Tips for First Time SUP-ers in Summit County, Colorado

If you are working to rehab a torn ACL from ski season or you are recovering from a back injury, chances are you might not be ready to go out for a run just yet. We are all outdoor lovers here in Summit County, so we know it can be frustrating to be sidelined from your favorite sport.  We especially don’t want to be cooped up in the gym on a beautiful, sunny Colorado day. Well, we have just the thing for you to try… stand-up paddleboarding (SUP)! It is a huge fitness craze, and for good reason: SUPing is low-impact and a great combination of both strength and cardio. Not only that, but  it works all major muscle groups, including those all-important core stabilizers (moguls, here we come!). Bonus: you might just spot an osprey, eagle or a moose while you are paddling (#onlyincolorado).

Want to give stand-up paddleboarding a shot?  Here’s a few tips to get you started:

  1. Rent a board:  In the Summit County area, we are lucky to have many local shops, as well as the Frisco and Dillon Marinas, which rent paddleboards. Most local shops will rent a recreational-style hard or inflatable board. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but either style of board is a great option for beginners.  Be sure to rent in advance if you choose to rent from the marinas, as they frequently sell out on weekends. Make sure your board comes with a life jacket, paddle, leash and a pump (inflatable boards only).  Most shops will show you the paddling basics, so don’t be shy about asking!
  2. Choose your spot wisely:  Your first few times out on a SUP, you’ll want to pick a spot with calmer water.  It’s enough work to balance a paddleboard on the water, without waves and wake to contend with. If you go from the Dillon or Frisco Marina, it’s best to go early in the day, before the wind kicks up.  Try putting in at Giberson Bay in the Dillon Reservoir, North Pond in Silverthorne, or Maggie Pond in Breckenridge for a protected afternoon paddle.
  3.  Bring the right gear:  Clip your car keys and a water bottle onto your board with a carabiner, or use a small dry bag.  Most boards have attachment points or bungees for your gear. Make sure you use them! There is nothing worse than falling off your board and losing your wallet or keys. We might even know that from personal experience (#whoops #howembarrassing #hadtohitchhikehome).  Wear a swimsuit or quick-dry layers, because this IS a water sport and you will probably get a little wet.  Even though it might not look sexy like those bikini-clad paddlers in Hawaii, make sure you wearyour life jacket.  The water in Summit County is extremely cold, since it’s coming straight from mountain snowmelt. It will take your breath away if you fall in, so use your head and be prepared. Just like any workout, you’ll want to stay hydrated so drink your water and don’t forget your sunscreen! We love and use the SPF 50 lotion from Rocky Mountain Sunscreen.
  4.  Start slow:  The higher your center of balance gets above your board, the harder it is to balance.  When you first paddle out, start on your knees in the center of the board. That will help you to get used to the wobbly balance and will allow your core muscles to activate.  Once you are warmed up and feeling confident on your knees, work on standing up slowly. Use your paddle, like a tripod, for balance. Once you are up, adjust your feet so they are in a widestance at the center point of your board.  It’s ok to feel wobbly! Just be patient and keep practicing.
  5.  Use your core:  Take the work of paddling out of your arms and use your core, back and shoulder muscles to propel your paddle through the water.  You’ll thank us later!

Tried it and loved it?  Congrats!! SUPing is a fantastic workout AND it looks pretty cool too (Hello Instagram! #doitforthegram).  So, what’s your next steps? Work on your paddling technique, try river boarding on the Colorado River with a guide or sign up for a paddleboard yoga class.  Just keep getting out there and #kickaxis!

Local SUP Resources:

Stand Up Paddle Colorado – Rents boards at the Dillon Marina and guides tripson the Colorado River

Kodi Rafting – Rents boards in Frisco and guides trips on the Colorado River

Frisco Marina – Rents boards from the Frisco Marina

Epic Mountain Gear – Rents and sells boards in Frisco

Alpine Sports – Rents and sells boards in Breckenridge

Wilderness Sports – Sells boards and gear in Dillon

Meta Yoga Studio – Teaches SUP Yoga classes, including board rental

Peak Yoga Studio – Teaches SUP Yoga classes, including board rental

One thought on “Tips for First Time SUP-ers in Summit County, Colorado”

  • When we first start paddling the natural temptation is to look down at the board, to watch the water lapping at the sides and to pray we aren t going to fall in! However for the best stability, you want to keep your head up, back straight and your body weight over your toes. It sounds silly but with your head down watching you re toes, you are likely to rock back on your heals and then hello water! Watch this video by Sam Ross about standing up on your SUP .

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