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December 01, 2021 9 min read

Where to paddle board in Alaska

Tracy Arm Glacier Alaska

Alaska is the most northwestern state in the US and one of the most magical places to paddle board in the world. Rich in natural beauty, wildlife, and snowy mountain peaks; the large coastlines and impressive lakes make Alaska worth visiting with a stand up paddle board.

As a landmass, Alaska is incredibly diverse, with varying elevations to explore. There are over 1-million lakes, ranging from sea level to 1000m above! Inflatable paddle boards come into their element here. Simply deflate and pack them away for hiking the trails to find jaw-dropping paddle board locations in Alaska.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your paddle board (and your wetsuit!) and discover the beauty within these huge national parks and monumental glaciers. Pure, raw, and unforgiving – Alaska is a wild frontier of civilization with little cell phone coverage, so be prepared for a real adventure.

SUP Locations in Alaska: Interior 

Alaska’s interior is the states heartland, with wide expanses of tundra and forests teeming with wildlife. Experience winter’s northern lights or summer’s midnight sun while exploring the remote national parks and solitary roads.

Wonder Lake, Denali National Park

Wonder Lake at Denali National Park

Denali national park is one of the top places to visit in Alaska. There is just one road, running east to west. Wonder Lake is at the 85th-mile marker, 85 miles from the park entrance.

Wonder Lake is an iconic destination with incredible views all around. There is a whole array of wildlife to be seen while paddle boarding the lake. Just be warned, there are mosquitoes in the summer months, so bring some bug spray!

There are campgrounds and lodges in the area for you to make your trip into a weekend getaway.

SUP Locations in Alaska: Southcentral

The southcentral region of Alaska is the most populated part of the state. As an outdoor playground, there is everything from world-class fishing to hiking and wildlife viewing. Explore all the advantages of remote wilderness over mountains and lakes, but with the extra benefit of good road links.

Kenai Lake

Kenai Lake great fishing grounds

Kenai Lake is 5,590 hectares and offers great fishing opportunities. If you want to try SUP fishing, there is no better place to cast your line and give it a go. There are also four great campgrounds on the lakeshore, and some more basic sites dotted around the woodland.

The views are to die for. It’s a true escape into nature, but still easily accessible. Anyone who loves big open spaces and wants to avoid crowds on the water will love paddle boarding Kenai Lake.

Skilak Lake

Skilak lake melted glacier water

Skilak Lake is in the heart of Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, west of Kenai’s main lake. The melted glacier water is crystal clear, and the banks are fringed with the surrounding alpine forest, perfect for an off-the-grid paddle boarding trip.

It’s a 30-minute drive from Soldotna with access down a small road off Sterling highway. There are several hiking trails that weave around Skilak Lake, giving you different vantage points over the water.

Eklutna Lake

Eklutna Lake accessed via Chugach State Park

Eklutna Lake is just 35km from Anchorage, accessed via Chugach State Park. This SUP destination is fantastic for family vacations. There are over 50 campsites in the area and the water is safe for beginners to give paddle boarding a go.

The campgrounds are open year-round, however, paddle boarding is best enjoyed from Spring to Fall. In the winter months, this area turns into a ski and snowmobile haven!

Bear Glacier, Seward

Bear at glacier lagoon

Bear Glacier Lagoon is the perfect playground for cold water lovers. This is the best place to paddle board alongside icebergs, taking in all the natural beauty that surrounds the water. This lagoon is only 12 miles away from Seward.

Be warned this is not a place for beginners. Bear Glacier is best left to the more experienced paddle boarders with a guide. Knowledge of the area is vital for safe paddling. There are parts exposed to the Gulf of Alaska thatcreate ocean-like conditions along one section of the lagoon beach.

Kachemak Bay

Scenic view Kachemak Bay

Kachemak Bay is a truly special and unique gem tucked away in Alaska. Accessing these waters is only possible via air or water taxi. The bay has a varied coastline creating a diverse ecosystem in the water and on the surrounding land.

Much of Kachemak Bay freezes over in the winter months. Paddle boarding here is best in the summer months.

SUP Locations in Alaska: Southwest

The natural wonders of southwest Alaska will captivate every naturalist and outdoors lover. Brown bears are a common sighting along with over 200 species of birds to identify. These waters offer some of the greatest paddle boarding locations in Alaska.

Lake Clark

Lake clark national park and reserve

The Lake Clark National Park and Reserve is one of the most popular lakes in the United States. More than 22,000 visitors come to soak up the awe-inspiring views across Lake Clark. Access isn’t the easiest, but that’s all part of the adventure!

Inflatable paddle boards have great portability and compatibility convenience, ideal to travel of seaplane or water taxi. Once reaching the magnificent Lake Clark, you can camp, paddle, and hike, taking in all this incredible place has to offer. You may even be lucky enough to share the waters with a bear or two!

Iliamna Lake

Largest lake in Alaska, Iliamna Lake

Iliamna Lake is the largest lake in Alaska and the second largest in the USA. With over 300,000 hectares of water to explore, it’s safe to say you can see something new every visit with your paddle board.

Fishing is life here for the six small towns on Ilamnia’s shores. This is a great place for SUP fishing. However, a local myth is that a giant black fish that bites holes in boats inhabits these waters, although never proved.

