Where to Get Your SUP on in Colorado

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So, I’ve had a Standup Paddle Board (SUP) for a few years now. Sadly, it’s been used maybe 5 times in the past 3 years? Partly because we only have one, and it’s not fun for 2 people if both don’t have a board. So, we bought a second one. I cannot WAIT to use it!! Sean finally agreed to the idea given he was able to fish off the board we currently have and really enjoyed it. We paddle on lakes and reservoirs only, not rivers unless they are lazy! 

How did we choose a SUP? There are so many brands out there to choose from – many people like NRS, however, the Life Bus is a huge fan of Hala Gear. Mostly because the brand is out of Steamboat Springs which is one of our favorite places in Colorado and we like to support local, small businesses. My requirements weren’t too crazy unusual – the Hala Hoss and the new Hala Rado ticked all the boxes:

  1. Big enough for me and a pup (turns out they are big enough for Sean, me AND a pup. The three of us paddled around Bear Lake in the Flat Tops Wilderness this summer.)
  2. Ability to pack a tent, sleeping bag, etc. for paddling across a lake to camp (I have yet to do this BTW – but it’s still on the list of things to do).
  3. Stability – not interested in a board that wants to tip over every time I move! Why am I fearful of falling in, it’s just water for gods sake!! 
  4. Inflatable – mostly for storage and the potential requirement to travel with it. 
Our Hala Hoss paddle-board with Pinky the van rental
Yogi wanted to poop his furry pants – he now has his own PFD so I can stand up and he won’t drown!

Now that we bought a second board, we need to figure out where we are going to paddle together! I thought I would do some research and use this forum as a way to capture ideas for us to refer back to and also share information with others.

I scoured a bunch of websites and whittled it down to the list below – it covers the entire state, btw and is not meant to be exhaustive by any stretch. The picks were based on lakes/reservoirs where there are no motorized boats allowed (or very little activity), amazing views, and good, clean water. I stuck to 10 options – anything more than that gets overwhelming to digest!

  1. Brainard Lake (near Nederland) – We hike and snowshoe up that way, but have never thought to paddle-board up there. I am sure the views are breathtaking!! Nederland is a cool, funky town too – great pizza, BBQ and coffee shops. Also close to Boulder, which is a super cool town.
  2. Evergreen Lake (near Evergreen) – I can confirm this is a great place to paddle-board. The town of Evergreen is close by and has a pretty cool vibe. Tons of great hiking and mountain biking in this area as well.
  3. Monarch Lake (near Granby) – Some friends just posted facebook pics from their Sunday funday here and it is a beauty! We have backpacked up in this area and it is one of our favorite spots. There is a ton of fish in this lake so you can bring a fishing pole, go on an incredible hike and possibly see a moose or two while you are at it!
  4. Lake Dillon (near Frisco) – This truly is a beautiful place to SUP and is in the heart of Summit County – close to Frisco, Dillon, Keystone, Breckenridge and Vail. The views of the mountains are absolutely gorgeous up there. You can paddle to different islands within the lake and picnic or take a snooze. All the neighboring towns offer so many fun activities, restaurants, bars, music, etc. One of the best parts of Summit County in my opinion.
  5. Trout Lake (near Telluride) – I added this one because we will be in Telluride for a music festival in the fall. If it’s not too cold, I’d love to check this out. Anything in this part of Colorado is amazing! The lake is supposed to be pretty calm and good for beginners.
  6. Gross Reservoir (near Nederland). This spot is wonderful!! There’s no swimming allowed, though, so if you go overboard, get back on the board STAT. Additionally, you’ll have some rules: stand-up paddle-boards have to be labeled with the owner’s name and basic information (address and phone) and all those out on the water must have a life jacket and a whistle or horn for safety reasons.
  7. Twin Lakes (near Leadville) – These lakes are beautiful!! They are tucked in a scenic valley just 20 miles from Leadville. You can find some great dispersed camping in this area and hike a 14er while you are at it. If you are there at the right time, you may experience the Leadville 100 foot race! Yep, these people run 100 miles through the mountainous terrain in this region.
  8. Lake San Cristobal (near Lake City) – I love, love, love Lake City. It reminds me of a town you might find in Alaska. Supposedly the lake is full of trout so you can fish off the board! It too, is supposed to be great for beginner paddle-boarding. There are a couple of great 14ers in the area as well! Lake City itself is simple and adorable.
  9. Any of the Lakes and reservoirs in the East Flat Tops Wilderness (near Steamboat Springs) – We loved it up there – lots of fishing to be done at the same time, so bring a pole if you are so inclined. Hiking shoes, mountain bikes and tents need to be included in the adventure!
  10. McIntosh Lake (near Longmont) — We checked this place out last Sunday. It’s great! Paddle boarders and kayakers only and not that many to boot. It’s supposed to be great for spotting wildlife, but honestly, I am not sure this is possible given it’s in the middle of a neighborhood.

Alright, alright, I think we are ready to get out there and explore some really good options.

Happy paddling,



    1. Hey Mel! Not ignorant at all…you are right, the mountains are the highlight, though we do have some pretty sweet alpine lakes surrounded by mountains….still, I would not come to Colorado for water sports. haha.

      Liked by 1 person

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