Because Castlegar is located at the confluence of two major rivers, the Kootenay and the Columbia, there is no shortage of amazing paddling opportunities for water lovers. Plus there are three major lakes and and innumerable smaller ones all nearby. Whether you like cruising flat water in a canoe or on a stand up paddleboard or prefer playing in whitewater rapids in a kayak or raft, there is something for everyone. And the best part about paddling in Castlegar is you can do it right in the heart of the city! The Columbia River flows its way past the downtown core and one of the best places to access it is Millenium Park where small boats can easily be launched from the beach. Immediately north-west of downtown Castlegar is the Arrow Lakes system which offers no less than 230 kilometres of paddling opportunity! Other popular lake paddles that are easily accessible via car from Castlegar include Slocan Lake and Kootenay Lake. For those looking for something a bit faster and more exciting, the Slocan River, located a 20-minute drive northeast, offers class III rapids at certain times of the year. And there are standing waves located near the Brilliant Bridge, beside the Castlegar airport, and in Trail, which is a 20-minute drive south.
Floating the Slocan River? Click here for directions and safety guidelines.
Even on the flat, calm waters surrounding Castlegar, there are important safety precautions and regulations all paddlers should abide by. Firstly, Transport Canada mandates that, by law, all paddlers, wether in a canoe, raft, kayak or on a SUP must have the following:
- Lifejacket (Canadian approved)
- Buoyant heaving line min 15m (50′) long
- Whistle or another sound signally device
Transport Canada supports leash use, but not as an alternative to a lifejacket or personal floatation device. Other safety considerations for paddling in and around Castlegar are:
- Always paddle with a friend
- Tread lightly on the loose rocks, wear proper footwear
- Pay close attention to water levels – they change quickly
- Ask the locals paddlers about water levels or hazards
- Know your gear
- Know your skills
- Stay away from logs and other debris
- Bring water and a dry bag with a first aid kit, snack and a warm layer
- Leave no trace
Small craft launch in the heart of the city
Popular Paddling Spots
- Columbia River
- Arrow Lakes
- Slocan River
- Brilliant Bridge
- Slocan Lake
Paddling Guides & Rentals
- Guided rafting and kayak trips
- Rentals of kayaks, rafts, inner tubes, SUPs, and gear
Clean Drain Dry: Protect our waters!
Keep our water bodies pristine and free of invasive species. We ask all anglers to please CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY their boat and equipment. Watch for mandatory watercraft inspection stations throughout the area. ALL watercraft, including non-motorized ones must stop; otherwise, you may face a fine. For more information visit the CKISS website.