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You know it’s a good paddling location when the largest paddle in the world can be found there.

Built by Mark Teasdale, owner of Columbia Wetlands Outpost, the 60-foot-long, 5,300-pound paddle can be found on his property located south of the town of Golden. It’s a fitting statue for the region where the Columbia River snakes its way between the Purcell and Rocky Mountains, offering some of the most scenic and easiest paddling in the country.

The river flows past the Columbia Wetlands, home to over 350 species of wildlife including “diverse bird species [that] migrate through,” Mark says. “We see blue herons, eagles, ducks, geese, elk, deer, moose, coyotes, wolves, black bears…it is beautiful all year round.” The Columbia can be paddled to Golden from its headwaters near the community of Canal Flats 160 kilometres south, but the most popular section that takes less than 3-4 hrs to complete starts in Nicholson and is a common day-off float among the locals.

Columbia Lake is located in the Rocky Mountains, in the eastern part of the BC, and is the headwaters of the Columbia River. From there it snakes north through the East Kootenay region and past wetlands that are habitat for hundreds of species and migratory birds. Its flow is dependent on freshet and tends to be faster in the Spring months but mostly the area of the river leading up to, and past Golden is slow and calm year round. It’s a stunning setting for a paddle because the waterway is flanked by the Purcell Mountains to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east.

Quick Facts

Length: 10-30 kms
Season: Year-round
Style: Moving Water
Difficulty: Class I
River Features: Wood Hazards, Under current
Access: This is a High Volume Class River
Experiences: Canoe/Kayak/SUP

Gear & Safety

Paddlers should carry the usual safety gear and be aware not to approach any wildlife. 

Columbia River Wetlands

  1. Canyon Creek Road Bridge / Nicholson – Parking is on the left just before the bridge along with the river access.
  2. Limited take-out and on-lake/river exits at high water. Best accomplished at low water levels when more shoreline and beaches are present.
  3. Columbia Wetlands – The main channel is easy to follow but there are small tributaries that lead to the still waters of the wetlands. The only main fork is located just south of Golden and paddlers should stay left as the side channel offers excellent wildlife viewing but does not reconnect with the main river.
  4. Fisher Road near the airport – Take out is on River Right. Note this take out is easy to miss in high water
  5. Bridges – Strong down current, beware of pinning and underwater hazards posed by bridge pilings.
  6. Confluence Park – Take outs are the 2 large beaches just before the confluence of the Kicking Horse River. Outhouse and picnic tables available
  7. Kicking Horse Drive Bridge – Take-Out both upstream and downstream of the bridge.

Paddle pros

Here are the experts who will help perfect your paddling trip.

Canoeing in the Columbia wetlands
rentals and tours
Columbia Wetlands Outpost

Located between the scenic Rocky and Purcell Mountains, Columbia Wetland Outpost offers self guided tours to explore the surrounding nature.

Learn More
Rafting the Kicking Horse River
tours and rentals
Glacier Raft Company

Go whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River with Goldens original rafting company, Glacier Raft Co.

Learn More

Explore more in this community.

Every corner of BC has something unique to offer. From freshwater lakes on Vancouver Island to rafting on the whitewater of Squamish, you will never find a shortage of amazing paddling.

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