Whirlpool River (AB) - Upper Section IV

A one hour hike in with one class IV drop, and a bunch of class II-III rapids with many fun play holes and wave trains. A bit of a pool-drop character with many sections similar to the lower sections of the Whirlpool.

The crux rapid is Boulder Drop(IV) located near the start of the run, it is not boat scoutable but good eddies are available on the right and left sides immediately above the drop. ~1km after the put-in the river splits into 2 channels around a gravel bar forming a short grade III rapid on either side. The channels feed back together into a 50m calm section before the horizon line of Boulder Drop. Be aware that it comes up pretty quick if you aren't familiar with the river. This drop is the result of the river being forced between a couple of large boulders, there are a couple of pressure waves and a few holes, pick your preferred line as there are several obvious options for nice clean lines.

After Boulder Drop everything is grade II with 2 interspersed grade III rapids(The first runs along a river left cliff, the second is a wave train in a right bend of the river). It is all boat scoutable with lots of one-shot waves, holes, and eddie lines to play in. The end of the upper section is immediately below the second class III rapid after Boulder Drop. Look for a trail and small beach on the river left bank, or continue downstream to the take-out at the S-Bend.

River Alerts

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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


Take out is the put in for the 'Corral to S-Bend' section of the Whirlpool:

From Jasper head South on Hwy 93 for 6.7Km, after passing through the park gate turn right(West) onto Hwy 93A. Follow for 15Km to Moab Lake Rd located just before the bridge over the Whirlpool river. Turn right(West) and follow Moab Lake Rd. for 6.3km until you reach a corral on the left and a clearing on the right. Park at the clearing. The river is a ~500m hike along the well defined path found across the road from the clearing just past the corral.

Put In

Drive 500m from the corral to the end of the Moab Lake Rd. Hike your boat ~2Km along the Moab Lake fire road. When the road comes back and meets the river look for a path on your left. Put in anywhere along this section.


Glacial fed pool drop, low volume run with a bit of a hike to warm up.

Length & Time

3.5km, Half_Day



Flow Information

Typically flows from May until September depending on snow melt and glacial runoff. Water level assessment is the same as the other sections of the Whirlpool and this run is fun at most flows. Assess flow at the take out:

High Flow: very little beach, no island, no eddy.

Medium Flow: little beach, no island, eddy present where the island would be.

Low Flow: enough beach to set a boat on, large eddy behind the visible rock island.


No Gauge


Boulder Drop on the Upper Whirlpool. The resolution is poor and the camera isn't at all steady so feel free to replace this video if you have a better one.:

Other Resources

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River Alerts

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