SUP Invasion In Colorado’s Mountain Towns

A delightful invasion it has begun. More people are taking up water sports! Whether they are looking on for the perfect kayak, renting a canoe for the day, or hitting the water with the paddleboard, there’s certainly been an increase in the number of people on the water in recent years. Today, we’re going to be focussing on the most unknown of these: paddleboarding. I started noticing a rise in Stand Up Paddleboarding on our Colorado water ways over the last three years. I was baffled the first time I saw someone SUP’ing. It was a somewhat biblical experience seeing someone standing up floating in the middle of a river. My initial reaction was skeptical; it looked just plain ridiculous, downright comical, but none the less interesting.


It was an experience down in Lake Powell that really got me interested. A friend had let me borrow an inflatable SUP. I had time to kill while waiting for friends to arrive during a camping trip in one of the side canyons. I blew the thing up, adjusted the paddle to the right height and set off on a trial run. Was it stable? Yes. If I fell off would it be easy to get back up on it? Very easily. How did it maneuver? Not too well at first, but I had not put the fins on, ahh ha! Once the fins were on it glided beautifully, the best part, I could see down to the bottom of the lake where fish galore were cruising. I was hooked.


So where did this sport come from. The GoPro Mountain Games in Vail held a SUP Sprint and a SUP Surf Cross Competition. FibArk heated up with SUP down river races and a freestyle event too. The sport comes from the worlds coastal regions and has found its way into our Rivers and Lakes. Here are a few of Colorado’s mountain town SUP pioneers, folks who are now bringing the sport to you with board construction, sales and instruction.

charlie macarthur

Charlie MacArthur- Aspen Kayak & SUP

Charlie’s SUP roots begin in California where he grew up surfing. Hawaii was a destination his family would frequently visit for surf trips. During those trips he had seen some older surfers paddling while surfing, he tried it and thought it was really hard. It wasn’t until his honeymoon in 2003 when he tried a tandem board in Fiji that he too was hooked by SUP and brought the sport back to Colorado with him. Charlie began designing and testing shapes with Dave Parmenter and C4Waterman for river use. His contributions assisted C4Waterman in creating the first SUP Board designed for river use. In 2007 Charlie added SUP to his instructional offerings at Aspen Kayak Academy and has become known as THE pioneer of River SUP.

JavierandDaughter SUP

Javier Placer-Rodriguez – Stand Up Paddle Colorado

Co-founder of Stand Up Paddleboard Colorado, Javier is an accomplished 12-year river guide with international experience that has translated to this new sport. Javier and his business partner Scotty Stoughton obtained the permit for their SUP business in 2009 and launched Stand Up Paddleboard Colorado in 2011 along the banks of the Colorado River as this new river sport started emerging. Javier has safely guided thousands of thrill seekers and now offers lessons and tours from the new base camp at Rancho del Rio in Bond. Certified in Class III – Class V whitewater he and his crew can outfit you and teach the basics as well as advanced techniques. His river diva daughter Camille is the perfect example of what you can accomplish on a SUP Board.

earl SUP cks

Earl Richmond – Colorado Kayak Supply

Earl Richmond loves the water. It is a passion that he has taken to his line of business, CKS Colorado Kayak Supply, as a co-owner. Although it could appear self serving Earl’s genuine love of whitewater shows in his enthusiasm about getting people into the water and converting them into paddlers. His involvement in the SUP River Board industry has been from inception as the sport took off in our nation’s coastal cities and towns. He has spent a lot of time SUP’ing, learning so he can share his knowledge of the sport and its products with others too.


Mike Harvey & Zach Hughes– Badfish SUP

Mike was raised as a Midwest flat lander growing up in Ohio. It was his love of rivers and mountains that brought him to Colorado. He found himself in Buena Vista after he graduated from High School training to be a raft guide and then learned to Kayak. His passion led him to competitions where he became a freestyle whitewater kayaker and qualified for the US National Kayak Team. In 2000, Mike began working with designing and building whitewater parks all over North America.

Mike and his best friend Zach Hughes a California transplant who lives for the water launched Badfish SUP. Zach, another white water professional competitor is their innovative designer creating boards specific to river surfing and SUP racing. With the Arkansas River in both of their backyards they are raising some serious SUP and kayak kids too.

SUP Yoga

SUP Yoga

With the rise of Stand Up Paddleboarding has come SUP Yoga. If you thought the core work out you got just taking one of these boards out on the rivers was intense then you need to try some SUP Yoga. Traditional Yoga practices are brought to the board, which are almost always anchored to the bottom of a lake or pond via a tether and weight. With wind will come movement and for a beginner you probably wouldn’t want to be blown away from the instructor. The serenity of sitting on your board listening to lapping of the water and the outside sounds of nature is extremely relaxing. The movements once mastered are extremely gratifying.

Stand Up Paddle Colorado is incorporating classes to their many SUP offerings. Wanderlust Colorado, a large gathering of Yogis at Copper Mountain this summer, also has classes lined up in their schedule. Classes for this genre of athleticism are popping up all over including pools.

Meta Yoga Studios in partnership with Alpine Sports has also been offering SUP Yoga classes at the Breckenridge Maggie Pond. Check your local Yoga Studio and Recreation Center to see if they are joining this new sport.

Just Plain Fun


Lakes or Rivers will offer you a great workout and a heck of a lot of Fun!


Get out and enjoy.

~MTN Town Magazine

Photo Credits: Click on the Image for Credits

Summer 2013 Issue

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