Milk River (AB) - Townsite to Writing on Stone PP II

The Milk River is an excellent early season paddle with both scenery, rattlesnakes and whitewater! It is typically done in 2+ days, however portions of it can be run as a day trip easily. Expect plenty of small rapids with a few more challenging class II+ rapids. At high water you can expect some large waves and easy class III rapids. It has been a number of years since I paddled this run however as I recall the run begins in the town of Milk River by meandering through farmland and gradually picks up speed. In my memory the scenery is best in the latter half of the run towards Writing on Stone Provincial Park. I would highly recommend a night at “Poverty Rock”, a scenic and fun campsite partway through the run that has been arranged between local paddling groups and a farmer. If you have never visited the Badlands or Writing on Stone Provincial Park this is a great way to really appreciate the geography and history of Alberta. It is well worth planning to spend some time at Writing on Stone exploring the hoodoos and pictographs. I have fond memories of playing in the hoodoos.

For more information you can see Mark's Guide for Alberta Paddlers and this guide, Milk River Canoe Map.pdf. Mark has kindly allowed me to use some information from his guide to supplement my knowledge of the Milk River.

River Alerts

If this space is blank there have been no alerts posted for this specific river.


The symbols can be clicked on and provide some simple explanations of why they are there. You can also use the symbols to get directions from Google Maps to the put in/takeout. A handy thing!

Run Information


There are a number of different options. Please refer to google maps for details. Most paddlers finish at Writing on Stone Provincial Park where there is camping available. Use HWY 4 to get to Milk River and then proceed east on HWY 501 and follow the signs.

Put In

There are a number of different put in options depending on how long you want the trip to be. Milk River is reached via HWY 3 (Crowsnest) → HWY 4 S. From Milk River you can access all the different put in options.


Spring Alberta paddling at its best!

Length & Time

The length of your run can vary greatly depending on how far you want to go. Here are some distances:

Milk River Townsite to Gold Spring Park: 16km
Gold Spring Park to Coffin Bridge: 20km
Coffin Bridge to Poverty Rock: 14km
Poverty Rock to Writing on Stone PP: 20km

Total Distance: 70km



Flow Information

Milk River is notorious for drying up come summer time so this is definitely one you want to get on early. It is usually best in May and June. Ideally you want more than 15cms of flow for a good experience. Above 50cms it is starting to get higher, it is not unheard of it to flow over 200cms in spring floods.



Other Resources

River Alerts

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