Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River valley can offer all sorts of summer fun. Try something more adventurous like getting out on the river with a raft or kayak or rent an e-bike and head to the paved trails which travel the entire city’s width. More relaxing outings await you in the expansive river valley as well like family picnics, scenic walks, photo opportunities, and more golf than you could imagine for your city!
Between the old and new parts of the river valley, or the man-made and natural parts of it, there are photo ops around every corner suitable for all types of occasions like engagements and weddings, family get togethers, baby announcements, or for a day just snapping photos. These spots offer spectacular backdrops all summer long:
- 100th Street Funicular
- Kinsmen Park
- Keillor Point
- Louise McKinney Riverfront Park
- Highlevel Bridge
Black Gold River Tours
If you’d prefer to launch onto the river with an experienced professional before you float on your own, you can book tours with local guides from Black Gold Tours. These tours can take you on an adventurous and fast ride via jet boat; they can take you through narrower and harder-to-access river spots, or they can float you out to the safest and best swimming spots! The packages each offer a different type of adventure.
Address: Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park, 13221 Buena Vista Rd NW, Edmonton
High-Level Bridge Streetcar
You can experience the river valley in the heart of Edmonton while riding high above the North Saskatchewan in the High Level Streetcar. While you see the river valley from a new perspective, you’ll also learn a bit about the history of Edmonton and Old Strathcona’s development over the years. The view you’ll encounter after leaving the tunnel to approach the bridge is enough to take your breath away. The return view isn’t so bad either!
Address: 8379 103 St. NW, Edmonton
Dawson Park and Edmonton’s Hoodoos
Our river valley offers exceptional scenery, but did you know it offered hoodoo views, too? All you need to do is venture 1km on the paved or dirt trail leading into Dawson Park. From the bridge, the hoodoos, and the houses of the old Riverdale neighbourhood, there is a ton to see in this neighbourhood; and you can do so on bike or foot.
Camping & Glamping
Edmonton’s wide expanse of urban parkland offers up some unique opportunities for outdoor fun. Just south of the downtown core, you can camp at the Rainbow Valley Campground, in either RV or tent, and get a taste of Edmonton’s urban wilderness.
Take in the ultimate glamping experience without even leaving Edmonton. These unique accommodations are located on the islands of the North Saskatchewan River and range from geodomes, to tipis and tree tents.
Visit the Zoo
Edmonton’s Valley Zoo is on the north banks of the river across from Whitemud Park. This family favourite attraction brings you to a variety of animal habitats all within one place: visit the urban farm, the homes of large carnivores, a nocturnal wing, or chill out with the Harbour and Northern Fur seals. The surrounding Sir Wilfred Laurier Park is also fun to explore after your visit with great river views, and scenic family photo opportunities.
Address: 13315 Buena Vista Road & 87 Ave NW
ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ The Indigenous Art Park
Take an up-close and in-person outdoor art walk in the river valley’s Queen Elizabeth Park. Your walk through the new Indigenous Art Park takes you past an outdoor gallery of six public displays that each tell a different story. The pieces were created by six different Indigenous artists around the theme of “[telling] stories of this place.”
Address: 10380 Queen Elizabeth Park Rd. NW
Walk amongst the wildflowers and plants of the Muttart Conservatory. You can come here on a sunny or rainy summer day and take photos and spend the day exploring inside and outside the Muttart. Purchase your tickets in advance to reserve your spot.
Address: 9626 – 96A Street
Fort Edmonton Park
If you’re both history buffs, and are wondering what Fort Edmonton is all about, then there is no better time to visit than this year. The Park underwent recent renovations so even if you’ve been here before, there are still new features to take part in at the Fort.
Address: 10205 100 Ave NW, Edmonton
John Walter Museum
Among the many things you can do at Kinsmen Park is the historical site of the John Walter Museum. Paths take you through a treed in area which is home to several preserved buildings from the old Walterdale and Strathcona communities.
Address: 9180 Walterdale Hill NW, Edmonton
Snow Valley Aerial Park
Imagine an extreme jungle gym combined with a treehouse, and you’ve got the Snow Valley Aerial Park. The first of its kind in Canada, this tower of obstacles lets all ages be a kid playing on the playground once again – but larger than life. Built on the theme “Edmonton’s River Valley”, the park features over 100 games on the structure. It is very safe – you are always attached to the safety line by your CLiC-iT belay system – but it will test your nerve and your balance as you move across the themed elements to move around the park. Challenges are rated like a ski hill (green, blue, black) to help you decide which way to go.
Address: 119 Whitemud Dr NW, Edmonton
Art & Architecture
There are a lot of unique pieces of architecture and public art hidden in the river valley, and some obvious. Many of the bridges connecting different trails are newer and offer lookout points over the water, while public art can be found around almost every major trail. The Discover YEG Map can show you all these structures, and the best way to get to each.
Hit the waters of the river this summer and relax in the sun or see parts of Alberta from a whole new perspective. The North Saskatchewan is a great paddle spot for a calm day and the water levels in July have remained safely low for paddlers of all kinds: the stand-up kind, the kayak kind, and the canoe kind! The city has a few boat launches spread across the Edmonton stretch of the river, making it easier to plan your float day.
- Canoeheads: 9420-152 St.
- Kumbaya Boat Rentals: 10318 80 St NW, Edmonton
- River Valley Adventure Co.: Louise McKinney Riverfront Park – 9731 Grierson Hill NW
- Paddleboats at Rundle and Hawrelak Parks – Closed for 2021; to reopen in 2022
Catch a sunset or sunrise
The high banks on either side of the river can be some of the best places in Edmonton to watch a sunrise or sunset. Over summer, you’ll need to rise early or stay up a little later in order to catch these often pink, orange, and amber skies.
