Stand up paddle boarding (SUP boarding) has become a favorite watersports activity in the last few years. SUP boarding has also made its way to the Telluride area.
While boards themselves can be expensive, rental rates are reasonable. Jagged Edge and Boot Doctors of Telluride both rent SUP boards daily.
The learning curve is not as steep as is with surfing, and many people can learn to SUP board in just a few hours. The idea is to kneel on the board, in the lower half of it and gaze out far ahead in front of one’s self. Looking straight down can make one wobbly, unstable. Once kneeling is mastered, one can move to standing. And, paddling gives mobility. The arms do the work. The legs are there to balance.
Paddling in the ocean can be tough, especially in rough water or with wind. On the other hand, paddling in the Telluride area can be a treat.
Trout Lake is just a short distance from town. With views of Sheep Mountain and high-altitude trees and wildlife, SUP boarding here is like floating in a pool of mountain paradise. Here, some SUP board yoga classes are offered.
Woods Lake is another option. Located just down valley from the town of Telluride and off of Fall Creek Road, it has camping and hiking options. This high-altitude lake is a summer favorite among locals and tourists. And serenity and quietude abound.
For those that are more adventurous, there are local rivers that can be SUP boarded, though spring and early summer might be a bit of challenge with rapids, debris, and high water.
Just past Placerville, 15 minutes south of Telluride, is a local pond, that many refer to as “the down valley pond.” Part of a community park, it is a nice place to learn to SUP board or for children to practice. Though small, it does include an island and a sandy beach.
One doesn’t have to go too far to experience other bodies of water in the region that are perfect for paddling around.
McPhee Reservoir is south of Telluride on Highway 145. Just over an hour away, it offers views of red rocks and the vastness of a large lake. Camping options exist here also, as well as at Ridgway State Park.
It’s important to remember that mountain lakes and ponds are colder than bodies of water in the Midwest or South. Wetsuits are sometimes helpful in regulating body temperature, though experienced SUP boarders don’t necessarily get wet or fall in.
The sun shines more frequently than not here in the Telluride area, and all SUP boarders should use sunblock or at least UV protective clothing. The water reflects the powerful rays at altitude, and special care should be given to the face and lips. Just a few hours of neglecting sun care can mean days of recovery at 9,000 feet.
For more information, or to try this emerging water sport, see your local outfitters in Telluride. It’s always a good time to try something new, and Telluride is the place for adventure.