When you first arrive in the Columbia River Valley (via Radium Hot Springs + Invermere) region, you are greeted by a large valley expanse and host to North America’s largest continuous wetland. The view from high above on highway 95 quickly excites would-be photographers, bird-watchers and outdoor enthusiasts, but to truly enjoy and breathe in this valley as per David Thompson so long ago, you will need to get a boat (any will do!) and see it from the water.
Columbia River Paddle, owned and operated by outdoor lovers Max & Penny for thirteen years, has been the go-to business for paddling water adventures in the Columbia Valley. They specialize in canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking with a relaxed and easy approach, offering self guided, guided and wetlands bird tours, as well as ladies nights, voyageur-style trips and overnight tours.
As regular visitors to the Columbia River region for the past 4 years, we had been thinking about the logistics of a river trip from Invermere to Radium Hot Springs. We figured we would rent the boats ourselves and do a two car trip, but after I heard about the amazing tours offered by Columbia River Paddle from the Radium Hot Springs Visitor Centre, we decided to leave it to the pros to show us the best route, provide all the equipment and a lift back to our cars afterwards as well.
What to Expect:
This 4-hour family-friendly guided kayak/canoe trip will take you on a journey through this great North American river and wetlands, where you’ll discover and learn some cool facts (like Steamboat Mountain is neither in the Rocky nor the Purcell range, but is a mountain made up of sediment and minerals moved during the ice-age), spy beaver dams, eagles nests, baby geese and maybe even a school bus!
We arrived at our required check-in time for our guided “Lazy River” tour to helpful and courteous staff. We signed waivers, chose our boats, paddles and life jackets, had a safety briefing and then our group set on our way.
I’ll admit that while this guided tour is called the “Lazy River” tour, there is certainly nothing lazy about it. A few parts of the river were a bit of a challenge and some open water areas proved to be a bit windy, and for those who do not normally do this type of activity, the length of 4 hours could be a bit demanding.
Our kids are 11 and 13 years old and have some previous kayaking experience, but we had never paddled a canoe with them. Brilliant me thought this would be a great chance to try canoes and what’s that saying… hindsight is always 20/20? Although we fared okay with the canoes (though an eddy or two might have been fought and one child may or may not have given up for awhile!), I am wishing we had chosen kayaks for their maneuverability in the wind and current; however, that decision is all on us.
If you have younger children, this trip might be a bit too much for them, but it would depend on the child, or you may choose a larger boat that holds more people/adults.
The hot and sunny day (+25C) of our outing certainly made our sandbar stop for a snack and break much needed, so be sure to pack extra water and sunscreen (oops!) to reapply.
Camera or Go-Pro? I found it a bit tricky to get my phone out to take pictures, so if you have a Go-Pro you may enjoy the hands-free approach to remember your day.
Overall, we had an amazing day on-the-water with Columbia River Paddle and we highly recommend them! We were able to have a safe outing as a family, without having to deal with all the extra logistics, plus, our guide Sierra had grown up in the area, so she knew all the local lore and hidden treasures.
*Also, the train. Being on the river as the Canadian Pacific train zoomed past (twice!) was the icing on the cake!
Disclosure: UrbanCasual.ca was hosted by Columbia River Paddle on a guided “Lazy River'“ Invermere to Radium Hot Springs tour for the purpose of this review. All opinions belong to UrbanCasual.ca.