What’s SUP, Crested Butte? Stand Up Paddleboarding


Stand Up Paddleboarding, Crested Butte style  

Stand Up Paddleboarding, or SUP for short is arguably one of the fastest growing sports in the nation. Even in our landlocked state of Colorado and in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the sport is taking the area by storm. It is a great core workout focusing on balance, strength, and ailment. Since you are standing up in full view, you can enjoy those Crested Butte vistas while getting a good workout.

With a minimum amount of equipment, you could be paddling our rivers or lakes. To stand up paddleboard in Crested Butte there are a few options of where you could paddle. But first, let us talk about the gear.


Lake Irwin SUP

You need just a few key pieces of equipment to enjoy this sport. There are a couple of different places to rent boards in town. CB SUP can get you squared away.

  • Stand up paddleboard: Sizes are based on the paddler’s weight and experience. Novice paddlers should choose wider, flatter boards, which offer more stability.
  • Paddle: Stand up paddles have an angle or “elbow” in the shaft for maximum efficiency. Choose a paddle that’s roughly 6” to 8” taller than you are (though some manufacturers recommend an 8” to 10” differential).
  • PFD (Personal Flotation Device): The U.S. Coast Guard classifies stand up paddleboards as vessels, so always wear a PFD whenever you’re paddling navigable water.
  • Proper clothing: Here in the summer when conditions are milder, wear shorts and a T-shirt or bathing suit—something that moves with you and can get wet.
  • Sun protection: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses with croakies.

Lake Irwin Standup Paddle Boarding


Once you have your gear settled, head up to Lake Irwin or Long Lake for some practice. Lake Irwin would most likely be your easiest bet for park and play capabilities.

Here are a few tips on technique to get you started.

Mounting the Paddleboard: When you’re a beginner, it’s easier to kneel on the board rather than to stand directly upright.

  1. Standing alongside the board, place your paddle across the deck of the board and use it as an outrigger.
  2. Hold the board by the rails. One hand will also be holding the paddle grip.
  3. Pop yourself onto the board into a kneeling position, just behind the center point of the board.
  4. From that kneeling position, get a feel for the balance point of the board. The nose shouldn’t pop up out of the water and the tail shouldn’t dig in.
  5. Keep your hands on either side of the board to stabilize it.
  6. Once you’re ready, stand up on the board one foot at a time. Place your feet where your knees were.

Paddleboarding Stance:

  1. Your feet should be parallel, about hip-width distance apart, centered between the board edges.
  2. Toes should be pointed forward, knees bent and your back straight.
  3. Use your hips as balance and shift your weight by moving your hips.

Paddleboarding Stroke: 

  1. If you’re paddling on the right, your right hand is lower and on the paddle shaft. Your top (left) hand is on the top of the grip. The elbow (angle) of the paddle faces away from you.
  2. Keep your arms straight and twist from your torso as you paddle. Think of using your core rather than your arms. Plus you will get a better workout this way.
  3. Push down on the paddle grip with your top hand.
  4. Plant the paddle by pushing the blade all the way under the surface, pull it back to your ankle, then out of the water. To go in a reasonably straight line, paddle about 4 or 5 strokes on one side, then switch to the other. When you switch sides, you’ll reverse hand positions.

Falling (’cause you know it’s going to happen):

  1. Try to avoid falling on your board and try falling to the side into the water. This will minimize injuries.
  2. If you let go of your paddle, go to your board first then retrieve your paddle.

Standup Paddle Boarding Crested Butte

When you have conquered the flat waters, head on out to the Slate River. There is a section just outside of town by the pump track off Teocalli that you could paddle. You would enjoy the stretch of waters that winds through McCormick Ranch, River Green and Skyland subdivisions. The takeout would be at the new recreational path and bridge in Skyland, just at Brushcreek Road and Highway 135. Don’t forget to leave a separate car at the take out.

Have fun!

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