Take a spin on a standup paddle board in bend, oregon

Want to check out Bend’s lakes and rivers from a totally new perspective? Give standup paddle boarding a shot.

You’ve probably seen the sport on TV or even on a visit to Hawaii. Riders stand on a large surfboard and maneuver with a long, lightweight, single-blade paddle. Sometimes there’s a dog on the front of the board, and always there’s a smile on the rider’s face.

“You don’t need any prior experience,” explained John Cramp, General Manager for Sun Country Tours, which offers standup paddle board lessons and rentals. “If you’re looking to do something new, this is a good way to get out on the water without a defined skill-set.”

Standup paddle boarding is an ancient Hawaiian sport, but has quickly gained popularity in Bend. On any summer day, you’ll see paddlers of all ages and fitness levels making their way through the middle of town on the Deschutes River. Because it’s a sport the whole family can enjoy, it’s not uncommon to see riders maneuvering standup paddle boards in large groups, sometimes accompanied by friends in inner tubes or air mattresses.


There are a number of outfitters in Bend that offer standup paddle board lessons and tours. Check out Sun Country, Tumalo Creek, Standup Paddle Flatwater, and Stand On Liquid, which offer services ranging from two-hour group lessons to private and semi-private options. They provide all gear, including boards, paddles, life jackets, water shoes, and even cool weather gear if needed.

It’s up to you to supply the muscle.

“It’s a little like trying to balance on one of those giant fitness balls,” Cramp explained. “You’re using a lot of core strength to stay upright and keep balanced.”

First timers hoping to try standup paddle boarding should be in moderately good shape. Though it’s common for riders to paddle with a dog on the front of the board, it’s wise to get your feet wet first and make sure you can balance before you add a wriggling dog to the mix.

Sun Country offers standup paddle board lessons on the Deschutes River near the Old Mill District. Lessons can be customized for individuals or groups. Tumalo Creek also offers up a few special guided lessons and tours that include a Women's SUP Night every Monday and Thursday during the summer months between 6-8pm. For $20, you get a board and paddle rental, a personal floatation device, and light instruction. You also won't want to miss a chance to cruise the river under a full moon with their moonlight standup paddle tours, too! For something truly unique, Standup Paddle Flatwater offers classes that include yoga/pilates instruction on the board.

For those already comfortable on a paddle board, renting equipment and setting out on your own is another great option. The marina at Elk Lake Resort offers equipment rental for use on the lake. Tumalo Creek, Sun Country and Standup Paddle Flatwater rent equipment, including the tie-downs to mount the board on your car.

From there, you can set out for one of several dozen lakes in the Central Oregon area. It’s a unique chance to get an entirely new view of the underwater terrain.

“You have a higher perspective on things because you’re standing up,” Cramp added. 


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