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Calgary River Access Strategy

Bow River near Edworthy Park

The Bow and Elbow rivers are integral to our city and provide extensive opportunities to promote social, economic, and environmental well-being in Calgary. In response to a notice of motion, The City of Calgary conducted extensive engagement and worked with internal and external partners to develop a Calgary River Access Strategy, which was approved by Council on February 13, 2017.

The Strategy focuses on four priority areas: criteria for identification of key river access points, environmental impact considerations, educational, and economic opportunities. The goal of the Strategy is to improve opportunities for recreation, environmental education, and economic endeavours on Calgary’s rivers, while ensuring public safety and the protection of riparian habitats.

River Access Sites

The River Access Map indicates current and future river access sites. While improvements on priority sites will be completed in 2017 and 2018, it is expected the bulk of the work will be completed after 2019 in the new budget cycle. Priority sites for funding include: West Baker Park, Sunnyside, Inglewood Bridge, Harvie Passage, Ogden Bridge, Graves Bridge, as well as placement of signage along the river.

View the River Access Map 

River Access Point Legends

​Hand Launch Boat Ramps ​A total of 4 boat ramps that are assigned to only Emergency Services vehicle use. They are available only as hand launch sites until upgrades are complete.
​Existing Boat Ramps ​There are currently 6 boat ramps that can be accessed by vehicles.
​Priority Boat Ramp Development Calgary’s River Access Strategy has proposed 3 new boat ramps for completion within 3 years​.
Future Boat Ramps​ Four sites have been identified for future development.​
​Bow River Hand Launches These sites are accessible from road parking or parking lots. Local amenities are listed on the site photo​.
Elbow River Hand Launches​ ​Very popular for float tubing. Road side parking and parking lots are limited at some sites.
Glenmore Reservoir Ramps​ ​Glenmore Reservoir is a centre of rowing, sailing and paddlers activities.
The Wave​ ​The 10th Street NW Bridge has waves that are used by the local river surfing community.
​Conservation Areas There are 2 wildlife conservation reserves on the Bow at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Poplar Island Wildlife Reserve. Access to these sites from the river is prohibited​.

Harvie Passage

Harvie Passage is currently under construction and will not be open to the public until 2018. Extreme caution is needed when floating the Bow River upstream of this site. A safe take-out site must be determined prior to a river excursion.

Graves Bridge

There is a hard boat launch underneath the Graves Bridge, where Glenmore Trail crosses the Bow River. The 2013 flood significantly changed the riverbank in this area. There is now a large gravel bank between the water and the boat ramp. There have been multiple reports of vehicles driving into the river and along the gravel bar. According to Alberta Environment and Parks, anyone doing this can face fines, Under the Public Lands Act, ranging from $250 up to $25,000.

Our rivers are important ecosystems. Vehicles can introduce oil, gasoline and other pollutants, or create harmful ruts and erosion problems that affect these sensitive areas. To prevent this type of activity, a gate was installed at the Graves Bridge access site. Because we realize that many responsible boaters rely on the Graves Bridge site for river access, the gate will remain open at this time. However, we will monitor the situation, and the gate may be closed and locked if misuse of the gravel bar and river continues. The City is also seeking approval from Alberta Environment and Parks to install concrete barriers that would restrict access to the gravel bar, but still allow for boat launches.

River Construction Projects

Check out these sites for construction projects that may impact your journey: