Astoria River (AB) - Upper Section IV-V

The Astoria will begin to take off in a continuous bed of boulders less than half a kilometer from the put-in. Depending on the flow, either there will be some bumpy sections or you will be wanting to space yourselves out as you begin to speed down a ribbon of white. Don't be too surprised if you can't find an eddy able to hold more than one kayak. If the water is high you will find yourself in an endless but manageable torrent of whitewater making lots of quick technical moves and hopefully keeping your kayak pointing downstream.

After about 5km, the river becomes even steeper and it is time to begin looking for a steep left sweeping turn that ends in a sharp right corner at the canyon entrance drop known as the Howler. You can get out on the left well above this section and walk down to the entrance of the canyon to scout. If the canyon entrance drop looks really nasty, this short but intense canyon will contain several very difficult lines including a river wide hole located just downstream of the entrance.

A bail out option is to head up the river left slope and portage the entire final canyon section. This option is not as bad as it looks and can be done in less than an hour although the mountain slope is fairly steep.

The run ends in a beautiful pool backed up by a small diversion dam perched on the edge of an unrunnable walled waterfall. Exit left and carry your boat down the dirt road and you will come to the main road (takeout) and bridge that crosses over the Astoria. If you haven't had enough you can put back in and run 3.5km more of the Astoria as it flattens out into grade II before joining with the Athabasca River Valley.

River Alerts

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Run Information


From Jasper head south on hwy 93 (icefields parkway) until you see a right turn for 93A (also the road to Marmot Basin ski hill). Park at the pullout next to the bridge over the Astoria river.

Put In

From the takeout continue down 93A until the mount Edith Cavel road giving summer tourist access to Mount Edith Cavell and the hanging Angel Glacier. About 1km before the main parking lot at the end of the road look for the Tonquin Valley trailhead and park your vehicle here.

Grab your paddling gear and follow a short stretch of the trail to the bridge that crosses Cavell Creek. You will only hear Cavell Creek as most of it now runs underneath a bed of large rocks which you will find useful to walk on. Head down the boulder bed and once the rocks lose their size and the creek reappears, move to the right shore and make your way through the bush until you encounter the calm meandering Astoria at the bottom of the valley.


Fast and continuous low volume creek with a hard final canyon.

Length & Time

12km, Half_Day


Flow Information

Best paddled in early summer when the river is enjoying good snow melt or rain. A best way to gauge the upper is to examine or paddle the easier lower Astoria.


Link or No Gauge


Other Resources

River Alerts

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