Surfing in Calgary and Other Unexpected Sports Experiences

From downhill skiing in the valleys of Saskatchewan to kayaking at the floe edge, you can find outdoor adventure in some of Canada’s most surprising places.

Two men surfing under the Louise Bridge in Calgary
   Photo: Kelly Hofer

Ride the waves in landlocked Calgary. River surfing has picked up momentum in spots like the Louise Bridge (10th Street Bridge) downtown, where local wave riders are also plotting an urban beach. The sport is taking off, thanks to organizations like the Alberta River Surfing Association, a non–profit with ambitions to build artificial surf breaks to create waves in rivers in major cities province–wide.

February 25, 2020
A group of people golfing atop a glacier in Whistler
   Photo: Head-Line Mountain Holidays - Marc Dionne

Tee off on top of a glacier. Once you have finished a round at one of Whistler’s three championship golf courses, the Four Seasons Resort Whistler arranges helicopter rides for golf enthusiasts with a PGA pro to drive biodegradable balls through the mountain air to complete the “19th hole,” at an altitude of over 2,400 metres above sea level.

Downhill ski or snowboard in the flattest province. At Mission Ridge Winter Park in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, the slopes aren’t mountains – they are valleys created 14,000 years ago by melting glaciers. This is where Regina–born Olympic snowboarder Mark McMorris, who spent countless winter weekends here as a kid, got his start.

A large group of people in red caps swim across Lac Tremblant
   Photo: Jean-Marie Savard

Swim across Tremblant. Though most famous as a ski town, it’s also the site of an intense open–water race in summer: Traversée du lac Tremblant. The signature event – the 12 km Ultraswim – is open to advanced athletes only, who are transported by boat to one remote end of Lac Tremblant and must swim all the way back.

Kayaking in the arctic waters of Nunavut
   Photo: Arctic Kingdom - Liz Carino

Go kayaking at the floe edge. Canada has plenty of scenic places to paddle, but among the most dramatic is Nunavut. In late spring and early summer, you can kayak to the floe edge (an ecosystem known in Inuktitut as “sinaaq”). This is where the Arctic Ocean meets drifting ice by the shoreline, and Arctic wildlife congregates; keep your eye out for walruses, whales and polar bears.

A man sandboarding in the Yukon
   Photo: Darren Roberts - Yukon Tourism

Try sandboarding in Yukon. The Carcross Desert’s fine–grained sand dunes are one of Canada’s more bizarre geological formations, and they have become a popular sandboarding spot during summer months. By some measures, this miniature adventure playground is considered to be the world’s smallest desert (640 acres), but was actually once the bottom of a glacial lake.