St. Augustine Island

Mount Augustine Volcano Island

Mount Augustine Volcano is one of the most restless volcanoes in the region, 70 miles west of Homer and 170 miles southwest of Anchorage. There have been nine eruptions since the 1930s, with the most recent eruption in 2006.

Join one of the magical paddle boarding tours with Ocean Swell Ventures from Homer around St. Augustine Island. This bucket list experience gives you some of the best views across the water to the active volcano.

Kodiak Island

Paddle boarding in Kodiak Island

Kodiak Island is often referred to as the Emerald Isle. The waters are stunning, with mountainous vistas rising up, offering a perfect habitat for some of the most diverse wildlife in Alaska.

Paddle boarding around Kodiak Island will leave you feeling empowered. No matter what your experience level is, you will be able to enjoy taking out a SUP here for a perfect weeks vacation. Remember to pack your camera!

SUP Locations in Alaska: Inside Passage

The Inside Passage of Alaska was shaped by enormous glaciers millions of years ago. Wildlife-filled fjords and lush island scenery make this one of the most beautiful places to paddle board in the world. There is a rich native heritage throughout the region, which is well worth discovering while here.

Mendenhall Lake

Scenic glacier at Mendenhall Lake

Mendenhall Lake is as beautiful as they come. Getting there is a scenic drive from Juneau via the Glacier highway and Mendenhall Loop Road, through the Tongass National Forest.

The lake is surrounded by coastal mountains, and the water is fed by a stunning glacier. It’s big and bold, and will leave an impression on your heart for years to come.

Auke Lake

Snow capped height of Mt. McGinnis, Auke Lake

The snow capped heights of Mt. McGinnis on the north shore of Auke Lake is one of the most photographed locations in Alaska. The waters are calm, perfect for paddle boarding or swimming for beginners.

Auke Lake is a great place to take your dog paddle boarding! Remember to get them fitted with a dog life jacket to keep them safe while exploring the water.

Endicott Arm, leading to Ford’s Terror

Glacier icebergs at Endicott Arm

Paddle boarding Endicott Arm is a once in a lifetime experience. You’ll navigate through glacial icebergs, surrounded by insane natural beauty, gliding over crystal clear waters.

The Alaska Wilderness Charters is a highly recommended tour operator for a luxurious paddle boarding and wilderness adventure experience.

Baranof Island, Red Bluff Bay

Red Bluff Bay of Baranof Island

Baranof Island in Red Bluff Bay is another fantastic gem of Alaska to paddle board. You can launch your stand up paddle board from Sitka Harbor. Be cautious of fishing boats and passenger ferries here.

SUP Locations in Alaska: Far North

The Far North of Alaska is where the Arctic circle touches land. Here, you’re well and truly in the final frontier where the wild is in control. Northern Alaska is full of rich history and natural wonders. Access to these communities is via plane from Fairbanks or Anchorage.

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the arctic national park and preserve

Strictly reserved for the most adventurous souls out there, the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is the least visited national park in the entire USA. Due to the remoteness, only the most experienced paddle boarders should attempt a trip here.

Be sure to make a solid plan for your trip and take some buddies for the adventure. There are wild rivers and untouched lakes fed with glacier water and home to incredible animals.

Obviously, there are no rental places around in the far north of Alaska. So you’ll need to prepare all your gear required for the trip, including appropriate clothing for the coldest of climates. Who knows what magical places to paddle board you’ll discover here!

SUP Rental Companies in Alaska

Even though Alaska is remote and off the beaten track, there are still plenty of paddle board rental stores and tour guides available to get you kitted up for an adventure. Make sure you take on board all the tips from the locals so you can discover the best places and have the most amount of fun!

Here are some of the best paddle board rental outlets in Alaska ready to provide you with top-quality SUP gear, lessons, and tours of the local areas:

Interactive Map

Summary

Where are you going to check out first? There are so many great places to paddle board in Alaska. And for each Alaska SUP location known and loved, there are countless more unknown hidden gems waiting to be discovered. 

Make sure you prepare well for the colder climate. Summer months are the best time to take a SUP to Alaska with average temperatures of around 65ºF. The water temperature remains very cold, and wetsuits are recommended just in case you fall into the cold water. 

FAQ’S

🏆 Where can you paddle board near Anchorage, Alaska?

Eklutna Lake is one of the best places to paddle board in Alaska and is only 35km away from Anchorage. This location is perfect for beginner paddle boarders to learn the basics on flat and calm waters. Check out Unravel SUP Yoga Travel for SUP yoga classes and other paddle board fitness groups in the Anchorage area.


👍 What is the best month to stand up paddle board in Alaska?

Late spring through to early fall is the best time to take your paddle board to Alaska’s glacier waters. Generally, Alaska is very cold! However, the summer months can be pleasant and mild at times, and the lakes are clear of ice, ready to launch paddle boards and kayaks


🏝️ What clothing do I need to wear to SUP in Alaska?

To paddle board in Alaska, you need to prepare your clothing well! A thick wetsuit, at least 6mm, or maybe even a drysuit, just in case you fall into the water. You may want to wear shoes to protect your feet from the cold waters, and gloves to keep your hands warm. Many people also wear wooly hats and scarves for additional warmth. 

You should also wear a well-fitted PFD / life jacket. This is a safety item that you’ll be grateful for in the unfortunate event of falling in the water and needing to swim or await rescue. Make sure the PFD is a bright color, with a light and a whistle so you can attract attention in an emergency.

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.


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