River paddle boarding catching on around Aspen, Rocky Mountains

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Ocean paddle boarding (SUP) is a growing sport in the West Coast and is catching on in the East Coast, but here in the Rocky Mountains, adventurers are becoming more and more enthralled with a new hybrid on the sport – river paddle boarding SUP!

Paddle boarding involves standing or sitting on a surfboard-like apparatus – called a paddle board – and maintaining your balance while paddling the water with a long paddle. To help us better understand this phenomenon, our blog team recruited Jennifer Steele to participate in this week’s Q&A session. Jennifer’s the reservations manager at Frias Properties of Aspen, so she’s pretty much our resident expert on planning a perfect getaway! Below, she answers a few questions about her favorite new sport.

Frias Properties of Aspen Asst. Director of Reservations Jennifer Steele splashes around on a recent river paddle boarding trip.

Q: How did you get involved with paddle-boarding?
A: “My friend learned the sport while visiting Hawaii. Now a group of girls try to get together to master the sport on the Roaring Fork.”

Q: Is it a hard sport to master?
A: “Paddle boarding is what you make of it! I think it can be for anyone. You can jaunt around Ruedi Reservoir at a slower pace or challenge yourself in the Roaring Fork River. For river paddle boarding you need a lot of balance, keep the board straight down river, and use your paddle as a crutch through the rapids. Each board has different reaction time in the rapids. It’s certainly not for everyone. I think being in shape and athletic helps control the board on the river.”

Q: Where do you go?
A: “The Colorado River mostly. Grizzly to South Canyon in West Glenwood is a lot of fun. Lots of great waves in South Canyon [experts only]!”

 Q: What time of season is best?
A: “A sunny summer day.”

Q: What type of equipment is used?
A: “Paddle Board. A long paddle with handle. Life jackets and helmet are king when the rivers low. A leash is great but you can’t rent them for safety reasons.. They can get caught on river rocks. Occasional wet suit and booties or river shoes.”

Q: Where can I get equipment around here?
A: “Glenwood Adventure Company. Ken Murphy 970-456-7907.”

 Q: Is it good for families and kids, or is it too extreme?
A: “Families can ride in the raft, next to the family paddle boarder.”

A group of friends paddle the Colorado River.

Q: What type of water is needed? Rapids? Calm?
A: “Either is great! I personally like the challenge of the rapids, and kicking back to relax between the tides.”

Q: Do you go alone or in a group?
A: “The buddy system is best!”

Q: What’s the main thing to beware of when on the water?
A: “River rocks.”

Q: Does it hurt when you wipe out?
A: “No, as long you as focus on your fall, and try to avoid the big river rocks. Helmets are key!”

Q: Tell us about your best paddle-boarding experience.
A: “Best trip so far was a 5-hour cruise from Grizzley West Glenwood Springs to South Canyon [experts only].”

Q: What (or where) would you like to paddle-board next?
A: “Love to do Two Rivers to South Canyon again and practice the big waves.”

Q: What’s the best advice you can give to a first-time paddle-boarder?
A: “Enjoy!”

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