Things to do in
Bow River

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Bow River: Our most recommended tours and activities

Banff: Family Friendly Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride

1. Banff: Family Friendly Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride

Start your tour in Banff, where you will meet a member of the riding office, who will check you in for your sleigh ride. Now it's time to climb into the sleigh and get cozy with your loved ones under a cozy wool blanket. Hear the tinkling of sleigh bells, as the horses lead you on a journey through Banff's mountain meadows. Along the way, listen to stories from your guide and soak in the spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountains, while keeping your eyes peeled for local wildlife, such as elk and deer. Finish your memorable excursion with a fireside warm-up stop after the ride, where you can toast a marshmallow and enjoy a warm drink back at the stables.

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Banff National Park: 1-Hour Bow River Horseback Ride

2. Banff National Park: 1-Hour Bow River Horseback Ride

Start the tour in Banff where you will meet a member of the riding office, who will check you in and provide you a helmet for your ride. From here, walk back outside into the sunshine and meet your trusty horse. Using a step, climb onto your horse under the direction of your guide, and learn some basic horseback riding techniques. Follow your guide along the tranquil Bow River and past the historic Cave and Basin Hot springs - the original birthplace of Banff National Park. This area is home to wildlife in amongst the thick marshes and grassy meadows. Enjoy unspoiled views of the magnificent Rocky Mountains along the way. After 1 hour of scenic horseback riding, return to the stables, where you'll disembark and say goodbye to your horse with some farewell pats.

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Banff National Park: Big Canoe River Explorer Tour

3. Banff National Park: Big Canoe River Explorer Tour

Enjoy the serenity of the Bow River on a family-friendly canoe tour. Get ready to be amazed by extraordinary views of Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies around you. This sightseeing tour is perfect for the whole family and doesn't require any previous experience. Meet at the Banff Canoe Club, just a 5-minute walk from downtown Banff. As you journey upstream, your expert guide will entertain you with stories of the past, history of canoeing, and interesting local facts. Admire the scenery around you, while learning how to paddle as a team. After 1 and a half hours of fun, enjoy a complimentary, refreshing lemonade on the shore.

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Banff: Morning Whitewater Rafting Tour in Horseshoe Canyon

4. Banff: Morning Whitewater Rafting Tour in Horseshoe Canyon

Embark on an exciting rafting trip through class 3-4 rapids and with big waves meaning you will get soaked and have lots of fun. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife sightings and enjoy the stunning outdoor beauty of the Horseshoe Canyon section of the Bow River. Start your rafting adventure with an optional pick-up in Banff or Canmore and enjoy the short scenic ride as it winds its way through the Canadian countryside. Once you're fitted with your wetsuits and other safety equipment, be transported in a comfortable bus a short distance to the starting point on the Bow River. Here, your guides will go through safety instructions and paddle techniques ready for your time on the river. Then it's time to jump aboard to start your journey. Admire the views during calm parts of the river and learn from your guide as they lead the group through different paddling techniques. Make sure to watch for the area’s local wildlife, including eagles soaring above and deer strolling along the river banks. Then, the river comes to life, kicking up a series of frothy rapids that will get your heart pumping. Hang tight and listen for your guide's instructions as he helps you navigate the whitewater through the shale cliffs. At the midway point, stop for an optional cliff jump into the glacier-fed waters of the Bow River. Depending on your adventure level you can choose from a medium or a big cliff jump, or simply enjoy watching the others take the plunge. After the thrill of cliff jumping, continue rafting until you reach the endpoint. Return to the river base for high fives, snacks, and optional return transport. This tour operates from mid May to early September, with transport available from late May onwards on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

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Banff: Private Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride

5. Banff: Private Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride

Embark on a ride on a horse-drawn carriage to explore the main sights of Banff in a fun, romantic, and authentic way. Each carriage can hold up to 6 passengers. Choose from 3 regular tours from downtown Banff. The Downtown Banff carriage ride is a 15-minute ride that takes you through the town and along the Bow River. Pass by many of the original homesteads of Banff, each having a story to tell. From the Bow River, pass by Banff’s Central Park and back onto Banff Avenue for your return to downtown. The Bow River carriage ride is a 30-minute ride that takes you over the Bow River and past the Indian Trading Post onto one of Banff’s prestigious residential streets. Follow the Bow River and loop back to downtown, crossing the Bow River again before returning to downtown Banff. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel ride is a 1-hour carriage ride along the Bow River and past Central Park. Continue over the Bow River, past the Luxton Museum, and past the world-famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

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Banff: 2-Day Overnight Backcountry Lodge Trip by Horseback

