WHAT’S SUP? Try Stand Up Paddleboarding This Summer
By Trent Hickman
Stand up paddleboarding, or SUP as it’s commonly known, combines the fun of being on the water in the sunshine with the health benefits of exercise.
Stand up paddleboarding is great for improving balance and strength and has something to offer every personality. Choose your own adventure: take a slow, relaxing paddle on a glassy lake or get your adrenaline pumping by riding whitewater down a river.
Fitness fanatics will love the balance challenge of SUP yoga or fitness classes. Or you can use a stand up paddleboard for endurance distance racing, paddling with your dog, and even fly-fishing.
RULES FOR NEWBIES
First things first. If just learning to SUP, start with a lesson from a reputable guide or go with an experienced friend. Learning the basics of paddling isn’t hard, but if your first time on water involves being blown across the lake on a board that’s too small or hard to balance, you’re probably not going to be excited to return.
For your safety, stay close to the shoreline and use a leash while paddling lakes and reservoirs as it lessens the chance of being hit by a boat or getting caught in high winds and getting separated from your board. The views are better close to shore anyhow.
Best safety practices on rivers are different than on flatwater. First, make sure you’re ready for the challenges of the river as there is no pause button. Second, get a helmet and leash that releases easily if it gets hung up on a tree or rocks.
WHERE TO SUP
For advanced and new paddlers alike, here are five great places to SUP in Utah this summer:
1. Pebble Beach at Deer Valley Resort — No boats, no waves, and no strong currents make this spot ideal for beginners. With a nice grassy area to stage from and an easy sandy beach transition into the water, your experience here is sure to be a good one. The Deer Valley Grocery~Cafe even has outdoor dining overlooking the water. Park City SUP offers lessons, rentals, sales, yoga, and fitness classes here. Come try stand up paddleboarding here before going out and purchasing your first stand up paddleboard. Just bring your swimsuit!
2. Jordanelle State Park near Park City — Just 10 minutes from Historic Main Street in Park City, this high alpine mountain reservoir offers amazing views and beautiful wildlife. Early morning and late afternoons are generally the best times of day to paddle, as winds are usually calmer. Experienced SUPers can take on a long distance paddle to where the Upper Provo River feeds the reservoir. Paddle Pedal Paddle and Park City SUP Festival take place here and Park City SUP offers lessons.
3. Sand Hollow State Park near St. George — An exceptional option for spring and fall months, the clear, warm waters and surrounding red rock formations make this spot ideal after cools off, longer than northern Utah. Get a rental from local outfitter Dig Paddle Sports.
4. Provo River — As your skill set increases, try river paddling here. The Provo River is relatively calm and has exceptional clarity. The best place to start is just below the Deer Creek Dam. You’ll paddle down Provo Canyon past large pine trees and towering mountains before reaching a train bridge around the Wildwood area that divides the river into three channels with the bridge support posts. It’s safest to pull your board out here and walk around as boards can get hung up on the posts, which can be dangerous. Then get back on the water and paddle to the take-out at Vivian Park, about an hour downstream. Park City SUP offers guided trips down the Provo and Weber rivers.
5. Colorado River in Moab — Stand up paddleboarding down the Colorado River around Moab should be on every paddler’s bucket list. Sections of this river are so calm that if the wind is blowing upstream you will almost come to a standstill. The towering red rock walls and surrounding beauty are simply stunning. Paddle Moab is an excellent guide service that offers information, shuttles up river, and guided tours. Some sections have serious whitewater, so check with a local pro before your first float.
Prefer practicing vinyasas to paddling around a lake? Lucky for you, options for SUP yoga in Utah are growing. Try outdoor classes at Deer Valley during summer months, indoor classes at the Park City Aquatic Center year-round, classes inside the crater at Midway’s Homestead Resort, or book a tour on local lakes that include paddling and anchoring the boards before practicing SUP Yoga and paddling back to shore.
Trent Hickman is the founder of Park City SUP and an International Sports Science Association-certified personal trainer and a WPA class II-certified Stand Up Paddle instructor. He’s passionate about SUP racing and loves sharing the connection to health, fun, and water that SUP provides.