11 Best River Floats in Ontario for Lazy Summer Days

Let the current do the work on these tranquil waterways.

Cool off this summer with a relaxing float down a river in Ontario. Whether you are looking to drift gently in the warm sunshine or embark on a fun family float, you’ll find loads of lazy rivers in Ontario that are perfect for mellow rafting, tubing, kayaking and canoeing.

River floating in Ontario is all about enjoying the clear, refreshing water while surrounded by peaceful and pristine nature. Slow-moving rivers in Ontario invite paddlers to drift alongside the turtles, fish, birds and other creatures that make their homes along these wildlife-filled waterways.

Read on to discover the best lazy rivers in Ontario, and get ready to go with the flow.

Kaministiquia River

Flowing from spectacular Kakabeka Falls down to Lake Superior at Thunder Bay, the Kaministiquia River—or “Kam,” for short—makes for a tranquil two- to three-hour float through the lush boreal forest of Northern Ontario. River Rat Rentals provides tubes and transportation for an easy, hassle-free tubing adventure just west of Thunder Bay.

Location: Kakabeka Falls

Where to Stay: Pitch your tent beside the second-highest waterfall in Ontario at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park.

Atikokan River

Float a leg of the Trans Canada Trail right in the heart of Atikokan. This friendly little town is known as the “Canoeing Capital of Canada” and is a gateway to the iconic wilderness of Quetico Provincial Park. You don’t even have to leave town for a lazy day on the water. Put in at Little Falls Scenic Lookout and picnic area. When you’re ready to tear yourself away from this beautiful waterfall, let the current pull you downriver. You’ll drift under Highway 622 and enter a series of wooded meanders. Several road crossings allow you to pick the length of your float. Take out at Mercury Avenue for a short trip, or anywhere in downtown for a longer excursion. Canoe Canada Outfitters rents canoes and can assist with shuttles if needed.

Location: Atikokan

Where to Stay: Located within easy walking distance of Little Falls, Bunnell Park Campground has tent and trailer sites with direct access to the Atikokan River.

woman and dog paddle in a canoe on the Magpie River
Maple and @judkez on the Magpie. Photo: Callie Paddock // @callieepaddock

Magpie River

The Magpie River is a wild and little-known float trip located just north of Wawa, off the Trans-Canada Highway. You’ll encounter a few easy rapids and sections of swift water along the 15-kilometre run from Steephill Dam to Highway 17. Aside from the crystal clear, steadily flowing waters, the Magpie also boasts jaw-dropping scenery featuring high rolling sand hills reminiscent of the Canadian barrenlands. In August, pull up just about anywhere on the riverbank for amazing blueberry picking. Shuttles, route information and canoe, kayak and paddleboard rentals are available from Naturally Superior Adventures.

Location: Wawa

Where to Stay: Rock Island Lodge occupies a spectacular perch on the rugged shore of Lake Superior just minutes from Wawa. Choose from comfortable rooms or beachfront glamping and camping.

Rushing River

Three parts lazy river and one part whitewater thrills, the scenic Rushing River twists and tumbles across the Canadian Shield and pine forest of Northwestern Ontario. An inflatable or otherwise lightweight and easy-to-carry ride is essential for this float—along with a life jacket and sturdy water shoes—since you’ll need to walk around a set of rocky rapids partway through.

Begin your adventure at Rushing River Provincial Park on the Lower Rapids Trail just below Highway 71. Slip into the river below the falls and enjoy a gentle half-mile float before encountering a second set of rapids. Do not attempt to float these! Exit the river a safe distance above the rapids and follow the portage trail downriver (about 250 metres). From here, it’s a short float to Camp Waterfall, a charming family resort centred on a lovely—and usually runnable—whitewater chute. Resort guests can take out here, or continue floating downriver to Tyc’s Blindfold Lake Resort and the open waters of its namesake lake.

Location: Kenora

Where to Stay: Camp at Rushing River Provincial Park or rent a waterfront cabin at Camp Waterfall or Blindfold Lake Resort.

two kayakers paddle down the Goulais River
Find solace and beauty in equal parts on the Goulais River. Photo: Aimée Leclair // @ecotherapy7

Goulais River

The wild and scenic Goulais River cuts through the dense forests of the Canadian Shield north of Sault Ste. Marie as it flows towards Lake Superior. The Lower Goulais offers options for whitewater excitement or a relaxing float. During high water conditions, intermediate paddlers love the class I-II rapids between the village of Searchmont and Kirby’s Corner, where the river crosses Highway 552 east of the Trans-Canada Highway. The river becomes more mellow at Kirby’s Corner, making the run from Highway 552 to Highway 17 an easy float trip that’s suitable all summer long. Canoe rentals, shuttle and route suggestions are available through the riverside Mountainview Lodge on Highway 556.

Location: Searchmont

Where to Stay: Mountainview Lodge offers riverside camping, log cabin rooms and a charming glamping caboose for railroad buffs. For a private forest chalet complete with Finnish sauna, check out Bellevue Valley Lodge.

