October 11, 2021 9 min read

Exploring Idaho By Paddle Board

Exploring Idaho by paddle boards

Idaho is one of the USA’s most underrated destinations. With 114 mountain ranges and 3.9 million acres of wilderness, this is the 3rd wildest state in America. And throw in arguably some of the most breathtaking views in the world. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t start dreaming about paddle boarding in Idaho!

The crisp and fresh water will take your breath away, both literally and figuratively. Similar to paddle boarding in Seattle or Chicago, Idaho can get pretty cold in the winter months. But with the right wetsuit in your SUP gear, nothing can stop you from enjoying these magnificent locations.

Best SUP Spots in Boise 

Boise is Idaho’s capital city and offers some great locations to take your stand up paddle board. Some of the best SUP spots in Boise are just a short drive out of the city, while others are ideal for a post-work paddle.

Boise River

Boise river SUP paddle board

Boise River is possibly the most convenient place to take your SUP if you’re based in the city. Access from downtown is extremely easy. Launch from Barber Park on Eckert Road. From here, you can take on a popular 6-mile route down the river.

While the water isn’t exactly fast-moving, it’s still a river that brings certain challenges to paddling. Therefore, this isn’t the most beginner-friendly place to start learning how to paddle board. Instead, why not head over to Lucky Peak Reservoir or Quinn’s Pond. This spot is only a 20-minute drive out of the city and provides ideal flatwater conditions.

The Salmon

Rocky Salmon River

The Salmon River is slowly becoming one of the more popular places to paddle board in Idaho. Also known as the “The River With No Return”, this beast is 425-miles long in total, carving through the central Idaho landscape.

There are several spots along the river offering varying degrees of difficulty. Beginners should head to the Middle Fork of the river for some of the best calm conditions surrounded by natural beauty. However, we shout out to all those looking for an adventurous stand up paddle boarding location in Idaho. With rapids cascading down sections of this river, you can try your hand at some SUP surf skills and test your paddling skills on the whitewater waves.

Payette Lake and River

Pines at Payette Lake

Payette River and Lake is another fantastic location in Idaho that offers something for everyone. No matter what your paddle boarding level is, you’re guaranteed to have fun at one of these Payette gems:

  • Montour Reach – moving water but no rapids. Be cautious of sand banks as river levels drop
  • South Fork, Garden Valley Reach – a beautiful 6-mile paddle route
  • North Fork, Cascade to Cabarton – 9-miles of meandering flatwater, ideal for a remote escape

Lake Cascade

Lake Cascades with waterfalls

Lake Cascade is a little further out from Boise, taking you around 1.5 hours to drive there. The lake is simply magnificent and is the perfect weekend escape for outdoor lovers. Check out one of the many lakeside campgrounds so you can make the most of this superb SUP location.

Lake Cascade is best at sunset. The mountainous surroundings give one of the most memorable views in Idaho!

Selway

Whitewater paddling Selway River

Great for off the grid, white water paddling; Selway is not to be missed by adrenaline junkies on a SUP! Inflatable paddle boards are perfect for river paddling. The military-grade PVC is tough and durable, handling the adventure downstream.

Make sure you pop in the smaller river fins just in case water levels get shallow, and we also recommend wearing a PFD and helmet for extra protection. For first timers to white water paddle boarding, try converting your SUP with a kayak seat conversion kit to help you feel the water and keep your balance.

Snake River

SUP fishing at Snake River

Snake River is extremely popular with anglers, so why not combine the two sports and give SUP fishing a go here! This spot gets popular from late Spring, and there are outlets available to rent SUP gear from.

From here, you can take on an expedition paddles to one of the following hotspots:

  • Shoshone Falls– 6-mile paddle from Centennial Park (Snake River) with sections where you may have to lift your SUP out of the water to access the next section. Allow 6 hours, there and back, and pack plenty of water in your dry bags!
  • Pillar Falls– 2-mile paddle from Centennial Park (Snake River), taking roughly 3 hours, there and back.

C.J. Strike Reservoir

CJ Strike Reservoir

C.J. Strike Reservoir is a family-friendly fishing spot that is open all year round. To cast a line here, you must have a valid fishing license. Species you’ll find here include crappie, bass, catfish, perch, rainbow trout, and sturgeon among others.

There are camping facilities available, and the best place to launch your SUP is the southside of the reservoir, close to the boat ramp.

Deadwood Reservoir

Scenic Deadwood Reservoir

A place for nature lovers, Deadwood Reservoir is vibrant and full of life. A slightly more remote location, so you’ll get the added bonus of a scenic drive. There are places for camping if you want to make an overnight stay part of your paddle boarding experience.

Deadwood Reservoir is an ideal place to paddle board with your dog! The waters are calm, allowing them to gain confidence with you.

Places to Rent SUP Gear in Boise 

Haven’t got your own SUP yet? No worries! The best thing about paddle boarding close to Boise is the great selection of rental outlets providing quality gear, and even stand up paddle boarding lessons.

Paddle Boarding the Sawtooth Mountains

Escape to the wild Sawtooth Mountains, home to world class hiking trails, fishing lakes, and ski slopes. With picturesque alpine lakes to explore, it’s no wonder people are flocking here with their SUPs.

Alice Lake

Emerald water Alice Lake

If you like to escape the crowds then there’s no better place than Alice Lake. This alpine beauty is 8,600 meters above sea level, and you’ll need to hike a trail to get here. But once you reach the lakeshore you’ll be greeted by breathtaking views and emerald waters.

It’s best to visit Alice Lake in the summer months otherwise you’re likely to have patches of ice on the water. Fishing is popular here, so make sure you follow the catch and release policy to help the sustainability projects in the area.

