8 Paddle Boarding Destinations in North America ( Plus Board Advice)
Exploring seas, lakes, and rivers by stand-up paddle boarding provides access to places you can’t reach by car or on foot. However, searching for “paddle boarding near me” on Google can be intimidating, especially for beginner paddle boarders.
In this article, we’ll go through expert tips and tricks so you can find the perfect spot for your next paddling adventure.
What Is Paddle Boarding?
Paddle boarding is a water activity in many US vacation spots. When paddle boarding, you are on top of a surfboard-like buoyant board. You either use your arms or a paddle to propel through the water.
Although there are different ways you can enjoy paddle boarding, stand-up paddle boarding, or SUP, is the most popular, raking in over 3 million stand-up paddlers in 2021 alone.
From scenic mountain views to crystal clear waters, these long-distance stand-up paddleboarding destinations in the US and Canada promise epic adventures and unique perspectives only SUP can offer.
Don’t forget to pack snacks because the paddling area of these locations is expansive and you’ll need some food to refuel.
Deep Cove, Vancouver
Deep Cove is just a short 30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver, yet its majestic mountain views will surprise you, along with pristine and calm waters, and a spectacular coastline.
On a sunny weekend, you can sail from Panorama Park or launch from the public dock. Experienced paddlers can even set forth to Raccoon Island in the Indian Arm during low tide or when the water is calm.
Don’t have a stand-up paddleboard? Visitors can rent a SUP for the day at Deep Cove Kayak.
Lake Tahoe, California
One whole day of paddling is not enough to explore this beautiful California lake.
Lake Tahoe is the biggest alpine lake in the US, measuring 22 miles long. Luckily, there are several launch points for paddlers. This includes Lakeview Common, Camp Richardson, and Kiva Beach.
There are also rental stores such as Kayak Tahoe, Action Water Sports, South Tahoe SUP, and Tahoe City Kayak, so you can start paddling away and not spend hours on Google searching for “paddle boards near me.”
Grand Teton Nation Park, Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park is another ideal spot for stand-up paddleboarding. There are two spots you can paddle here: String Lake and Leigh Lake.
The waters of String Lake are calm, shallow, and crystal clear, providing a fun ad safe environment for all levels of experience. There are also campgrounds and picnic areas with picnic tables along the lakeshore.
From String Lake, you can paddle for a short portage to Leigh Lake for another adventure. Leigh Lake offers easy access and an enormous area to explore.
Be sure to plan your trip ahead of time since parking is limited.
Provo River, Utah
Seasoned pro paddlers will enjoy an exhilarating adventure in Provo River, Utah.
You can paddle down the small rapids and ever-changing scenery that make up the lower section of the Provo River. The waters are shallow and have rocky riverbeds, so make sure you swap your rigid epoxy SUPs with an inflatable paddle board.
You can easily launch from the boat ramp below Deer Creek Dam and exit the water at Vivian Park. Park City SUP offers guided tours for those nervous about firsts river paddling.
Whether you are going for fishing or simply a paddling adventure in Provo River, don’t forget to carry your SUP leash and life jacket as a safety precaution.
Hood River, Oregon
Hood River is famous for its excellent windsurfing conditions, quaint downtown, campsites, and hikes. It’s beautiful in all seasons, but summer and early fall are the best times to enjoy all the outdoor activities Hood River offers.
If kitesurfing isn’t your thing, and you are looking for the best places to paddleboard nearby, don’t worry.
There are parts of the Hood River that are peaceful enough to paddleboard and even go for a little swim. There is even a dedicated dock for you to launch from easily.
Lake Powell, Utah
The best paddle boarding near me locations wouldn’t be complete without Utah’s Lake Powell.
You may have seen photos of its fantastic red rock cliffs and beautiful crystal-clear warm water, but nothing beats experiencing it in person. Plus, it has over 94 major canyons and 150 miles of water to explore!
The best way to access Lake Powell is to rent a boat and explore for a week. Alternatively, you can visit Rock Canyon and Antelope Canyon for leisure paddling.
Colorado River, Arizona
The Colorado River is a great paddling spot if you want to enjoy picturesque sandstone canyon scenery without having to be wary of water rapids.
The best time to paddle on the Colorado River is during winter (December to February) or spring (March to May). The climate is the most temperate during these times, the desert is in bloom, and you are best able to enjoy all of Arizona’s outdoor activities.
Moose Pond, Maine
Moose Pond is a great place to explore by paddleboard, popular with fishermen, campers, and wildlife spotters.