- Keillor Point is one of the most unique lookouts in Edmonton and has amazing river valley and park views of west Edmonton.
- Queen Elizabeth Hill at Walterdale Bridge is one of Edmonton’s newest views and the hill faces northwest, allowing you to watch the sunset over the whole west side of the city.
Besides a great photo opportunity, the famous river valley swings offer an afternoon or evening of adventure while you hunt for the swings’ exact location. Your walk takes you through unpaved riverside trails, with the swing of a lifetime waiting for you at the end. Some people describe it as being a bit more thrilling than it seems in pictures!
- River Valley Swing: 10843-10727 75 St. NW
- Brandy’s Landing: 17103 23 Ave. NW ( broken at the time of publishing)
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Cycle or E-Bike
The paved shared pathway in the river valley can take you from the Cameron Ravine in Edmonton’s southwest, all the way to Hermitage Park in the city’s northeast. That would be quite a ride, so try a less intimidating bike around areas like Rundle Park, Dawson Park, Kinsmen Park, or Whitemud Park. Add a little speed to your cycle with an e-bike rental from Adventure Co., located down the banks of the river.
- River Valley Adventure Co. bike and e-bike rentals: 9731 Grierson Hill NW
- River Valley Trail System
Picnic with a View
Edmonton has an overwhelming amount of great picnic sites. To find your perfect spot, head to the City of Edmonton website and book in advance or find one where you can legally enjoy a bottle of wine or champagne together (assuming you are not driving home after). Not all city parks require you to reserve however, so it can be a spur of the moment date as well. And don’t worry about the food, these Edmonton dining spots have picnic baskets to go!
Edmonton may not be able to provide the real mountain biking experience, but there are parks and trails within the river valley that provide a great beginners’ experience before heading to the Rockies with your bike. The Edmonton Mountain Bike Alliance consists of many volunteers who maintain some of these trails and have provided detailed maps (with skill level recommendations) so you can know where to park or where to begin your adventure.
A unique feature along the river is the abundance of wooden staircases, some of which are quite tall and steep. They provide easy access to the river from neighbouring communities but can also be an intense workout that turns you into a stair master. Walk, jog, or skip up and down the stairs as many times as you can, follow it up with aerobics or stretching in the parks, and a walk along the trails. For those on the southwest part of Edmonton, and those looking for an intense workout, you can also try the Legs of Fire stairs off Devon Voyeuger Park. Some popular workout staircases include:
Frisbee Golf at Rundle Park
The disc/frisbee golf course at Rundle is 18-holes and takes you across most of the park’s green spaces. You won’t need to reserve your tee-time here, and the course is free to use. The course is built like a normal golf course with a few water hazards, fairways, and 18 chances to make par.
Kinsmen Pitch n’ Putt
Kinsmen Park encompasses a large part of the south riverbanks close to downtown, and has a leisure center, outdoor pool, playground, sports fields, and amazing views. Also hidden in the large trees is the Pitch n’ Putt Course with 18 putting greens that provide hours of exercise and fun. Once you’re on the course you will feel like you’ve left the city!
Address: 9100 Walterdale Hill NW
There is a scenic golf course around each turn of the river, all of which offer a peaceful escape in the middle of the city and 18 holes of golf.
- Windermere Golf & country Club
- Royal Mayfair Golf Club
- Victoria Golf Course
- Riverside Golf Course
- Highlands Golf Club
- Rundle Park Golf Course
- Ravencrest Golf & Country Club
- The Quarry
Between Rundle, Hawrelak, and Kinsmen Park alone you can find ample space for all kinds of sports, whether organized or not, like tossing a football or frisbee, playing a game of soccer or baseball, or making time for Frisbee Golf. If you play enough to work up a hunger, there are several picnic sites dotting the river valley which can be reserved (some of these allow alcohol), and some of which are first-come-first-served.
The river valley is not often referenced as a dining hot spot for Edmonton but take a closer look into the trees and you’ll find small and scenic café/restaurant patios where you can easily spend an entire afternoon or evening. The Culina Family of Restaurants have two locations in the valley at Hawrelak Park Pavilion, and the Muttart Conservatory while the River Valley Adventure Co. also have their Urban Green Cafe. For a finer dining experience, both the Fairmont Hotel Mac and the Marriot offer patios with exceptional views of the river and all south Edmonton.
- Culina on the Lake / Culina Muttart
- River Valley Adventure Co.: Louise McKinney Riverfront Park – 9731 Grierson Hill NW
- Confederation Lounge at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald: 10065 100 St.
- Riverside Bistro: 1 Thornton Ct NW
Dog Walks and Off-leash Areas
Give your furry companions some time to enjoy our beautiful river valley, too! These parks are permitted off-leash areas where you can enjoy a riverside walk while your dog enjoys a frolic. Terwillegar is the largest of the three with ample parking where you can find food and coffee trucks.
Queen Elizabeth Outdoor Pool
The river itself isn’t the best swimming spot, but right next to it in Kinsmen Park is one of the city’s outdoor pools open for this summer: Queen Elizabeth. It’s a great place to relax on a hot day, especially if you work downtown or live nearby. The pool has an onsite concession, a diving section, a kiddie section, and the option to sit in the sun or the shade.
Address: 9170 Walterdale Hill NW, Edmonton
There are several fish species to catch in the North Saskatchewan like Burbot, Goldeye, Lake Sturgeon, Mountain Whitefish, Northern Pike, Sauger, Sucker, or Walleye. Alberta breeds big fish, too, so don’t be surprised if you catch something over two-feet-long. You are free to cast a line from any safe shore, while many prefer to cast off on between Devon and Windermere.