The main line of this river and canal system is 54.4 km (34 mi) in length and starts in Leeds, ending at Goole Docks. The Wakefield Branch joins at Castleford Junction and is 12 km (7.5 mi) long with four locks. Much of the Wakefield branch and the Leeds to Castleford section is now used primarily for leisure purposes, while the lower reaches are still used for commercial traffic.
The navigation authority is the Canal and River Trust and the Navigation forms part of the North Pennine Ring and the (as yet incomplete) Yorkshire Ring. Fishing along the canal is managed by the Boothferry, Aire and Calder Joint Canal Committee and day tickets are available locally – there are some facilities for wheelchair users. Walking and cycling along the towpath are also popular and a number of longer routes incorporate stretches of the canalised river.