Pembina River

When it comes to a wicked summer day in Alberta, there’s nothing we Albertans want more then to spend the day at the beach. Unfortunately, our province got the short end of the stick in that department. Nice beaches are few and far between, especially in the Edmonton area, and the ones we do have are jam packed with people all summer long. We did, however, make out with some great rivers of varying sizes, currents and rapids. And since we’re so close to the Rockies, the rivers run through some pretty breath taking natural areas.

So, what do you say to trading in your beach towel for a rubber dingy?

I’ve heard of tubing down the Pembina River (pem-buh-nuh … not pem-bee-nuh) for years from all sorts of people. And all I hear is how much fun people have. Especially from my sister, who goes at least once a year. This year my friend Jennie was telling me about it, and that was it. I had to try it.

Now let me just say, if you do anything in this world with shitty people that have shitty attitudes, then, if you let them get to you, you will have a shitty time. Be in control of your fun! You can’t always avoid these shitty people, so you’ll have your work cut out for you sometimes, but fun is always possible. And it’s contagious. You have my permission to splash them with your paddle on this particular trip. You can easily say it was an accident and you won’t end up with a criminal record like drowning them in the river would.

The best way I can describe this excursion is as the Ultimate Lazy River Ride! Here are some key things you’ll need to optimize your experience:

1) Rubber Dingy or floating device
You’ll want one that you can comfortably lay down in and that has a rubber inflated bottom. The river ride can be about 3 hrs long and the river is incredibly shallow in many areas. Unless you enjoy sharp rocks being rammed up your butt (no judging here if you do), you’ll want that nice cushion to ease the impact. If you’re going to share a floaty, make sure it’s plenty big enough for everyone to sprawl out in.

2) Sandals or water shoes
I used sandals as they were easy to take off and slip back on when loading and disembarking my vessel. I brought a pair that I wouldn’t care if I lost them and they floated away never to be seen again.

3) Sun screen, hat and sunglasses
Even if its overcast, those UV rays will still getcha. Plus, you’re on water, so they reflect back at ya giving you a double dose.

4) Drinks and munchies
If you desire beaver fever, then just drink the river water. Otherwise, bring water. I brought chips and cheesies in zip lock bags to keep them dry. Next time, I’ll also bring some pre made sandwiches to munch on. Alcohol is prohibited on the river as it is considered “drinking in public” by the local authorities, who I hear, are usually lingering around somewhere along the river. Plus the ride ends in a provincial park … Always cops around those places. So be smart … If you can’t figure it out you deserve to get caught. Plus … NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE!!! And don’t be the asshole that leaves their litter along the river. Be a good Scout and bring out whatever you take in.

5) Rope and paddle
To tie your vessels together so you don’t get separated and to help navigate yourselves around the really shallow parts, giant rocks and away from shore … Or into shore for lunch, pee breaks and at the end of the ride.

6) Floaty cooler
I thought this might be nice for next time so I’m not constantly shuffling everything in my dingy.

7) Air pump
Unless you wanna spend 45 min blowing your dingy up by mouth, all the power to you.

I wouldn’t recommend bringing really little children down the river. You’re floating slowly down the river in the hot sun … We adults find that relaxing and enjoyable … Toddlers and babies not so much. Older kids, however, would probably really love the journey a lot. There are plenty of fun little rapids and a little bit deeper areas where you can stop to swim.

If you going with a group of 3 or less, save gas and time by taking one vehicle and using the shuttle from Pembina River Tubing Ltd. For $9 each person (cash only) they will drive you and your dingy to the drop off point and pick you up at the end. They have a parking lot and all sorts of lifejackets and tubes available for rent as well. If your group is 4 or more, I’d take at least 2 vehicles down. Park one at the start and one at the end. The road to the start is rather rugged, so if you have a truck or SUV in your convoy park it at that end. Otherwise, drive really really slow with your Honda Civic. Warning, you’ll probably bottom out a couple times. And if you think your lost and entering a real life horror movie because you’re driving through a grave yard … Don’t worry, it’s not a bad omen. You’re going the right way. Hey, it’s rural Alberta, does this really surprise you?

For more info visit:

If you have any other recommendations to make someone’s river voyage more enjoyable, please leave a comment.

Now … Let’s get the adventure started!!!






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