always been devoted to the Arctic outdoors. After several summers spent exploring the vast wilderness of Alaska and Canada, he has now moved to Iceland, where he spends his time working and guiding on glaciers.

Boasting an incredible variety of ecosystems, Canada is an endless wilderness that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Pacific. Canada is the ultimate destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. However, the most genuine way to experience a country which is home to more than two million lakes and rivers is by kayaking or canoeing.


The sheer number and variety of rivers and lakes in Canada can be overwhelming. We have put together a beginner’s list with our selection of the best places in Canada to go paddling!  

1. Lake Louise

Lake Louise is nestled in the very heart of Banff National Park and surrounded by sharp and soaring peaks. With its unique emerald green waters, Lake Louise is among the most spectacular lakes in the country.

Guarded by Mount Victoria, at an altitude of 1,731 meters, Lake Louise offers a lifetime’s worth of jaw-dropping opportunities to paddle on a vast sea of turquoise glacier-fed water. But you won’t be alone, because the wildlife on shore will often keep you company!

Plus, with its parking lot and clearly marked path leading to the lake entry point, Lake Louise is easily accessible.

If you want to visit Lake Louise without missing out on the other hidden gems of the national parks, check out our multiday package.

2. Johnstone Strait, Vancouver Island

Johnstone Strait is a narrow glacier-carved passage with rocky shores and protected waters. Over 300 orcas (killer whales) live in this ecological reserve, along with minke, humpback and gray whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, porpoises and seals.

With its wildlife, rainforests and mountain scenery serving as the backdrop, Johnstone Strait is the perfect destination to bring the joy of kayaking to the next level.

A good base camp is essential for enjoying all that Johnstone Strait has to offer. Located on the north end of the strait, Telegraph Cove is among the best locations for a campsite. From here you can launch a boat, spot bears and camp around a bonfire in the evening to recharge your batteries after a day spent paddling among orcas.

For such an adventure, maximizing your time is key. Here’s our offer to help with that.

3. Yukon River

Canoeing on the mighty Yukon River is probably the most iconic adventure in the Canadian wilderness.

Flowing across Alaska from the Yukon Territory to the Pacific Ocean,  the Yukon River is a mecca for paddlers around the world. Mostly famous for its importance during the Klondike Gold Rush, nowadays the river is partially a national historical heritage.

Canoeing on the Yukon River does not only mean paddling through history, but you’ll be exploring a healthy ecosystem and spotting plenty of wildlife such as bald eagles, grizzly bears, wolves and moose.

It’s the perfect half-day activity in Whitehorse, which can easily become a full day adventure. And for more eager paddlers who want to journey into the depth of the river wilderness and follow the old Gold Rush route, there are plenty of expedition options – from an 8-day to a full 20-day canoe trip all the way to Dawson City, the Gold Rush capital.  

4. Lake Moraine

Situated at an altitude of 1,883 meters, Lake Moraine is the true hidden pearl of Banff National Park.

In the heart of the Valley of the Ten Peaks, the lake is  surrounded by rugged peaks, rock formations and waterfalls. This spectacular glacier-fed tarn is the perfect destination for those who are seeking an unforgettable paddling experience. You’ll encounter brilliant blue-green waters or a vivid turquoise color depending on the season.

Its vibrant turquoise waters are not the only spectacle though. The location also offers several hiking trails which bring you further into the backcountry, far away from crowds. It’s the perfect conclusion to a day spent paddling.

However, depending on the activity, it is very important to choose the right season to go hiking. Many trails are closed during the winter and due to bear activity some have seasonal restrictions.

The landing point for a canoe or kayak is easy to access, as the parking lot is very close. Just remember to rent your boat before entering the national park! 

5. Baffin Island

Sitting above the Arctic Circle on the eastern edge of Nunavut, Baffin Island is a  remote and pristine destination for any Arctic enthusiast.

Exploration possibilities here are endless and kayaking to spot one of the most mysterious animals in the world is definitely one of them. With their unique protruding “tusks,” Narwhal populations are thriving among the fjords and bays of Pond Inlet. And as the ice melts in the very short two-week summer, these mystical animals adventure toward the shallow bays.

kayaking expedition in these remote and extreme seascapes is something absolutely uniqueJust image kayaking in the ocean with a surreal silence only broken by the paddle and the noise of narwhals’ telltale blow. Don’t be surprised when their spiral tusks suddenly appear through the surfaceThis pure fantasy can become a reality!

In such a pristine area, wildlife encounters are also very common on land thanks to the fact that 60% of polar bear populations live on the archipelago along with the high density of arctic foxes and caribous. These animals are very often spotted while kayaking, as they linger on the coastline.

This type of adventure can pose many risk factors so it is suggested that local experts lead and guide you

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