Colorado Stand-up Paddleboarding 101

Get the lowdown on the state’s fastest-growing sport.

By Lisa Blake

Over the past few years, stand-up paddleboarding (or SUPing, for short) has gained more momentum than any other sport in Colorado. It’s an easy to grasp water activity—requiring only a board, a paddle, some balance and a body of water—with countless athletic and health benefits.

Here’s what you need to dip your feet into Colorado’s exciting world of SUPing.

Colorado Stand-up Paddleboarding 101

What to Know

Balancing on a hard or inflatable board takes leg strength and core stability. At some point, almost every muscle is used to maintain that balance and propel yourself forward or backward on the water.

Make sure your paddle is a couple feet taller than you and that you’re placing the full blade in the water on each stroke to get the most out of your efforts.

For the best shot at glassy, easy-to-navigate waters, paddle early in the morning or right before sunset. Colorado is famous for its afternoon summer storms and winds.

What to Bring

Always wear a life jacket and swimwear, a wet suit or rash guard. Some paddlers like the grip of water shoes or Chaco-type sandals. Others prefer to go barefoot. Try both and see what works best for you. Most boards have a couple of thin straps on the front or back to secure belongings. This is a great spot to tie a waterproof drybox containing your phone or camera, sunscreen, keys and sunglasses.

Colorado Stand-up Paddleboarding 101

Where to Go

Colorado’s rivers and lakes are prime for SUPing. For a laid-back float with some small rapids, hit the Upper Colorado River north of Wolcott.

Grand Lake is Colorado’s largest and deepest natural lake and sprawls out in a tranquil paddle oasis surrounded by Rocky Mountain peaks and wildlife. Nearby Granby is another fantastic option.

In Summit County, Lake Dillon provides postcard scenery, small islands to paddle to and around, eagle habitats to view and fun marinas and beaches to pull over and enjoy a frosty brew when you’re finished.

Whitewater enthusiasts will want to head to the Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park for more advanced play waves on the mighty Colorado River.

Near Denver, Big Soda Lake has several SUP rental companies and easy-access flat water, along with volleyball courts, a beach and picnic areas.

Head to Fort Collins’ Horsetooth Reservoir for secluded paddleboarding under red-rock foothills and bluebird skies.

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