“Rivers know this: There is no hurry. We shall get there someday.” A.A. Milne
Rivers can be so peaceful, and yet powerful and unpredictable, and ultimately…humbling. But just as navigating the narrow waterways, tight curves, and soft rapids of the San Miguel can help teach skills, patience and perseverance; simply floating down the river on a tube purchased at the hardware store is incredibly enjoyable gazing up at the unreal blue sky and Stay-Puft, billowy clouds.
Spending time on the river happens to be one of my favorite summertime activities. Water sports in the Telluride area are very popular amongst locals and visitors alike. In the past several years, Stand-Up Paddle Boarding has become more popular both at Trout Lake and on the valley floor section on the San Miguel right in our backyard. Here’s a quick guide to get started SUPing:
What gear will we need?
Paddle Boards can be rented from Paragon BootDoctors and Jagged Edge for daily use. They also provide paddles, life jackets and helmets. Athletic wear including river booties is suggested and a wet suit is not a bad idea if it’s your first time. The water is COLD! You will also need straps and a vehicle ready to go at the end of the float.
Where do we start and finish?
Before starting your float down the river, you will need to drop off a vehicle at the Society turn, across the street from the Conoco gas station. Society turn is 3 miles from Telluride, turning left towards Mountain Village at the roundabout. There is a parking area at the end of the Valley Floor. Make sure you have straps in the car and some dry clothes.
As far as where to start your SUPing adventure, there are a few different options. For a quicker float, start at the Shandoka bridge. When driving out of town, turn left at the roundabout onto Mahoney drive. You can park a car at the Shandoka parking lot. For a bit more of a challenge, you can start at the town park parking lot. The town section of the river has a lot more rocks and quick turn so be ready to paddle!
When can we paddle?
The river season in the Telluride area can be sporadic and unpredictable based on snow melt and rain fall. Make sure you check the conditions of the river. Talk to locals and the employees at BootDoctors or Jagged Edge to find out if the river is safe for paddle boarding. The river is usually at ‘SUPable’ levels between June and September. Keep in mind that paddling on a river can be much more challenging than paddling on a lake. As the river pushes you along, you have to dodge rocks, make quick turns and all while trying to keep your balance on a floating board. Make sure to go with a friend, bring some cold beers and get ready to get wet!