Stand Up Paddleboarding is a fun and challenging way to spend time on the water, find out the best places to SUP on the West Coast

Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) has seen a big resurgence in the last few years, becoming a favorite pastime for people looking to do some human powered exploring out on the water. Paddle boarding isn’t just a great way to get active and stay fit, it allows you to see some incredible scenery that you otherwise couldn’t. Few places abound with as much paddling access as the West Coast of the United States. There are a litany of different places to explore using a paddle board, from mountain lakes, rivers, and on out to the ocean. So lets dive in and take a look at some of the best places to paddle board on the West Coast.

Trinity River and Whiskeytown Lake, California

Trinity River
Trinity River – Photo Credit Jim Horner

The Trinity River and Whiskeytown Lake in Shasta County California makes our number 1 spot. This scenic area abounds with native wildlife like black bears, bald eagles, turtles, mountain lions, and fish like Smallmouth Bass and Kokonee salmon.

Whiskeytown Lake in particular is a sweet spot for paddling because of it’s intensely clear water with visibility reaching down to 30 feet. Another feature of the lake that appeals to recreational users is that the lake’s level is mandated to stay at full from Memorial Day to Labor Day, giving you plenty of time to get out and enjoy the crystal clear water.

The Trinity River, which feeds Whiskeytown Lake, is another paddling spot worth checking out if you’re in the area. The longest tributary of the Klamath River, the Trinity is designated a Wild and Scenic River and provides some incredible scenery and respite from the areas summer temps which can reach in the high 90’s. From gently flowing sections to wild rapids the Trinity has a little something for everyone.

La Jolla – La Jolla Cove Marine Sanctuary, California

La Jolla Cove from La Jolla Shores
La Jolla Cove – Photo Credit SD Dirk Flickr

No trip to the west coast would be complete without venturing down to southern California and while you’re there be sure to check out the La Jolla Cove Marine Sanctuary. In 2015 La Jolla Cove was named the 6th Best Beach in the US by TripAdvisor. If you’re a paddle boarder who enjoys plentiful marine life and stunning scenery then the La Jolla Cove is for you.

Being a marine sanctuary means that if you go you’ll be amazed at the amount and diversity of the wildlife beneath your board. Home to bat rays, sea turtles, sea lions, and (eek!) sharks youll be in SUP heaven while youre out on the water.

Bend, Oregon (anywhere… just go)

Bend, Oregon
Bend, Oregon Photo Credit – Gordon Flickr

In 2014 Bend was name the Best SUP Getaway in the world and for good reason too. This paddlers paradise is home to tons of different paddling opportunities for all different skill levels. A good initiation into Bend’s awesome paddling is the Deschutes River and it runs through the heart of Bend. Pull up to Riverbend Park and paddle up or down river for great views of Mill District, do watch out for the spillway at the Colorado Avenue Bridge though or might have wild ride on your hands.

If you want to get out of the city check out the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. Rated as one of the 10 most important byways in America by Scenic America this area features incredible views of Mt. Bachelor and huge panoramic vistas. Some paddle boarding hot spots are Elk Lake and Cultus Lake.

Kopachuck State Park, Washington

kopachuck state park
Kopachuck State Park Photo Credit – Kristi Kirschner Flickr

Washington has no shortage of pristine paddling options just waiting for you to enjoy. One of the ideal spots is Kopachuck State Park. With over 100 acres of land and water to enjoy this is an awesome stop if you’re looking to do paddling and relaxing. Views of the Olympic Mountains are the main dish as your paddling and the camping is excellent too. Nature is everywhere in Kopachuck and is one of the main draws to area. As the tide draws out you’ll be spoiled for sandy beaches and marine exploration.

Lake Tahoe, California

lake tahoe, california
Lake Tahoe – Photo Credit Jim Horner

Lake Tahoe offers some of bluest and best water for paddle boarding out there. If you’re interested in a more inland vibe Lake Tahoe is a surefire winner. The largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe offers unrivaled recreation activities and one of our favorites… you guessed it, paddle boarding. The paddle boarding on the lake is incredible, with visibility down to 70+ feet the underwater scenery is almost as good as the Sierra Mountains you’re paddling in. Take note though the water may be cold when you go as the lake sits high in the mountains being fed by snow melt so a wetsuit might be in order.

While you’re there be sure to stop at Meeks Bay Beach. Known for its huge, clean beaches Meeks is the perfect spot for heading out to paddle. With tons of different activities Meeks will be a hit for the whole family too. Lounge, picnic or paddle you’ll be set at Meeks Bay Beach.

Well, there you have it, 5 of the best places to paddle board on the west coast! While the opportunities are everywhere out here these represent some of the can’t miss spots. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed paddle or an adrenaline inducing adventure you’re sure to find what fits you fancy out on the west coast.

Guest post by Jim. Jim is the wild man behind He’s been excited about the outdoors for as long as he can remember. After moving to Montana he picked up on the amazing whitewater and wanted to share the love of the sport that means so much to him.


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