Always looking for new ways to enjoy the outdoors, Colorado paddlesport junkies have one more way to get down the river—standing up. Already popular on lakes and seashores, it didn’t take long for stand up paddleboarding (SUP) to find its way to whitewater.
“Paddleboards have such a shallow draft that you can get right up against the red sandstone walls of a canyon,” explained Jennifer Stewart, who has been SUP-ing rivers for the last two years. “You aren’t always actively paddling so it’s often silent—just you and the water.”
There are several factors that lend to the appeal of whitewater SUP-ing. Inflatable boards are easier to haul than rafts and they don’t require rounding up friends if you’re looking for a quick adventure that fits in the trunk of your car. For folks who haven’t perfected their roll, or don’t like the idea of being strapped upside down underwater in a boat, whitewater SUP-ing serves up all the thrills of kayaking with a slightly lower freak-out factor.
“When you fall off, you just end up in the water,” jokes Stewart. Her advice for beginners? “Kneepads. You spend a surprising amount of your time on your knees.”