When I was thinking of an outdoor activity for my youngest child, Gunner, floating the Athabasca river through Jasper National Park quickly flowed through my mind. Because Gunner is still a cub, trekking, mountain biking and rock climbing are still out of his league. The calm of the Athabasca river is perfect for the entire family.
In addition, families don’t have to go far to put in. The Athabasca river runs so close to Jasper Town, the whole family can walk to the starting point, catching a real Rocky Mountain tan the whole time.
On the raft, there are sure to be other families to share the whitewater experience. The Athabasca river rapids never exceed class 2, meaning that a little white water will get the raft moving with very little chance of tipping over. Even if the kiddies did fall into the drink, you can bet they are all strapped into life jackets, wet suits and booties to keep their bobbing heads above water.
Just call Jasper Vacations to book the rafting day trip. Prices run between $65 and $100 per person. Remember that each person or child must weigh at least 90lbs (40kg).
The Athabasca river forms in the Columbia Icefields, north of Jasper townsite. I’ve been told that the word Athabasca comes from an indigenous language meaning “the place where plants grow one after another”. Floating the river, one quickly realizes what plants the word is referring to, something like a mountainous jungle.
This river was designated a Canadian Heritage River due to its important role in the 19th and 20th century fur trade as well as the construction of railways and roads opening up the Canadian west. Counter intuitively, the Athabasca river runs north, traveling 1,231km before dumping into Lake Athabasca. The water system then continues north as the Slave River into Great Slave Lake, draining into the Mackenzie River system and eventually into the Arctic Ocean.
Thus, it wouldn’t be a lie to tell little Gunner than if we were to stay on the raft, we’d end up in the Arctic Ocean, floating among the icebergs.