If you’re looking for an activity that combines adventure and relaxation at its finest, look no further. One of the best ways to spend time outdoors in the summer is a nice float down a scenic river. Now, we’re not talking about the type of river rafting that requires a guide, a helmet, and a serious appetite for adrenalin. Quite the opposite, actually. We’re talking about a nice, slow float on a summer day in a tube or inflatable boat surrounded by friends, family, and some gorgeous landscapes. If that’s more your speed, we’re excited to introduce you to one of our favourite natural lazy rivers in all of Alberta: McLeod River.
If you’re ready for a fun tubing experience on McLeod River, we’ve got all the details for you. Your journey will begin at the Woodlands County Put In, which you’ll find along West Mountain Road, just outside of Whitecourt. There’s parking, washroom facilities, and garbages available when you arrive. The day-use area is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, so be sure your journey starts and ends within those hours. Now that you know where you’ll be hopping on the water, you might be wondering where you’ll get out. The Take Out spot is about 5.5 kms from the Put In, and it can be accessed from Riverside Road, which you’ll turn onto from West Mountain Road.
The key to a river float is your “float plan.” This means having a vehicle at both ends of the float, a general plan that you can share with loved ones in case of emergency, and everything you need to prepare for your day on the water. You’ll begin with two cars, dropping the first at the Take Out location and having the people from the first car join those in the second to bring everyone to the Put In spot. Then, you’re ready to go.
You’ll want to pack lots of snacks and drinking water, a life jacket, some shoes that are good for wearing in water, a rope to tie tubes together, a paddle for the slower spots, some waterproof containers for your electronics and other items, a first aid kit, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, and anything else you think you might like to have along the way. Of course, you’ll need a good-quality tube or raft.
The entire float can take anywhere from 2.5 to 4 hours, so make sure you check the weather forecast and bring enough snacks and water. The duration of the trip will vary based on your group and the water levels, so be sure you leave yourself enough time in case it takes the full four hours. The river is gentle-flowing with some very light rapids, so it’s the perfect way to spend a relaxing day on the water. You’ll see lush greenery, dense forest, and even some wildlife along the shore as you float your way down the river.
This is such a fun and unique experience that doesn’t require much effort apart from arranging your vehicles and packing the essentials. It’s a mellow float that allows you to actually visit with your group, rather than focusing on navigating through rapids or paddling the whole time. We know you’ll love this adventure, and we suggest you hop on the water before summer turns to fall!
Britanny Burr is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the 2023 Hot Summer Guide advertising feature. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.