Stand-up paddle boarding

Finding some balance in life
Glide the Surface

SUP Adventures

Stand-up paddle boarding is an spinoff from surfing that became famous on the tropical beaches of Hawaii. It involves standing on a board and using a one bladed paddle to propel yourself through the water. As one of the fastest growing sports in the world Stand-up paddle boards or SUP’s as they call them are being used in a variety of water sources. From rolling ocean waves to still mirror ponds, flowing rivers and tidal fiords, mountain lakes and calm seas. SUP’s are being used as a form of exercise and a way to explore our incredible environment. Easy to learn but requires some balance, it’s an activity for people of all ages and even your dog. Now you might not think of water sports when you think of Alaska but why not? When asked by locals "What time of year is best for stand up paddling in Valdez?" a common response is "year-round”.

Stand up paddling is the closest feeling to walking on water and a joy to everyone who masters this skill. Forecast a great day buy looking for sunny skies and calm winds. Glassy waters are what to look for and be sure to pick the best time of day for tides. There are some fantastic options for renting boards and going on a guided tour. Stand-up paddle boarding should definitely be on the list of activities to do when you visit Valdez.

Paddle Boarding in Valdez, Alaska SUP Photos by Paddlers of the North
Mountain Lake Paddle Boarding

One favorite spot to paddle is Solomon Lake, a high mountain lake with a dam that over looks the Port of Valdez. When the dam is flowing over the spillway it is like an enormous infinity pool.

Winter SUP

Winter and spring are the locals favorites because of the crystal clear water and not many people out. (Except for a few seals, otters and maybe a small whale or sealion) The port of Valdez in the winter is the most northern ice free port in USA. Some mornings you might have to wait for a thin layer of ice on the surface to melt out when the sun hits it, but most of the time you are good to go. Put in at Dock point and paddle north to duck flats and around the mini islands covered in birds is a favorite of mine and easy route in calm waters. Paddle around the boats in the harbor or launch near the ferry dock to access different areas.

Robe Lake

Robe lake is the perfect spot to get mirror reflections and spot wildlife on the banks. May is the time when the ice finally melts and you can hike in with snowshoes to paddle. Swans and geese also use the lake during the migration in may. Eagles can always be seen flying overhead. Moose and Bears also frequent the banks to check the water or maybe just to watch the people paddling on SUP’s.

Paddle With Icebergs

By June the Valdez glacier lake will open up and the opportunity to float and paddle around icebergs and down glacial crevasses is a unique and incredible experience not to miss. Alaska has over 1 million lakes and many in the Valdez area. With the new technology of inflatable boards it is possible to carry your SUP in a backpack and hike into remote lakes for a multi-sport activity day.

Paddlers of the North in Valdez, Alaska
Paddlers of the North

The local crew in Valdez known as the “Paddlers of the North” prefer inflatable boards around 11-12 feet long and 30+ inches wide making for a stable surface. The boards take some effort to pump up unless you have a compressor or 12v pump in your vehicle, but it’s always a good warm up!

The water in the port of Valdez ranges from 39° F in March to 53° F in August. Many of the lakes with glacial flow will be a bit colder than that. A dry suit or thick wetsuit is an excellent idea and will work great, but the best advise is “Just don’t fall in!”