Redfish Lake

Crystal clear water Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake is quite rightly named after the salmon population found here, which are strictly off limits to fishing. Again, this alpine lake offers crystal clear waters for you to gently cruise over in perfect paddle boarding conditions.

There is a beach and a boat ramp for easy SUP launching. Some people manage their visit to Redfish Lake as a day trip, but there are camping facilities nearby for anyone who wants to make a full weekend of it.

Places to Rent SUP Gear in the Sawtooth Mountains

Need to hire some SUP gear while exploring the Sawtooth Mountains? How about a guided tour while you’re here? Check out these top recommendations for the area.

Places to Paddle Board in Northern Idaho

Northern Idaho is famous for its impressive tree-covered mountains and stunning lakes. Explore the number of state parks by SUP and fall in love with incredible Idaho.

Lake Pend Oreille

Idaho gem Lake Pend Oreille

An Idaho gem for all the SUP fishing enthusiasts out there! Lake Pend Oreille is the fifth deepest lake in the United States and one of the best places to take it easy with a rod while stand up paddle boarding.

With beaches and plenty of boat ramps to launch from, accessing Lake Pend Oreille could not be any easier. The lakeside town Sandpoint is a good spot to paddle to for a bite to eat and a refuel before heading back.

Priest Lake

Mirror water Priest Lake State Park

Priest Lake State Park is a place you definitely want to visit when you’re in Idaho. This place is great for wildlife lovers to explore. The spectacular scenery is in every direction you look; alpine forests cover mountainsides cascading down to the mirror-like waters.

There are several campsites on the northern shore around Lionhead, perfect for a SUP weekend getaway. Make sure to set your alarm one morning to catch the sunrise over the lake!

Lake Coeur d'Alene

Fabulous Lake Coeur d’Alene

And of course, there is the fabulous Lake Coeur d’Alene – a state treasure of natural beauty! This lake stretches 25-miles and provides one of the most peaceful locations to paddle board in Idaho.

Northside of the lake is the resort city of Coeur d’Alene. This area is a popular spot for tourists in the summer as other fun-seekers head north. Lake Coeur d’Alene is a perfect spot for SUP yoga, thanks to the perfectly flat water and sheltered shorelines around the lake.

Places to Rent SUP Gear in Northern Idaho

Having an iSUP in your collection is ideal for traveling. But don’t worry if you can’t take your paddle board on your Northern Idaho adventure. There are plenty of places to rent SUPs from at the main paddling spots.

Places to Paddle Board in Eastern Idaho

Head east to explore the areas of Idaho that touch upon the famous Yellowstone National Park. With spectacular views all around, it’s safe to say these stand up paddle boarding locations will not disappoint!

Bear Lake

Caribbean waters Bear Lake

Bear Lake State Park is Idaho’s answer to crystal clear Caribbean waters. The emerald colors will leave you mesmerized as you cruise along on your SUP. For the calmest conditions, it’s best to head out in the early morning to avoid any winds coming in across the lake.

You can launch your paddle board for free from Garden City Park Beach. Or choose to head round to the west shore and find a quiet sandy beach all to yourself.

As you make your way to Bear Lake, plan some time to stop off at the Hot Springs en route. These natural springs are just outside Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve.

Henry's Lake

Yellowstone National Park Henry's Lake

Henry’s Lake is a gateway to Yellowstone National Park, which is located only 15 miles away. The waters at this 6,000 acre lake are rich and full of life, you’ll be able to see fish swimming below you as you paddle across the lake!

Henry’s Lake State Park also offers fantastic hiking trails, camping sites, and wildlife viewing. Any trip here will leave you with memories to last a lifetime! There isn’t a SUP rental store at this state park, however, you can rent from the nearby stores at Island Park.

Places to Rent SUP Gear in Eastern Idaho

Getting out on the water in eastern Idaho couldn’t be easier! Head to one of these SUP rental stores if you haven’t been able to buy your own SUP yet.

Interactive Map

FAQ’S

🏆 Where can you paddle board in Idaho?

Idaho is full of some of the most incredible paddle board destinations in the country! With breathtaking views and alpine panoramics, almost any body of water provides a spectacular experience. Some of the more popular locations to paddle board in Idaho include the Boise River and Lake Coeur d’Alene. 


👍 Do you have to register a paddle board in Idaho?

You are not required to register a paddle board in Idaho. State law only requires that you register motorized vessels. 


🏝️ Where can I paddle board in Boise?

There are several locations in Boise where you can paddle board. The Boise River is a popular choice that is easily accessible from the downtown district. However, if you are happy to drive out of the city for a couple of hours you can discover the Payette, the Salmon, and some incredible reservoirs to paddle.


❓ Can you paddle board the Snake River?

Yes, you can paddle board the Snake River, however, it’s not the most beginner-friendly location in Idaho. Make sure you are experienced and comfortable with handling rough whitewater. The river can get shallow in places, so it’s best to get advice from the locals.


📦 Where can I paddle board near Idaho Falls?

Snake River directly passes through Idaho Falls. You’ll be able to find launch sites along the river and enjoy a leisurely float. Other great spots not that far away include Bear Lake or Island Park.


📦 Where can I paddle board in Twin Falls Idaho?

From Twin Falls you can access Snake River. The best place to launch your SUP from is the Centennial Waterfront Park. From here, you can take on paddle expeditions to discover Shoshone Falls and Pillar Falls, two incredible places to paddle board in Idaho.

Abi Leach
Abi Leach

Surfer, paddle boarder, and ocean lover. She loves traveling and discovering new destinations all across the world. When she's not writing, she's exploring the outdoors and enjoying fresh air.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.