The pond has some of the most beautiful islands in the northern end, such as Sabatis and Oblong Island. Plus, there are plenty of campsites along its docks and pine shores.
The waterway in Moose Pond contains several miles of board paddling and hiking trails. Much of the pond is scenic and remote, offering you a greater chance of meeting some of Maine’s popular residents, such as deer and moose.
Northeast Whitewater Lodge & Guide Service provides stand-up paddleboarding rentals, tours, and lessons.
How To Find Paddle Boarding Places
If the top places mentioned above are too far from your home, don’t lose hope for nearby paddleboarding just yet! You can discover the best and nearest paddleboarding spots with these free methods:
1. Visit Your State’s Department of Natural Resources Website
If you want to know the popular paddling spots near you, as well as paddling fees and permitted watercraft, you should visit your state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website.
DNR websites have all the resources you need to know including boat launches, fees, facilities like available restrooms, and even water trails. For instance, Michigan’s DNR website lists 1,300 boating access sites, state parks, and state forest campgrounds.
Aside from SUP, DNR websites have the latest details regarding other water activities like kayaking.
2. Check Online Paddle Boarding Communities
Another way to find the best paddle boarding near me locations is to check paddle boarding communities. Sites like Facebook and Reddit offer many local-specific paddle-oriented groups where you can meet new paddlers.
For instance, the subreddit r/SUP has 23,000 members that share their paddling trips and favorite paddling spots.
Alternatively, you can type “Paddling Clubs in [your city, your state]” into a search bar to get the most up-to-date information.
3. Download a Paddling App
Downloading a paddling app like Go Paddling is also one of the easiest ways to find the best places to paddleboard near me.
Available on iOS and Android, Go Paddling has over 25,000 SUP locations that you can discover in just a few taps. You even check the location’s most updated regulations and available facilities within the app.
Paddling apps are not only for finding your next paddling adventure. Apps like Paddle Logger allow you to digitally track water routes and distance traveled.
How to Pick Stand-up Paddle Boards
Stand-up paddle boards come in different sizes and shapes and have various purposes. Here are the five types of stand-up paddle boards you can use to cruise the sea or river while wearing a life vest (a safety measure we recommend).
1. All Around Paddle Boards
Beginner and leisure paddlers use an all-around paddle board to strike the perfect balance between stability and speed efficiency.
You can tell an all-around paddle board apart from other types of SUP boards just by looking at its rounded nose or planing hull. It also has a little rocker so that the nose will push the water down, allowing you to handle small waves. Another distinct feature is its wide deck, which adds more stability and maneuverability.
These features, however, also mean that the board will create more drag on the water.
2. Touring Paddle Boards
On the other hand, a touring paddle board is for speed and long distances.
It features a pointed nose and a narrow, streamlined deck, allowing it to easily push the water on either side and keep the board track straight.
However, as expected, touring paddle boards are more challenging to keep stable. That can be a problem for a beginner paddler, but if you are an intermediate paddler wanting to cover more area in less time and effort, a touring paddle board is hard to beat.
3. Racing Paddle Boards
Racing paddle boards are the narrowest of all stand-up paddle boards. They are usually 25″to 29″ at their widest point, allowing them to travel much faster than a touring board.
These boards aren’t suitable for beginner riders since they tend to be less stable and sway more from side to side. This makes them difficult to stand on unless you are paddling fast. However, an experienced paddler can easily cut through the surf and move more quickly in a reasonably quiet lake.
4. Surf Paddle Boards
Unlike a touring or racing paddleboard, surf paddle boards are shorter. They are typically between 7’ to 10′ in length, and have a flat underside for balance and maneuverability, especially when riding waves.
Surf paddle boards have four fin configurations: single, twin, 2+1, and quad. The 2+1 or thruster is the most common setup because it provides added maneuverability and stability on rough waters.
5. Crossover Paddle Boards
A crossover SUP board marries the strong suits of all-around surf and touring paddle boards.
The board is typically 10′ to 12′ in size but has a generous width, allowing sufficient stability and maneuverability with light surf performance.
Depending on the model and brand, a crossover SUP board typically combines the aesthetic appeal of natural wood layers with the lightweight durability of holp-up glass layers.
Just like finding places for kayaking, searching for “paddle boarding near me” on the internet can be an overwhelming and confusing process. Hopefully, our in-depth guide on how to find the best places for paddleboarding has helped you narrow down your choices.
This post originally appeared on Savoteur.