Looking for the best national parks for paddleboarding? Want to SUP (stand-up paddleboard) your way around the country? These six destinations and paddleboarding tips for travel will have you floating and paddling with ease. The versatility of stand-up-paddleboarding makes it the perfect activity for your next national park trip. Whether you prefer flat-water lakes, gentle rivers, or rhythmic ocean waves, the national parks system has a variety of water options. Paddleboarding can be relaxing or demanding, depending on where you go. Spend a mellow afternoon basking in the sun, or squeeze in a morning workout on the water. You’ll just need to find the perfect location first – and we’ve got you covered.
The Best National Parks for Paddleboarding
The best national parks for paddleboarding may surprise you. You might not have even known some of these were national parks! Our list of paddleboard-able parks will have you itching for the weekend. Figure out what parks to hit, and use our itineraries to help plan your trip. All you need is your board. And a paddle. Those tend to help.
Jasper National Park
Picture a calm excursion over glassy blue waters, the majestic Canadian Rockies rising behind you. If you’re looking for a tranquil paddleboarding experience, Jasper National Park might be one of your best bets. Lake Edith’s calm waters are a great spot to try out paddleboard yoga! Be sure to properly clean your paddleboard before entering the water to help reduce the spread of whirling disease. This is a good practice anywhere you bring your paddleboard, especially from one body of water to another.
Yellowstone National Park
America’s first national park is first-rate when it comes to paddleboarding opportunities. Spend the day wandering among Yellowstone’s hot springs and geysers and then cool off with a trip over one of its serene lakes or rivers. You can choose your own pace with the variety of water types. Jenny Lake has epic views of the Tetons, while some of the lesser known rivers will have ample fishing opportunities. Ever fly fished from a paddleboard? That will really test your balance.
Virgin Islands National Park
Photo by Wadé
If you prefer your paddleboarding paired with tropical destinations, this park is the one for you. Turquoise bays and lush greenery accompany your adventures here, making it an irresistible choice for novices and experts alike. If you prefer to do your paddleboarding without lots of layers, this tropical paradise will be just your speed.
Acadia National Park
Photo by Keith Luke
Welcome the sunrise where it first greets the United States each day with a variety of paddleboarding excursions. The only location for this activity in Eastern Maine, Acadia, that offers group and private lessons. Additionally, you can even take a yoga class on your board! The water is chilly in Maine (even in the summer!) so be sure to pack lots of layers for your paddleboarding excursion.
Olympic National Park
Olympic’s glacier-carved Lake Crescent and Lake Quinault offer prime locations for stand-up paddleboarding trips. Paddle in the shadow of towering Mount Storm King and cruise among the pines in the calm waters of Lake Quinault. Most of all, enjoy the sunshine and peaceful surroundings. This is one of our favorite spots for marine wildlife spottings too! Whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals, and sea otters all call the Pacific Northwest’s coastline home. Please be respectful of wildlife and keep your distance!
Glacier National Park
Countless glaciers over thousands of years have carved out some magnificent places to paddle. So, grab your adventurous spirit and your travel companions for a day of fun in this impressive playground! Quartz, Bowman, and Kintla Lakes all provide excellent paddleboarding, and impressive views to boot. SUP it up good here, and then enjoy a huckleberry bear claw, a regional delicacy.
Paddleboarding with Kids
Are you planning your next national park vacation with family in tow? Stand up paddleboarding is a great way to get your kids outside, especially if some of them are a little more nervous about swimming. Be sure to fit your kids for the right sized paddleboard, saving you and them a lot of headache in the future. Map out a route of where you’re heading, and pick a meet-up spot in case anyone gets lost. Pack a lifejacket for every kid (lifejacket regulations depend on your location, so be sure to do your research). Snacks, suntan lotion, and a good attitude are a must!
Are you curious about what other kinds of outdoor activities you should include on your national park trip? Try rock climbing, boating, hiking, or even spelunking! Our national parks are your oyster. Now get out there and paddle!