If you like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” way of doing things, then you’ve got a bit of work to do in planning your paddling trip! We’ve boiled it down into 6 steps:

Step 1: Figure out how much time you have available. Whether you have only a day or several weeks, there are places you can paddle and experience the wilderness of Northwestern Alberta. Look at your schedule and discuss it with whoever you’re going paddling with, and determine how many days you have altogether.

Step 2: Decide where you’d like to paddle. Always wanted to canoe the historic Peace River? Seeking the remoteness of the Chinchaga? To help you decide, read the where we paddle page and the trip details page. Call us or email if you have any questions.

Step 3: Consider your travel time. If you’re coming from central or southern Alberta, out-of-province, or from farther away, you’ll need to consider your travel time to get to the water. In general, it takes 8 hours driving from Edmonton to High Level, Flow North’s base (add your pit-stops/break time onto that), or 1.5 hrs flying time. Approximate distances and travel times to some popular paddling put-ins are below.

River/Lake From To Distance (Time)
Peace River Edmonton City of Peace River 490 km (5 hrs)
Edmonton Fort St. John, BC 660 km (7.5 hrs)
Edmonton Hudson’s Hope, BC 760 km (9 hrs)
Edmonton Notikewin Provincial Park 630 km (6.5 hrs)
Edmonton Fort Vermilion 860 km (9.5 hrs)
High Level Tompkin’s Landing 77 km (45 min)
High Level Notikewin Provincial Park 190 km (2 hrs)
High Level City of Peace River 300 km (3 hrs)
High Level Dunvegan 365 km (3.8 hrs)
High Level Clayhurst Bridge 490 km (5 hrs)
High Level Hudson’s Hope, BC 650 km (7 hrs)
Wabasca River Edmonton North Wabasca Lake 390 km (4 hrs)
Edmonton Bridge crossing near Loon River 490 km (5 hrs)
Edmonton Senex Creek Bridge 530km (5.5 hrs)
Edmonton Tall Cree Bridge 580 km (6+ hrs)
High Level Tall Cree Bridge 155 km (1.5 hrs)
High Level Senex Creek Bridge 205 km (2 hrs)
High Level Bridge crossing near Loon River 250 km (2.5 hrs)
High Level Goosegrass (Trout Mtn) Bridge 410 km (4.3 hrs)
High Level North Wabasca Lake 560 km (~6 hrs)
Chinchaga River Edmonton Forestry Trunk Road crossing 613 km +120 km on backroad* (9+ hrs)
Edmonton Keg River area 730 km (7+ hrs)
Edmonton Chin Bridge (Hwy 58) 860 km (9 hrs)
High Level Chin Bridge (Hwy 58) 72 km (45 min)
High Level Keg River area 95 km (1 hr)
Hay River Edmonton Meander River (Reserve) 850 km (9 hrs)
High Level Hay-Zama Lake outlet 125 km (1.5 hrs)
High Level Meander River (Reserve) 70 km (45 min)
Hay/Zama Lake Edmonton Hay/Zama Lake (Habay) 900 km (4 hrs)
High Level Hay-Zama Lake (Habay) 125 km (1.5 hrs)

*The Forestry Truck Road is not a real road. It isn’t necessarily passable.

Step 4: Call us to reserve your boat. You can ask us any questions you might have, and we’ll let you know what types of canoes and kayaks we have available on your dates. Try to call at least 2 weeks before! If you call sooner, you’ll have your pick of the boats. You can also let us know if you’d like to take advantage of any of our other services, such as the drop-off or pick-up services.

