Stand Up Paddling in Aspen

Being an adventurous crew at The Little Nell, this week we decided to try Aspen’s newest sport: stand up paddling in the river.

This amazing core workout is not only a fun way to burn calories, but it’s also a great way to experience nature in Aspen. For our outing, we took to the calm waters of the North Star Nature Preserve, a beautiful stretch of open space on the east side of Aspen. Aspen Kayak and SUP Academy’s own Charlie MacArthur was our fearless leader. When you are trying out a new sport, it helps to have the guy who pretty much invented it guide you in your endeavor. Charlie is that guy.

Charlie started stand up paddling in Fiji in ’03 on his honeymoon and soon brought a surfboard and paddle to the rapids of Colorado.  Now using specialized shorter, thicker and wider boards that he helped design, Charlie is offering instruction in stand up paddling on the river. For beginners like our crew, North Star was the perfect place to start.

We received wetsuits and booties to keep as warm, as well as helmets for the obvious reasons. We opted to skip the fleeces and dry tops, but the gear is available for colder days. We each picked out a board and paddle suited to our height and weight, and suddenly we were off.

“Wait, we’re in the water already? No big hoopla or hours of instruction?”

With stand up paddling, it’s best to just get in there.

Floating on gentle water gives you time to figure out your balance, and you can even stay kneeling on the board if you are more comfortable doing that. After some float time on the river, we ducked off to a pond in the middle of the nature preserve to practice skills like paddling, turning and trying different stances on the board. We eventually began racing each other across the pond, with Charlie there to document our photo finishes.  

After our skills session, we returned to the river and finished out our journey in the flowing waters.

We know what you’re wondering. Yes, we all fell in. It’s really inevitable if you are trying something new like this requiring balance and testing yourself with new things. But the pond water was surprisingly warm – the river water predictably cold. That’s why you have wetsuits for this sport in Aspen.

We can’t wait to make it back out on the river and would suggest you get out there during this warm summer weather. If you want to book a stand up paddling adventure through The Little Nell (including a gourmet packed picnic lunch), contact our Adventure Shop at 970-920-6315 or find more information here.