7 Best Places to Paddleboard in Colorado
Colorado is one of the most beautiful places in the United States thanks to its majestic mountains, green valleys, and incredible bodies of water. The countless freshwater lakes offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy all your favorite watersports, including wakeboarding, skiing, tubing, and paddleboarding.
WakeScout has compiled this guide to Colorado paddleboarding (including stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP) to help you choose locations you are sure to love. These are the seven best places to paddleboard in Colorado due to their awe-inspiring beauty, accessibility, and overall atmosphere.
Can You SUP on Any Lake in Colorado?
While there are plenty of places to paddleboard in Colorado, you cannot simply put your board into any body of water you see. The Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife has placed restrictions on some bodies of water to keep visitors and paddleboarders safe. Some bodies of water are only accessible during certain times of the year, such as migratory waterfowl season.
In general, any body of water that allows for swimming and/or kayaking also allows SUP. If you are curious about a specific destination, you can check its official webpage for more information.
Do You Need a Permit to Paddleboard in Colorado?
Some of the best places to paddleboard in Colorado will require you to obtain a permit for that specific location. The funds collected through the purchase of permits help the state maintain and improve these destinations, and they are required for all visitors – not just those who plan to participate in watersports.
For example, Boulder Reservoir Regional Park is quite popular among beginning paddleboarders, but you’ll need a permit to get started. If you plan to visit an area requiring a permit, be sure to acquire it early. The beautiful scenery makes these destinations incredibly popular among tourists, and because the state issues only a set number of permits for any given day, they tend to go quickly. Permits are not required in all locations. Aside from specific destinations, you can paddleboard or SUP on any lake or river in the state without a permit.
Do You Need a Life Jacket on a Paddleboard in Colorado?
Colorado state law requires anyone paddleboarding anywhere in the state to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) such as a life jacket. A paddleboard is considered a vessel under the state law, and boating statutes require at least one PFD per person on each vessel.
While many of Colorado’s beautiful rivers appear calm, strong currents below the surface can surprise even the strongest swimmer. It is a good idea to wear a PFD any time you are in the water on a paddleboard or other similar craft. While it can help you avoid potential fines, it can also save your life.
Best Places to Paddleboard in Colorado
State parks are some of the best places to paddleboard in Colorado, but many require permits and passes that can be difficult to obtain on short notice. The seven destinations below are an eclectic mix of small resorts, privately-owned parks, and clubs situated in some of the state’s most beautiful landscapes.
Steamboat Lake Marina
Steamboat Lake Marina is the oldest family-owned and full-service marina in the state of Colorado. It is located in Clark on the stunning Steamboat Lake, which is about 40 minutes north of the town of Steamboat Springs. Aside from watersports, the marina offers pontoon and cabin rentals, which makes this an exciting place for a weekend getaway.
Steamboat Lake Marina offers 45 different non-motorized boats for rent, including a fleet of HALA SUPs in a range of sizes and styles. The marina reminds riders that early mornings and evenings offer a peaceful experience for beginners, while windy afternoons are best for experienced riders who want to be challenged. If you plan to rent your SUP, be sure to reserve it well ahead of time. Of course, you can always bring your own SUP if you prefer.
Imondi Wake Zone
Imondi Wake Zone is a family-owned and operated destination located in Fruita, Colorado. It is open daily during the summer months, and you can find the current water temperature on their website. There’s something at Imondi Wake Zone for everyone. The Aqua Park is a favorite among kids with its trampolines and slides, and a full-size Cable Park is perfect for paddleboarders who want to see Colorado from new heights. The Cable Park offers experiences for both beginners and experienced paddleboarders, and there’s even a Beginner Cable that is perfect for first-timers and kids.
Paddleboard Adventure Company
Paddleboard Adventure Company has three stunning locations in Colorado – Palisade, Pearl Lake, and Steamboat Springs. Stand-up paddleboarding is at the very heart of these destinations, but kayaking and canoeing are also available.
- Palisade: The Palisade location is a full-service paddleboard and river shop located on the Colorado River. Aside from traditional SUP rentals, the company is known for its hilariously fun SUPSquatch, which safely carries up to eight people. It’s a favorite for bachelor parties and other gatherings.
- Steamboat Springs: The Steamboat Springs location is Paddleboard Adventure Company’s headquarters. Here, the company offers two different sets of lessons. Flatwater lessons at Fetcher Pond are ideal for beginners, while Yampa River paddleboarding lessons are better for more experienced riders.
- Pearl Lake: The Pearl Lake location is a simple kiosk at the old boat ramp just southeast of Sand Mountain North. Board rentals are available, but Paddleboard Adventure Company recommends booking online in advance due to the popularity of the location.
Stand Up Paddle Colorado
You can find Stand Up Paddle Colorado at Dillon Marina, which is located on the breathtaking Lake Dillon. The company offers access to both the lake and the Colorado River. It’s one of the best places to paddleboard in Colorado if you prefer a structured experience. They offer the Family River Adventure, which is perfect for every age and experience level. You can choose a raft, SUP, duckie, or double duckie and explore the river in new ways.
They also offer a Self-Guided SUP experience that includes a rental SUP. It’s a three-hour session that is best for intermediate and experienced boarders due to the Class 2 rapids. You will need a certified PFD and a helmet to take on the challenge and Stand Up Paddle Colorado recommends sturdy shoes and a wetsuit. Finally, the Whitewater SUP Clinic is one of the best training sessions in the country for new boarders. The 2.5-hour session covers everything you need to know to get started, and by the end of the journey, you will tackle some Class 2 rapids on the Colorado River.
Western Slope SUP
If you are looking for an amazing adventure in the North Fork Valley, Western Slope SUP in Hotchkiss, Colorado, is the place to be. It offers some of the state’s most amazing views, and you can choose to venture out on your own or join a guided tour on a SUP, raft, kayak, or tube. All classes come with instruction and equipment, and Western Slope SUP focuses on helping you build confidence in your newfound skills.
The two-day Gunnison Gorge tour combines the thrill of SUP with ancient archaeology and canyon exploration, and it’s one of the best places to paddleboard in Colorado if you prefer a full itinerary. The three-day Ruby Horsethief exploration takes place in deep valleys between layered canyons, and the itinerary includes camping, hiking, and more. Either option is fantastic for beginners and kids, and everything you need is provided.
If you are looking for the best places to paddleboard in Colorado, you can’t go wrong with any of these popular destinations. Check out the full Colorado state directory at WakeScout to learn more about other destinations for paddleboarding, SUP, wakeboarding, skiing, wake surfing, and more, and be sure to book in advance for the best possible experience.
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Colorado is one of the most beautiful places in the United States thanks to its majestic mountains, green valleys, and incredible bodies of water. The countless freshwater lakes offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy all your favorite watersports, including wakeboarding, skiing, tubing, and paddleboarding. WakeScout has compiled this guide to Colorado paddleboarding (including stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP) to help you choose locations you are sure to love. These are the seven best places to paddlebo...