The first time I took a stand up paddleboard down the Yampa River I made a few instant realizations.
First, this SUP thing is much easier to learn than it looks. Unlike standing up on a surfboard—which for me required hours of practice in hot sun, icy cold water, and relentless, pounding surf—standing up on the paddleboard didn’t take more than one try, and shortly I was working my way across stream to play in the smaller waves hidden in the slack water behind boulders. This is because most stand-up paddleboards are wide and thick - meaning better stability and a smoother learning curve. That could be the reason behind the SUP craze here in Colorado.
Another thing I noticed right away: the views of the river while standing up on a paddleboard are much better than sitting down in a kayak or raft. Although I’ve floated the Yampa countless times, the new view I got while standing up on my way down the river made this float down the Yampa seem almost like my first time.
Finally, I wondered why somebody hadn’t thought of this before. It really took us until the 21st century for somebody to figure out that it might be fun to take a surfboard-like object and paddle it downstream? I’m not sure why it took us so long, but I am sure that there’s no going back now. Stand-up paddleboarding is here to stay and based on its rapid growth, it may soon be the most popular form of recreation on rivers across the West.
If you want to try stand-up paddleboarding for the first time, I highly recommend giving the pros a call. Steamboat Paddleboard Adventures and Bodhi SUP are both highly respected and professional paddleboarding operations based here in Steamboat that not only offer gear rentals, but a wide variety of classes and adventure trips for visitors and locals alike.
Steamboat Paddleboard Adventures has two locations, one in Steamboat Springs and another at the Clark Store north of town. Stop by on your way up to Steamboat or Pearl Lakes and pick up a board (or three) for you and the family and explore the stunning scenery the human-powered, stand-up way.