Beginner-friendly places to test out your whitewater paddling skills

Reversing Falls, Saint John, New Brunswick
Credit: Tim Cox

Reversing Falls, Saint John, New Brunswick

These falls go from a ripple to a monster as the tide drops. Time your paddle to match your skill and you have the world’s most versatile play spot.


For more info: kayakcox2@hotmail.com

Find accommodations in Saint John
Valleyfield, near Montreal, Quebec
Credit: David Cote

Valleyfield, near Montreal, Quebec

This 1,500-foot park’n’paddle channel of the St. Lawrence River sits downstream from a dam and runs most of the year.


For more info: quebecwhitewater.com

Find accommodations in Valleyfield
Madawaska 
River, Palmer 
Rapids, Ontario
Credit: Colin Moneypenny

Madawaska 
River, Palmer 
Rapids, Ontario

Between Toronto, Kingston and Ottawa, the Madawaska flows over beginner-friendly Palmer Rapids. Just downstream, Paddler Co-op offers lessons and camping. Take a 20-minute drive to Aumond Bay for an eight-kilometre run.


For more info: paddlerco-op.com

Find accommodations in Madawaska
Whitemouth River, Manitoba
Credit: Jamie Hilland

Whitemouth River, Manitoba

Just over an hour’s drive east of Winnipeg, Cook’s Falls confuses the Whitemouth River just enough to make things interesting, but not enough to intimidate the uninitiated. Though water levels vary, the norm is a safe array of waves and eddy lines, with private camping nearby.


For more info: wildernesssupply.ca

Find accommodations in Whitemouth River
Kananaskis River, Kananaskis, Alberta
Credit: Nikki Coward

Kananaskis River, Kananaskis, Alberta

The Kananaskis is still the best choice for accessible and friendly rapids near Calgary. From Widowmaker down to Canoe Meadows the grades reach class III, but below Canoe Meadows to the Trans-Canada bridge the water is pool-and-drop with little push. A two-minute car shuttle will get you back where you started.


For more info: aquabatics.com

Find accommodations near the Kananaskis River
Mamquam River, Squamish, B.C.
Credit: Squamish Paddling Club

Mamquam River, Squamish, B.C.

Just 10 minutes out of Squamish, past a gate on the Mamquam Forest Service Road, you’ll find some of the easiest-access beginner and intermediate paddling in B.C. Pick up a key for the gate at Valhalla Pure Outfitters, in Squamish. No shuttle is necessary for this walkable, repeat-run stretch.


For more info: squamishpaddlingclub.com

Find accommodations in Squamish
Plan your next great adventure with explore!
Off the beaten path locations, tips and tricks, interviews with intrepid explorers and more.