Splash down in Lethbridge this summer
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A winding river, a lake and a pool make this a hot spot for fun in and on the water
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Home to cactus and rattlesnakes and a desert-like climate, (yes, right here in Alberta!) I was surprised to learn about all the fun you can have on the water in Lethbridge.
Attracting teams from across the province, the Dragon Boat Festival is one of Lethbridge’s top events.
We headed to Henderson Lake to watch the Dragon Boat Festival. Attracting teams from across the province, this popular sporting event has its competitive side, but it’s also a chance to build community spirit and make a lot of friends. While watching teams compete on the water is the main event, there's also a lot going on giving it a fun, festive vibe: food trucks, shopping, bouncy castles, a concert and a beer garden.
Right next to Henderson Lake is Henderson Pool, providing a welcome relief from the hot summer sun. We felt like kids again as we jumped off the diving board, slid down the waterslides, and tried climbing a rock-climbing wall, which is in the pool, providing a soft landing for that eventual fall. There's also a kid's park, a big pool, green areas for picnics, and smaller slides for the young ones. With clear blue skies overhead, this place was wildly popular and is definitely a great place to go with family or friends.
For those looking to go paddling without leaving the city, Henderson Lake is a great option.
After spending much of our day in the sun, we went back to the festival and took a much-needed break to enjoy an ice cream. As we sat under a tree cooling off, Daniel told us that we couldn't leave Lethbridge without a leisurely float down Oldman River. Snaking its way throughout the coulees and passing underneath the famous High Level Bridge, this is the highest and longest railway bridge in the world. This sounded like an incredible opportunity to experience Lethbridge like the locals. We rented some kayaks and paddleboards from Awesome Adventures Ltd., and drove down into the coulees to launch ourselves onto the river around Indian Battle Park. We calmly glided down the river, using the paddles only to keep ourselves centred. Every now and then, we'd turn ourselves around and paddle upstream just for the challenge, before doing a 180 and letting the river do the work for us.
As the river continued to push us downstream and under the trestle bridge, it seemed like we were far from the city as the cool breeze tussled our hair. We floated by some beavers and birds flew overhead. I was completely relaxed and without a care in the world. I felt I had the best of both worlds right here, a chance to take it easy and cool down on a hot day surrounded by the dramatic coulee landscape.
If You Go
Lethbridge is about a two-hour drive south of Calgary.
Check Tourism Lethbridge to start planning your trip and find other activities in the area.
Travel Alberta also has lots of great information about things to do and places to see in and around Lethbridge.
Matthew Bailey is a Canadian travel writer, photographer, and video host with MustDoCanada.com. Follow his travels on Instagram and Twitter @MatthewGBailey and @MustDoCanada.