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a boy on a yellow tube and a woman holding a child wearing a blue life jacket in a green tube on the water surrounded by trees
TheRockies.Life Staff

A Lazy River For A Lazy Summer Day

The McLeod River offers a calm tubing experience, surrounded by the lush embrace of the boreal forest.

From beach volleyball to camping at Carson Pegasus Provincial Park, hiking the trail systems in town, to getting wet at the Rotary Park Outdoor Waterpark, there is so much to do in Whitecourt in the summer. 

But if you’re looking for something a little different, you don’t have to look far. Located just outside of Whitecourt is the McLeod River, a great spot for a day of lazy summer tubing.

Don’t worry; you won’t be barreling down rapids in a raft. McLeod River is as calm as they come, making for a great time on the water.

a blue labeled map with a fish in a tube
A map of McLeod River showing where the Put In and Take Out spots are, along with a tubing checklist | Woodlands County

If this sounds like the perfect summer day, head to the Woodlands County “Put In” along West Mountain Road just outside Whitecourt.

The day-use area is open daily from 6 AM to 11 PM and features parking and washroom facilities. Before you get on the water, Woodlands County suggests you have the following:

  • a tube
  • life jacket
  • drinking water
  • water shoes
  • ropes to tie tubes together
  • waterproof container for phones and first aid supplies
  • sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses
  • float plan
  • keys to your vehicle

float plan means having a vehicle at both ends of the river, a general timeline you share with friends and family in case of an emergency, and everything you need for a safe journey. 

Once you hit the water, the trip should take about 2.5 to four hours, depending on the water and weather conditions. On your journey down McLeod River, you will be surrounded by boreal forest.

You might even spot some wildlife along the water if you’re lucky. Various animals call the area around Whitecourt home. This includes moose, elk, mule deer, black bears, and white-tailed deer.

a man and his son tubing on mcleod river with forest in the background
Tubing on the McLeod River, located just south of Whitecourt | Travel Alberta

Your journey ends at the “Take Out” spot, about 5.5 kilometres from the Put In. This location can be accessed from Riverside Road.

Leaving a vehicle at both the Put In and Take Out is recommended for a successful trip unless you plan on trekking 5.5 kilometres back to your car, which we don’t recommend. 

McLeod River may be lazy, but it’s still dangerous. In 2021, the Whitecourt Fire Department responded to four water-based emergencies, which was higher than usual, according to Fire Chief Brian Wynn. 

“People are doing stuff, which is good, but you still have to do it safely and know what you’re doing,” Wynn told the Toronto Star

The Whitecourt RCMP also received frequent calls from tubers, often about someone who gets lost or can’t get to shore. 

“If you are unknowledgeable, then you should not be in the river. You should know where you are putting in and where you are getting out and the estimated time of how long it’s going to take,” said Chief Wynn.

Rivers may not look dangerous on the surface, but many rivers have undertows that can quickly pull you underneath. It’s important always to be aware of your surroundings and never tube alone. 

And always wear your lifejacket; calm waters fool people into thinking that a flotation device is for sissies! They aren’t. Wise outdoor enthusiasts always use them!



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