Paddle Boarding in Utah

Yes, you can paddle board in land-locked Utah. And, yes, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is awesome.

Having taken my first surf lesson last fall, I’ve been dying to do it again. However, living in Utah means finding a substitute. I went to Jordanelle Reservoir to help satisfy my craving. While you can rent paddle boards to use on any water, Jordanelle is the only lake I found that rents them lakeside. (I was little nervous about hauling an 11-foot board on top of my car down the freeway.)

I debated taking a lesson, which is $40 for one hour, but after talking with a few people I was hopeful I could skip that part. If you’re new to paddling and not a strong swimmer, I recommend taking a lesson. While it is a fairly easy thing to pick up, you don’t want get out on the water and panic.

I learned that, like with most sports, the best thing was to just do it. Stand up and paddle and you will be surprised how easily it comes. The first time a boat sent a wave my direction, I wanted to shake my fists at them. The second time, I yelled out a woohoo.

Here’s a few things I learned my first time:

  1. If you’re short, take a tall person or bucket to get the board on and off your car. (We did have to haul the boards a few minutes to get to the boat ramp from the shop.)
  2. The best way to get over being wobbly is to simply stand up and start rowing.
  3. If you’re afraid you’re going to fall, then fall. I was nervous about falling (although I’m not sure why since I was two inches above the water) so I fake fell of the board and got it out of my system.
  4. When you fall, maneuver around so the current is at your back before you pull yourself on. It’s easier to get on than you think it is.
  5. Keep your feet planted just wider than hip-width. Check for the handle of the board and keep it between your feet (this should keep you centered front to back).
  6. When you want to turn, paddle on one side. If you’re not turning fast enough, stick an oar on the side you want to turn to and either hold it still or paddle a little backwards.
  7. If you stop to take pictures, enjoy the view, or flirt with the guy on the board next to you (it could happen), keep an eye on where you are. These boards drift quickly in the current and you don’t want to get ran over by a wakeboarder (he will win every time).
  8. And most importantly, invite me along if your only reason for not going is that you don’t have a buddy. Or, invite me along because I’m an awesome person. Either way.


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