Alberta’s Aquatic Grandeur: 9 Famous Rivers that Flow Through the Heart of the Rockies

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Photo by Anna Newell on Unsplash / Copyright 2023

Known for its stunning natural beauty with a backdrop of the magnificent Canadian Rocky Mountains, Alberta is a province located immediately east of the continental divide in Western Canada. This province is quite famous for its rivers in Alberta, thriving arts and culture, and annual events and festivals.

Moreover, Alberta’s environment is home to many beautiful and serene rivers. Along with peace and calm, the rivers in Alberta also offer various recreational activities such as kayaking, rafting, fishing, etc.

Consider this article a sign if you were looking for a peaceful escape to the rivers from the hustling-bustling city life.

1. Visit These 9 Rivers in Alberta

1.1. Athabasca River

Athabasca River, Alberta Drone Video

The Athabasca River originates from Columbia Icefield in the Rocky Mountains of Jasper National Park. It travels 1,231 km before emptying into the largest freshwater delta in the world, the Peace-Athabasca Delta. It is also the longest river in Alberta.

Furthermore, Athabasca receives its tributary waters from the Muskeg River, north Berland River, Sulphur River, Sloat Creek, and Yates River.

Mesmerizing views surround the Athabasca River, including mountains, forests, pulp and paper mills, mining of the oil sands deposit, and provincial parks. There are also many trails and camping sites near the Athabasca River that offer a delightful river experience.

1.2. Bow River

Rivers in Alberta
Photo by Gurudas Gandhi on Unsplash / Copyright 2023

Bow River is approximately 587 km long as it receives water from Sheep Creek, Nose Creek, and Alice Creek. It flows through southern Alberta and then ultimately flows into the Hudson Bay. In addition, the river got its name from the reeds that grew along its banks.

These reeds were used to make bows, which were used by the indigenous crowd for hunting. The river is considered to be a fantastic spot for fly fishing.

There are also plenty of hiking trails carved around the Bow River, so if you are not a fan of fishing, then you can enjoy the scenic view of the river.

1.3. North Saskatchewan River

Summer Boat Tour North Saskatchewan River
By edmonton.ca

The North Saskatchewan River originates in the Canadian Rocky Mountains near the Saskatchewan Glacier and then flows eastward, merging with the South Saskatchewan River. It forms 1,800 meters above sea level in the massive 325 km2 Columbia Icefield.

The river then gets tributary water from the Bigoray River, Belcourt Creek, and Pinto Creek, and then it eventually flows into Hudson Bay by winding through Edmonton.

The Edmonton Valley Park System of the river is a must-visit and North America’s largest urban park destination.

Here, the visitors can also explore the North Saskatchewan River by kayak or canoe, take a hike or bike along its banks, or relax and take in the serene view of the river. The river is also year-round and famous for jet boating, fishing, gold panning, etc.

1.4. Oldman River

Chasing Cutties and Rainbow trout on the upper Oldman river.

This 362 km long river originates from the East of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and eventually empties into the Southern Saskatchewan River.

Oldman River offers recreational activities like fishing and kayaking. If adventure isn’t your preference, then you can relax by the river and appreciate the natural beauty of southern Alberta.

1.5. Milk River

The Milk River is approximately 1,173 km long and got its name from the milky-looking water. It flows through southern Alberta, Canada, and Montana, mixing into the longest river in America, the Missouri River, and the Gulf of Mexico watershed. The Milk River is formed by the confluence of its South and Middle forks.

Its scenic beauty and excellent trout fishing make the Milk River known. Moreover, the surrounding area of the Milk River is home to various flora and fauna.

Visiting the Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park and Milk River Ridge Reservoir for outdoor recreational activities would be best.

1.6. Peace River

Discover Peace River | Mighty Peace | Northern Alberta, Canada

If you are looking for a peaceful getaway to relax and unwind, then the Peace River should be on your list. This 1,923 km long river was named after the Peace Point, which settled a territorial dispute.

Peace River originates from the Canadian Rockies and flows northward across the Alberta prairies. It receives its tributary waters from the Smoky and Wabasca Rivers.

Subsequently, the river then flows into the Mackenzie River, which ultimately drains into the Arctic Ocean. Fishing enthusiasts will encounter diverse fish species, such as the northern pike, whitefish, and walleye.

The Historic Dunvegan Provincial Park is a must-visit as it will give you a glimpse into the history of the Peace River.

1.7. Hay River and Hay River Watershed

Hay River, NT Canada 2021

This 702 km long river is a tributary of the Peace River. The river is home to various fish species, including the walleye, arctic grayling, and northern pike.

Hay River is counted among the northern rivers of Alberta. Located near the border of the Northwestern Territories is the Little Hay River Watershed.

The watershed covers an area of about 51,700 square kilometres, including several different landscapes such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, etc. Visitors to this watershed can enjoy various outdoor recreational activities such as fishing, kayaking, boating, etc.

1.8. Mackenzie River

Earth from Space: Mackenzie River, Canada

It is the 13th most extended river system in the world. Its mainstream is about 1,738 km long. The Slave, Peace, and Finlay Rivers form the Mackenzie River.  The Athabasca River joins the Finlay-Peace River to form the Slave River, which flows into the Great Slave Lake.

Mackenzie River originates from the Great Slave Lake and empties into the Arctic Ocean. It runs through a stunning landscape of dense forests and majestic mountains.

However, its water is not ‘crystal-clear’ due to high turbidity and total (mainly particulate) trace metals.

1.9. East Prairie River

East Prairie River is a stream situated near the High Prairie in the Slave Lake region. The river is well known for its clear water and abundant fish population, making it a popular spot for fishing. The estimated terrain elevation above seal level is 577 metres.

The river’s surrounding area is also home to several provincial parks, including the Peace River Wildland Provincial Park. Hence, this river is a popular tourist spot for hiking, camping, bird watching, etc.

2. To Sum Up

Finally, these rivers in Alberta contribute to the biodiversity of the province. These rivers are important in the province’s cultural, ecological, and economic state.

They also support aquatic fauna and flora and are vital water sources for agriculture and industries. So, if you ever plan to visit Canada, you should check out these rivers in Alberta!

Last Updated on by Namrata

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