Step 5: Plan your supplies. You’ll be backcountry camping, so you’ll need to bring everything you need with you. Don’t forget you have to keep all your garbage. Below is our packing list for overnight trips — if you book a Full-Service trip with us, we’ll pack all this for you (except your clothes and personal items)! [download pdf version]

Comprehensive Trip Packing List

Water Supplies:
– water tablets
– jug for mixing water tablets

– burner
– base
– fuel canister(s)
– grate or reflector oven or portable fireplace

Kitchen Supplies:
– pot(s)
– bowls
– cups
– cutlery
– paring knife (or 2)
– small cutting board
– dish rag
– dish towels
– paper towels
– biodegradable soap
– FOOD (make a separate list/menu)

For each kayak/canoe:
– bailer or water pump
– rope
– sponge
– spray skirt (for kayaks)
– spare paddle (for canoes)
– spare paddle in 2 halves (for kayaks)

For each person:
– paddle
– paddle leash
– whistle (on PFD)
– water bottle
– pocket knife (in PFD pocket)
– map(s)

Safety and Survival Kit:
– first aid kit
– extra band-aids
– first aid book
– signaling mirror
– matches in waterproof container
– fire starter sticks
– survival rations or protein bars
– extra water purification tablets
– reflective emergency blanket
– packet of salt
– cutting wire (instead of axe)
– multi-tool
– small bug spray bottle

Camping Supplies:
– tent(s) (don’t forget the poles)
– sleeping mats
– sleeping bags
– small folding chairs
– axe
– small saw
– matches
– toilet paper (in waterproof bag)
– bag for garbage
– flashlights (with good batteries)
– bug spray and/or bug hat/jacket
– tarps and/or groundsheet
– spare straps/rope

Additional Equipment/Supplies:
– GPS tracking device
– bear spray or bear bangers
– water-tight bags
– plastic pail (for putting food in tree)
– ammonia spray bottle (to “mark” your territory)
– spare zip lock bags (large)
– repair kit (see below)

– sun hat
– rain hat (or hood on rain jacket)
– heavy shirt or sweater
– medium-weight long-sleeved shirt
– light long-sleeved shirt
– T-shirt or sleeveless shirt
– underwear
– long underwear
– light pants
– zip-off pants (or shorts)
– fleece pants
– wind/rain pants
– old running shoes, water socks or some other easy-to-dry footwear
– dry shoes/hiking boots
– noeprene socks (if desired)
– 2 pairs warm (woolly) socks
– sport socks (several pairs)
– rain/windproof jacket
– fleece jacket
– bug jacket and/or hat
– sunglasses
– paddling gloves (if possible)

Personal Items:
– sleeping bag
– small pillow (if desired)
– washcloth
– towel (not too big)
– toothbrush and toothpaste
– hair brush
– sunscreen
– shaving supplies (if desired)
– prescription medications
– books, notebook, sketch book, etc. (if desired)
– binoculars/camera (in waterproof container, such as a Pelican case)

You do not need to bring:
– shampoo (you can use the biodegradable soap provided)
– smelly soaps/makeup/perfume/deodorant (they attract bears)
– citronella-based bug spray (there’s some evidence that this attracts bears)
– bottled water (use water purification tablets or filters instead)

*Repair Kit
This list comes from Bill Mason’s book Song of the Paddle. Some items are unnecessary for shorter, less-wilderness trips.
– accessories (various screws, nails, bolts, rivets, and spare flashlight bulb) in a small container
– Five-minute epoxy
– tube of seam sealer
– length of thin copper wire
– seat bolts
– cord or string
– contact cement
– small needle-nosed pliers
– piece of beeswax
– extra matches in waterproof container
– piece of cotton or nylon (for tent repairs)
– piece of soft leather (for repairing shoes, gloves, or packs)
– stitching awl
– whetstone (for sharpening knives or fish hooks)
– axe file (for sharpening an axe)
– needle and thread, safety pins
– duct tape
– swiss army knife (or other multi-tool)
– awl punch

If you are missing something, call us! We have everything and we can rent or lend individual items to you. If you are only going for a day trip, see this packing list. [download pdf version]

Step 6: Pack, pack, pack! Gather all your clothes, personal items, food and supplies and pack it all together. Using watertight bags/dry bags is best for most things, and bear-proof containers for food. If you need to rent some dry bags from us, just pack everything in plastic bags, and we’ll transfer everything into dry bags before you push off. Obviously, fresh food will have to be packed last, and carefully.

That’s all you need to do to prepare for your trip! It seems daunting, but if you take your time to plan, it’s not as hard as you think! 🙂