March 23, 2022 9 min read

Where To Paddle Board In Minnesota?

River near minneapolis

Are you thinking about paddle boarding in Minnesota? Do you need help finding some of the best places to paddle? We’ve got you covered! There are so many incredible places to SUP in Minnesota you’ll be spoilt for choice. 

Minnesota is affectionately known as the ‘State of 10,000 Lakes’. In fact, there are over 14,000 lakes across the northern state, the most famous being Lake Itasca. And yes, you can stand up paddle board there!

Why not explore the arts and culture scene, visit the science museums, or explore the enchanting forests in between paddles. Minnesota is ideal for intrepid outdoor folks who love being amongst nature and hoping to wet their paddles. 

Keep up to date with river levels and safety information directly from the Department of Natural Resources. You may need to register your SUP gear before entering some of the state park waters, but we’ll talk you through that process within this article. Here are the best places you can paddle board in Minnesota!

Best SUP Locations Near Minneapolis

Minneapolis is one of the major cities in Minnesota. It’s paired with the state capital, St Paul, referred to as “Twin Cities”. Minneapolis is best known for its lakes and parklands across the urban space. 

The Chain of Lakes

Man canoeing on the chain of lakes in minnesota

Just 15 minutes away from downtown Minneapolis is a paddle boarding haven. A 13-mile circuit of interconnected lakes will transport you from the bustling city scenes and leave you mesmerized. Paddling the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis is a must-do on a sunny day. Take the family for a day out or enjoy it solo.

Lake Calhoun has free car parking and is a great place to launch your SUP into the water. Expect to spend at least 4 hours on the water to paddle the entire circuit. Otherwise, you can make your session as long or as short as you’d like. The conditions are perfect for beginners and families to stand up paddle board.

Lake Minnetonka

Lake Minnetonka is perfect for rookie paddle boarders to take to the water and practice their skills. The conditions are generally calm,and there is plenty of space for everyone to spread out. With 16 miles of shoreline and over 30 different bays tucked away, you’re guaranteed to have fun exploring the lake. 

Weekends can get crowded as people flock here from the Twin Cities. The best season to take your SUP is summer so you can soak up the Minnesota sunshine. SUP yoga is popular on this lake. You can launch your paddle board from nearby towns, all with pay meter parking lots: Wayzata, Excelsior, and Minnetrista.  

Cuyuna Mine Lakes

Cuyuna mines lake

The mine lakes are nestled in Minnesota’s hills, protected from strong winds by tall trees making it perfect for those learning how to paddle board. Cuyuna’s Mine Lakes are deep and full of fish. If you want to try out SUP fishing, this could be the place for you!

Christmas Lake

Christmas lake in minnesota

Christmas Lake is one of the smaller lakes in the area, so it’s a great spot if you only have a couple of hours to spend out on the water. The water is spring-fed, so the clarity is superb! Motorized boats are allowed on this lake, so be aware and courteous of other people.

St. Croix River – Taylor's Falls and Stillwater

Taylor's fall at st. croix river in minnesota

St. Croix River is an ideal place for a full-day trip. Just be warned, this is not a beginner-friendly location; the currents can be strong. If you’re comfortable paddling on moving water, then you definitely need to head here. 

Two of the best places to access and paddle the St. Croix River are Taylor’s Fallsand Stillwater. The waters around Stillwater are slightly calmer. There are SUP rental stores in both towns. 

We always recommend using inflatable paddle boards when paddling rivers. The tough military-grade PVC gives you peace of mind as you bump into rocks and tree roots in the varying water depths. Our GILI Air iSUP is perfect for exploring rivers. 

Lake Superior

Duluth harbor at lake superior

Lake Superior is one of the most iconic destinations near Minneapolis. This great lake shares shores with Michigan and Canada. The immense waters can change suddenly with winds picking up out of nowhere, so we don’t recommend beginners tackle this spot until they are confident on their SUP. 

Launch your SUP from Duluth Harbor. From here you can access the Tettegouche caves, which you can explore by SUP on calm days. 

Medicine Lake

Calm water of medicine lake

Medicine Lake is just 15 minutes from the Minneapolis center. This is a great place to escape into nature for an afternoon. The water is typically calm, and you’ll be able to meet other like-minded people out on the water. 

Around the lake are some fantastic hiking trails and biking routes as well. Parking is free, and there are several suitable launch sites around the lake for SUP users. 

Best SUP Locations To Paddle Board The Mississippi River

The great Mississippi River carves through Minnesota, flowing through the Twin Cities before continuing south to feed the rest of the USA. Paddle boarding the Mississippi is a bucket list thing to do, and you can tick that off here in Minnesota!

