White water rafting on the Bow river Banff
Reimar Gaertner/age fotostock
Originating at Bow Lake, nearly 100 kilometers (62 miles) up the Icefields Parkway from the town of Banff, the Bow River runs down the valley all the way to Calgary. Most journeys into the Canadian Rockies follow the Bow River upstream; it’s what gave early explorers access to the area, so seeing the landscape from its turquoise waters is a fantastic way to embrace and understand the original treks into the mountains. Many rafting companies offer guided trips down different portions of the river, most of which take the form of a cruisy float. For details, check out outfitters like Rocky Mountain Raft Tours. If you are comfortable paddling on your own, canoe, kayak and stand-up-paddleboard rentals are available in downtown Banff, right by the river at the Banff Canoe Club.