Catch the surf bug in Wyoming with stand up paddle boarding

A sport that combines elements of surfing with centuries-old techniques of paddling across large and small bodies of water including rivers, stand up paddle boarding has been gaining momentum ever since the first “touring” boards hit the market in 2008.

Initially used by surfers in the 1940’s simply as a technique to get out into the waves, then transitioning to its own sport in the 1990’s and then hitting its current from in 2007, stand up paddle boarding or SUP is a great alternative to kayaking, wake boarding or regular surfing and allows access to some of the best water recreation Wyoming has offer without needing a lot of training or special equipment. A life vest, paddle board and paddle and people of all ages and abilities can enjoy a day on the water.

The most common and fastest growing type of paddle boarding is called touring or flat water. This is the type that is also the most likely to happen in Wyoming’s waterways. Paddle boards fall into two categories, solid and inflatable. Solid paddle boards are actually the most common. Construction of these boards uses EPS, or Expanded Polystyrene Foam, as a core or blank. Then, they would wrap this foam core in different kinds of materials, namely: layering wood and/or PVC veneer, fiberglass, and epoxy materials.

Inflatable paddle boards are gaining in popularity for their portability and affordability. These paddle boards are made of “drop-stitching,” the combination of two layers of polyester fabric with thousands of polyester threads. The airtight coating then goes to all outside surfaces. Lastly, the wide-seam tape is glued over each seam to make it an airtight board. These boards can be inflated with either a hand pump or an electric pump. Many modern SUPs also come with a variety of options like deck seats, double paddles for a kayak stroke and back packs for portability.

Most SUP boards are in the range of 10–12 feet, with boards over 12 feet used mostly for racing, and those under 10 feet primarily used for SUP surfing. The size board a user would choose depends on the user’s weight, although height can also be a factor. Wider boards give better stability for beginners, as well as users who plan to do casual activities with their board, such as yoga, touring, and fishing. Narrower boards are more agile and are mostly used by advanced paddlers and for SUP surfing.

In addition to enjoying the water ways of Wyoming with leisure paddling that tends to be easier than canning and less restrictive than kayaks paddle boards are also used for gaining access to water for fishing and even yoga. Some even have their canine companions join them in their activities on lakes or Rivers.

In spite of its name, standing up is not mandatory to enjoy paddle boarding. Operators can sit or kneel on their boards depending on experience and skill level. It is important to utilize proper safety equipment like life vests and board tethers. While a license is not necessary for operation the boards are considered a water craft and the “drain, clean and dry” to prevent the transfer of invasive aquatic species does need to be practiced.

Some of the best paddle boarding in the state can be practiced on smaller lakes and ponds with larger lakes being accessible in the “no wake zones”. Additionally, the larger and slower moving rivers are great for paddle boarding trips. Any river that can be tubed can be paddled on including the North Platte, portions of the Big Horn, parts of the Green and other smaller water ways. Major lakes and reservoirs with good beaches or ramps are Guernsey State Park, Glendo reservoir, Boysen Reservoir, Keyhole, Louis Lake, and many others around the state.

Kid-size paddle boards ensure that younger outdoorsmen and ladies can enjoy paddle boarding with the adults. Many kids as young as seven can handle smaller paddle boards and participate safely when utilizing safety gear and proper instruction and supervision. Paddle boarding can be fun for the whole family and is a great way to get out on the water all over the state.