Pembina River Float How-to
Imagine you, in a tube, floating lazily down a meandering river. Now imagine happy laughter, feet splashing in the water, the sun shining down and a smile on every face you see. Add in majestic scenery and wildlife sightings along the way, and you have a recipe for many “Best. Day. Ever!” proclamations on the way home. If this sounds like something you want (and who wouldn’t?!), Drayton Valley is a great starting point.
There’s no denying that the fun factor on this classic summer activity is off the charts. With a little planning and preparation, you can totally make this adventure happen. The memories will last a lifetime. It might even become an annual tradition.
Parents, we already know what you’re thinking: “My kid(s) will love this adventure!” And you’re so right. But, we don’t recommend taking children younger than 5.
Where to get in (and out)
Floating the Pembina is a choose your own adventure deal! It mostly depends on how much time you have to dedicate to your float. For example, if you get in at the Cynthia Bridge and float to Easyford Park, it will take 8 to 10 hours, or longer if you stop to picnic or explore along the way. If you jump in south of Entwistle and get out at the Pembina River Provincial Park, it will take between 2 to 3 hours. Obviously, you don’t want to float past the Pembina River Provincial Park exit, so make sure you know where you’re getting out.
- Pembina Bridge at Lodgepole
- City Service Bridge at RR 92 and TWP 491A
- “Farmers’ Picnic” at RR 91 and TWP 491
- Cynthia Bridge AB-621
- Easyford Park
- South of the Entwistle Esso station and west around the rodeo grounds on RR 74A
- Pembina River Provincial Park at Entwistle
What to take
A sturdy tube for each person: you want something that will last for the trip because doubling up sucks. Have a plan for inflating your floatie of choice when you get to your destination. Hint: cupholders are definitely useful.
Water and snacks: you can use a small tube tied to yours to float a cooler along. Tempting as it is to crack a cold one on this adventure, tubing and alcohol do not mix, so please hydrate responsibly. Drinking river water is definitely not recommended, so bring more water than you think—tubing is thirsty work! Also, no glass bottles.
Sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses and hat: You will be in direct sun for hours. This is no time to skimp on the ‘screen. Lather up! Bonus points if your sunnies float.
Sturdy sandals or water shoes: Getting in and out of the river usually involves a short hike along a trail that could be muddy or scrambling up a slippery embankment, so choose footwear wisely. Chances are your flip flops won’t stay on your feet in the water anyway.
A waterproof bag to stash essentials: think phone and car keys.
Rope or tube ties to tie tubes together, especially if you’re floating with young kids.
Two vehicles: This is obvious, but you need one vehicle to park at your getting out point (pay close attention to what the surroundings look like so you don’t miss your exit later on), and another to get to your departure spot.
Check the river conditions before you go! The Pembina river is quite safe—that’s a big reason why it’s such a popular spot for river floating. But it can go from calm to wild after a big rainstorm. Nobody wants to be dodging giant trees and debris on a tube or be trapped in a too swift current.
Choose a good quality tube and wear a lifejacket.
Don’t go alone, and make sure someone else knows where you’re going and when to expect you back.