A Popular Way to Cruise Through our Rivers and Lakes

Standup Paddleboarding (SUP)

In 2014, Outside magazine honored Bend as the world’s best SUP getaway. What’s SUP, doc? It’s shorthand for standup paddleboarding, and it’s the hottest way to scope out Bend’s lakes and rivers from a whole new perspective.

Born from an ancient Hawaiian sport, standup paddleboarding is one of the fastest-growing outdoor activities in Bend. Stroll along the Deschutes River near the Old Mill District and you’re sure to see someone gliding along, paddle in hand, dog on board, and big ol’ smile on face.

Want to give SUP a shot? You don’t need any prior experience, though a lesson doesn’t hurt. Check out the offerings from local outfitters like Tumalo Creek Kayak & CanoeSun Country Tours, Standup Paddle BendStand On Liquid,  and more. You’ll find a variety of options for private and group lessons that include all the gear you’ll need.

If you just want to go it on your own, check out our list of rental options below to grab all the gear you need for your own SUP outing. Once you’re hooked, they’ll hook you up with gear you can purchase for your very own.

If you’re looking to get your SUP legs on the Deschutes River, a good place to start is at Riverbend Park. Put your board in from the sandy shore and paddle upstream toward the Bill Healy Memorial Bridge. You can turn around there and let yourself drift slowly back to your starting point, or continue on past and paddle through the Old Mill District. Just make sure you’ve got the energy left to paddle back upstream, and watch for signs you’re approaching the dicey spillway at the Colorado Avenue Bridge.

If you’d rather paddle flatwater, you’ll find plenty of it in the lovely alpine lakes along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. The Elk Lake Marina rents standup paddleboards by the hour, as does the Cultus Lake Marina.

Feeling comfortable enough to take the challenge to the next level? Try an outing with Flow-Flow and learn to do yoga on your standup paddleboard. If you’ve brought your pooch along for vacation, check with your equipment rental company to make sure it’s OK to take Fido on the board. If they give their blessing, don’t forget to outfit him with a K-9 FloatCoat from Bend-based Ruffwear. Not only will it keep your pup safe and buoyant, the handle will help you haul him back on the board if he decides to go for a dip.

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