6. Banff: 2-Day Overnight Backcountry Lodge Trip by Horseback

On this backcountry adventure, your guide will take you along a route that the early explorers of the Canadian Rockies blazed nearly a century ago. It’s the ideal way to dip your toe into horseback trekking in Banff. On the first day, start the trip at the stables in Banff, where you will meet your trusty horse, specifically picked for you. Even if you have no experience, you'll be matched with a mild-mannered horse and be taught everything you need to know. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you gain confidence in the saddle. All the horses are steady, responsive, and can be counted on to cross any terrain, from forest paths to boulder-strewn creeks. On the ten mile journey to your lodge, follow the trail alongside the rushing glacier-fed waters of the Bow River, Healy Creek, and Brewster Creek. Along the way, stop for a simple, hearty cowboy-style hot lunch on the banks of the river. You’ll arrive at Sundance Lodge late afternoon, This is an ideal place for those who want to marvel at the beauty of the Banff backcountry, while still being swaddled in comfort. Settle into your room and freshen up from your day on the trail, then gather around the table for a gourmet meal and an evening of conversation. Arise on the second day to enjoy a delicious breakfast, and some free time to enjoy your morning and the surrounding countryside. You will begin the ride back to Banff in the late morning, bringing along handmade sandwiches for the journey, as well as fresh-baked goodies and fruit. Return to Banff at approximately 4:30 PM, with plenty of stories to tell about your adventure in the backcountry.

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Calgary to Lake Louise: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour

7. Calgary to Lake Louise: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour

Follow your audio tour guide along the Trans-Canada Highway 1, one of the most exciting drives in Alberta. Start anywhere along the route between Calgary and Lake Louise. Starting points also include Sunshine Ski Resort & Nakiska. The tour experience is the same in any direction. Learn about the discovery of the Banff Hot Springs and admire the beauty of Banff National Park. Hear about Kananaskis Country and other sights at your own pace. With no time constraints, enjoy the freedom to stop anywhere and take your time exploring. Entertaining audio clips will play automatically as you drive using a live GPS map, and no data is used during the tour. Enjoy a fun audio tour with information and trivia to keep the whole family laughing and engaged along the way. Each point of interest along the way has a multiple-choice trivia question about the sights. Keep score and learn plenty of interesting facts along the route.

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Calgary: Bow River Self-Guided Rafting Trip

8. Calgary: Bow River Self-Guided Rafting Trip

Choose the perfect raft for your group and find it ready for you at the meeting point. Float down the class I section of the Bow River, a relatively flat and calm part of the river. Use the current and flow of the river to guide you, and paddle at your leisure. The beautiful clear water of the Bow River originates from the Rocky Mountains glaciers. Take advantage of the clean water with a cooling swim in the river if you so desire. The easy rapids of the river mean you and your group can take over the “guide’s paddle”. Guide yourselves, call commands, and steer the raft as a team. The river will give you feedback on how you’re paddling, and it’s a chance to finish the day in exhilarating fashion. Once you reach the end of the rafting trip, simply hand over the equipment to the crew at the finishing point at St Patrick’s Island.

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Banff: Wildlife on the Bow River Big Canoe Tour

9. Banff: Wildlife on the Bow River Big Canoe Tour

Discover life on the Bow River in a 12-seat Canoe. Start the tour in the evening and learn fun facts about animal habitats, behaviors, and conservation in the region. Escape the bustling Banff streets and get back to nature. Enjoy paddling up the scenic Bow while keeping your eyes peeled for some of the locals like bald eagles, elk, muskrats, and maybe even “Barry” the resident beaver. Let our informative guides share the best practices for wildlife encounters and discover the challenges they face with increasing human interaction.

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Banff: Horseback Ride with Cowboy Cookout BBQ Lunch

10. Banff: Horseback Ride with Cowboy Cookout BBQ Lunch

Meet your guide at the stables in Banff, where your adventure will begin. After check in at the office, walk back outside into the sunshine and meet your trusty horse. Climb onto your horse under the direction of your guide, and learn some basic horseback riding techniques.  Embark on a 1-hour ride along the Bow River and past the historic Cave and Basin hot springs towards the lunch spot at 3 Mile Cabin. Upon arrival, let the cook know how you would like your steak cooked or first try a round of lassoing or horseshoes. Tuck into your cooked-to-order steak along with a baked potato, cowboy baked beans, Caesar salad, buns, and dessert. This sheltered lunch spot has comfortable picnic benches and there's plenty of time to relax by the fire or try some western style games after lunch if you prefer. After your tasty lunch, take a 1-hour ride back along the Sulphur Mountain Trail and up and around the Windy Knoll, where you can see dazzling views of the surrounding mountains. Back at the stables, disembark and say goodbye to your horse with some farewell pats.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Bow River

Want to discover all there is to do in Bow River? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Bow River

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 139 reviews

Fascinating activity! The horses were well trained and the view was amazing. The staffs were very patient and nice with our group, and also I want to thank to this one staff who taught me so well with riding horse. I had a really good time with my horse, Tucker, too!

This was our first time horseback riding so we were a bit nervous but the team was so good at explaining everything and the horses were extremely well-trained!!!! It was soooo easy to navigate them. We absolutely enjoyed ourselves.

Assistance with just 2 steps up from Mike... made a bucket list check mark for one 78 yr old man who just about lost his life to cancer just 2 months ago. These moments will be treasured for always... thank you Mike.

What a great ride! Staff were friendly, fun and knowledgeable! Only disappointed because it was cloudy and difficult to see the mountains but weather control is obviously not their fault AT ALL

Very good family activity. We really enjoyed it. Liam was a great tour guide.