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  • Floating the Elk River

What better way to cool off during the hot summer days than by floating down the Elk? Lifejackets should be worn at all times.

The peaceful section between the North Fernie Bridge and Dogwood Park is the recommended section for floating in tubes. Many continue to a small sandy area at James White Park or a small pull-out just after the Stanford Hotel. You'll be surrounded by the mountain view as you gentle cruise by the town. We recommend picking up a copy of the Elk River Map and Guide prior to any outing on the water. Due to the dynamic nature of the river, conditions will change throughout the season, please always check with the Visitor Information Centre for updates.

Accessing the Elk River

Parking is very limited at the highway pull-off by the north Fernie bridge due to the Fairy Creek bridge construction this summer. Try accessing the river from Annex Park instead where a parking area is available by taking 11th Street over the dyke, or parking by Maiden Lake behind Independent Grocery Store and walking over to the river.

There are also some great walk-and wade fishing opportunities along Fernie’s extensive dyke trail system in this section. Beware the water stays cold throughout the summer. 

River Etiquette

  • Avoid overtaking other paddlers in rapids - wait for flatwater to pass another boat.
  • Give walk and wade fishers standing in the river lots of room to avoid entanglement with lines and hooks.
  • Respect the solitude and privacy of other groups having a river experience on the shore.
  • Please keep the Elk River and its banks litter-free! Pack out what you pack in. Look upstream before moving off. Give moving boats the right of way.

5 Tips to Play Safe on the Elk River

  • Know where you are going and be aware of hazards i.e. rapids, sweepers and log jams. Stay on the inside of sharp corners to avoid colliding with woody debris. If you do collide with debris, climb on top to avoid getting trapped underwater.
  • Always wear a PFD/life jacket and shoes for walking on rocks and pushing off obstacles.
  • If you end up in the water, swim defensively on your back with feet downstream avoiding obstacles like rocks, trees and log jams where you can easily get pinned.
  • Be prepared for cold water and changes in weather conditions. There is a high risk of hypothermia if part or all of your body is submerged in the Elk River for a length of time.
  • Lose the booze and keep a clear head. You might need it to help a friend or avoid a bad situation. Celebrate your float on a warm beach or patio after.
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