Grassy River

The highlight of this lovely float just outside Timmins is High Falls, a cascading series of swirling rapids and waterfalls with a total drop of 40 metres. Begin your float just below the lower falls; before launching, take the short trail upriver to view the upper cataracts. From the falls, paddle and drift 12 kilometres down the meandering and, at times, swift-flowing river to a take-out at Dalton Road bridge for an easy and scenic half-day adventure. For a full day on the water, continue on to the Grassy River’s confluence with the Mattagami River and paddle right into the city. Timmins Adventure Tours rents paddleboards, canoes and kayaks; self-guided floats down the Grassy River include a shuttle to High Falls.

Location: Timmins

Where to Stay: Reserve a glamping stay with WildExodus; their award-winning packages can include transportation and equipment for self-guided floats on the Grassy or nearby Tatachikapika rivers.

Vermilion River

Enjoy a fun and relaxing day of floating just northwest of Sudbury on the Vermilion River. This slow float can take a couple of hours or an entire afternoon, depending on how much swimming and exploring you decide to do along the way. The Vermilion is a beautiful winding river with clear, shallow water and over a dozen sandy riverbend beaches. Local outfitter Chillin’ N Tubing offers downriver tubing adventures complete with shuttle to the start of your float. Choose from a range of cushy rides for swimmers of all ages and sizes. They even have special cooler tubes, so you can keep snacks and drinks cold while you’re chillaxing. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and life jackets (they’re mandatory).

Location: Chelmsford

Where to Stay: Choose from a wide variety of places to stay in Sudbury.

a canoeist tows a person on an inflatable tube down Ontario's Saugeen River
Go it with friends on the Saugeen River. Photo: Chloe Lukas // @chloelukasphotography

Saugeen River

Originating in the highlands of Hanover, the Saugeen River flows 102 kilometres through rolling, scenic countryside to Lake Huron at Southampton. Ranging from placid sections to stretches with easy rapids, the friendly Saugeen is ideal for lazy summer float trips with friends and family. Near Hanover, Saugeen Springs R.V. Park offers tube and kayak rental packages for campers and day users; choose from a 45-minute float or a two-hour run. Overnight guests at Saugeen Riverbank Campground can put in at Maple Hill Dam for a 2.5-hour drift back to their campsite, or continue downriver to Lobies Park in Walkerton. The campground has kayak and single or double tube rentals with a free shuttle service for guests.

Location: Hanover

Where to Stay: There’s something for every style of camper at Saugeen Riverbank Campground, including campsites, cabins, a traditional Mongolian yurt, and luxury geodesic domes with hot tub and sauna.

South River

The east end of Lake Nipissing is home to a couple of peaceful and under-the-radar river floats. Right in North Bay, the historic La Vase River offers two kilometres of gently flowing waters. For a longer afternoon float, try the South River near Callander. Flowing into the head of South Bay, this calm river threads its way through a mix of serene Northern Ontario scenery, including small farms and untouched forest. Put in at South River Resort (ask here for help arranging a shuttle) and paddle a short distance upstream to pretty Chapman’s Chute for rock ledge swimming before beginning your downriver float.

Location: North Bay

Where to Stay: Family-friendly South River Resort occupies a leafy peninsula with the river on one side and Beatty Creek on the other.

Beaver River

Winding beneath lush bottomland forest canopy and through open countryside with views of the Niagara Escarpment, the Beaver River is a popular and peaceful lazy river in Grey County. Four access points make it easy to plan trips from a couple hours to a full day. Put in at Access Point #1 near Kimberley and enjoy a leisurely half-day float to the second access point on Sideroad 19. Allow a full day for the downriver drift to Heathcote. Local outfitter Free Spirit Tours offers shuttles, rentals and guided trips.

Location: South Georgian Bay

Where to Stay: The Boho Beaver boasts two tranquil tiny cabins nestled on 80 acres of farmland adjacent to the Beaver River.

a wood-canvas canoe on the scenic Bonnechere River
There’s beauty around every bend of the Bonnechere. Photo: James Carr // @jamescarr.tpc

Bonnechere River

This Eastern Ontario gem offers an easy float trip ending at Bonnechere Provincial Park’s pretty campground and stunning sand beach on Round Lake. From Round Lake Road, follow Jack Chute Road to its end at a scenic rapids of the same name. Slip into the river below the rapids and let the gentle pull of the current carry you the three kilometres back to the campground. Highlights include exploring the Bonnechere’s meandering oxbows, which are habitat for a variety of creatures like turtles, fish, ducks and deer.

Location: Round Lake

Where to Stay: Three campgrounds at Bonnechere Provincial Park enjoy a spectacular natural setting with easy access to the river and lake.

About Virginia Marshall

Virginia Marshall is a freelance outdoor adventure writer, photographer and editor with roots in Muskoka and Lake Superior. Read her work in Adventure Kayak, Canoeroots, Rapid, Paddling Magazine and Backroad Mapbooks.

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