I’ve never surfed a day in my life despite the many vacations on the Jersey shore. So, maybe you’ll understand why I’m at a loss for words about the first time I saw a Stand Up Paddleboard in action. What was that contraption? And, why paddle a SUP when you can run rivers and cross lakes with canoes, kayaks, and rafts?
But then, I got a chance to take one for a spin, during Traveler’s float down the Colorado River through Canyonlands National Park last fall. The flat stretches of water made standing on a SUP fairly easy, and keeping my balance while dipping the paddle into the water was even easier.
Now, you’re not going to be able to haul as much gear on a paddleboard as you can in other boats, but there’s something to be said about silently working your way down river standing. Your perspective changes slightly since you’re high above the water. And, you can really get lost in your thoughts while mechanically paddling along, gazing across the water.
Last fall Colleen Miniuk-Sperry took her paddleboard to Lake Powell, in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, one of the many units of the National Park System where SUPing is allowed. Watch for her story in the weeks to come, or jump right into the digital guide to read it now.
To find other parks that allow the sport, check out our directory beginning on page 36. It also lists the best parks for canoeing, kayaking, and rafting.
And, inside, Special Projects Editor Patrick Cone’s writes about camping in Channel Islands National Park, off the coast of California. Santa Cruz Island proved to be a great basecamp for exploring the watery side of the park. And, dinosaurs, of all things, turn up in my story about our six-day float trip through Canyonland’s Cataract Canyon.
In our 3rd Annual Essential Guide to Paddling the Parks you’ll also find articles on the best rapids in the National Park System, great reads to take with you on the river or lake, and a rundown on our Wild and Scenic River System. By the time you reach the last page, we think you’ll agree there are some great paddling and floating experiences in our parks. ~ Kurt Repanshek
Traveler footnote: We'll be rolling these stories out on the Traveler through the months ahead, though you can also order a hard copy ($10.95) or digital version ($1.99) now and enjoy it at your leisure.