See Minnesota’s Lakes and Rivers—from a Stand-Up Paddleboard
By Amanda Fretheim Gates
I’m not the most athletic person. When it comes to summer activities like running after a soccer ball or diving for a volleyball on the beach, I’m more likely to say, “Nah, you go ahead. I’ll sit here in my lawn chair, read my book, and sip my beer.” I’ll lounge on a boat, float on a raft, or dip my feet in the kiddie pool before jumping into a friendly game of badminton or slipping on inline skates.
However, over the past couple of years, there’s one sport that I’ve been dying to try, so much so, I look at myself and think, “Who is this person?” But here I am, thinking stand up paddleboarding looks like an absolute blast. Would you believe me when I say stand up paddleboarding is the fastest growing water sport in the world? It’s true, and the cool thing is that almost anyone can do it. You don’t have to ride the waves like on a surfboard, you just have to stand and paddle. Keeping your balance (and strengthening your inner core) and working your arms proves to be a great workout, for nearly all ages (under 14 years and 100 pounds seems to be the cut off).
Turns out, stand up paddleboarding is a great way to experience Minnesota’s rivers and lakes. We have tour companies that use paddleboards or you can just rent one for an hour and give it a try. (For some pointers, REI, an outdoors-equipment store, offers some great paddleboarding tips and video clips for beginners.)
Stand Up MN is one company that’s taken a cue from this sport’s popularity, offering tours down the Mississippi River, through either Minneapolis or St. Paul. For a few weekends in August, the company is expanding its tour menu to include Taylor’s Falls, the Coon Rapids Dam, and Hastings. All tours have a professional guide (who will take pictures for you!) and are great for beginners and veterans. Those looking for shorter excursions can try the weekday tour, which goes down the Mississippi through the University of Minnesota campus. Stand Up MN even offers sunset tours.
Twin Cities Paddleboard delivers paddleboards to your lake of choice (for groups of four or more, some lakes excluded) and includes an introductory lesson as well. You can also rent paddleboards at Dakota County Parks, lakes Calhoun, Nokomis, and Harriet in Minneapolis, Bryant Lake Park in Eden Prairie, at Lake Lodge Recreation Center in Winona, in the Brainerd Lakes area, and at many of our other 12,000 lakes.