Root River

Root river in minnesota

Root River is a couple of hours south of Minneapolis and a tributary of the Mississippi River. This is a super scenic and peaceful place to enjoy a weekend away filled with camping and paddle boarding. Make sure you prepare your gear appropriately with SUP river fins in case you encounter shallow water. 

Lake Winona

peaceful, calm and quiet winona lake

Located between the Mississippi River and hills of Winona village is Lake Winona. It’s peaceful, calm, and quiet, making it an ideal place to take a paddle board. This urban lake has sandy beaches, picnic benches, and playground areas. It’s perfect for family days out on the water. 

Hidden Falls Park, St Paul

The Hidden Falls Park is beautiful and serene. Complete with picnic areas and amenities, this is a great place for a family day out. However, this section of the river can be challenging at times, so be sure to stay within your limits and capabilities. 

5 Best Minnesota State Park SUP Locations

Minnesota is blessed with some of the most beautiful state parks in the country. Many of these parks have serene lakes and waterways, perfect for taking a SUP and immersing yourself in the breathtaking nature. 

Remember, you need to register your paddle boards and other water vessels before paddling in Minnesota’s State Parks.

Registering your SUP to Paddle Board The State Parks

You are required to register your SUP if your paddle board is over ten feet long. You can register your board at any deputy registrar of motor vehicles (where you license your car) or at the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) License Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

You need the following information at the ready to register your SUP/vessel:

  • Length
  • Manufacturer
  • Type of hull material (wood, metal, or plastic)
  • Type of propulsion (paddle)
  • Model
  • Year
  • Serial or hull identification number (HIN), (if it has one)
  • You'll also need to show a sales receipt that shows you have paid the sales tax

Once you’re registered then there’s no stopping you! Remember to always be courteous to other people out on the water. Check weather conditions before heading out on the lakes to ensure your safety while paddle boarding. 

Itasca State Park

Autumn trees near Itasca state park

Itasca State Park contains the headwater of the great Mississippi River. One of the best places to paddle board here is Lake Itasca, a small glacial lake in Clearwater County. 

Don’t worry if you don’t have your own SUP gear yet. Head over to Itasca Sports to rent top-quality paddle boarding equipment. They also run a Paddle Fit class every Friday throughout the summer! Time to work on your core and improve your paddling skills while having fun on the water.

Sibley State Park

Yellow canoe at sibley state park

Sibley State Park has an insane amount of interconnected lakes and waterways making it a paddle boarders dream destination. You can spend all day exploring the park, never crossing your own path. Andrew Lakeis the key place people head to in this central Minnesota State Park. 

Glendalough State Park

Safe and calm waters of glendalough state park

Glendalough State Park is perfect for families with safe and calm waters. You don’t need to own your own SUP gear, you can rent equipment within the park. This is a great place to give SUP fishing a go too!

Split Rock Creek State Park

Split rock creek state park

Split Rock Creek State Park is less than 15 minutes away from Pipestone and has the largest lake in the area. This is a popular spot in the summer for swimmers to take a refreshing dip in the water. We highly recommend taking your dog for a ride here as there are no boats or motorized vessels in this area. 

Read More: How To Paddle Board With Your Dog

Bear Head Lake State Park

Bear head lake state park

Bear Head Lake State Park is a staggering 4,373-acres not too far from the Canadian border. If you want somewhere to escape and get off the grid, this is the place for you. The large Bear Lake is surrounded by pine trees, majestic granite cliffs, and 17 miles of hiking trails. 

Keep your eyes peeled for a whole array of wildlife, from the tiny hummingbird to black bears. There are campgrounds and paddle board rentals available directly from the State Park, so there are no worries if you can’t take your SUP gear with you.  

More Minnesota State Parks To Explore By SUP

The fun doesn’t stop there! Minnesota is full of incredible state parks that are perfect for weekend escapes and exploring by SUP. 

All of these have fantastic waterways and lakes, as well as paddle board rental direct from the state park recreation centers:

  • Big Bog State Recreation Area
  • Camden State Park
  • Glacial Lakes State Park
  • Lake Shetek State Park
  • McCarthy Beach State Park
  • Myre Big Island State Park
  • Sakatah Lake State Park
  • Scenic State Park

Stand Up Paddle Board Rental Stores In Minnesota

Haven’t got your own stand up paddle board yet? No stress! Minnesota has plenty of SUP rental stores around, so you can still get your water time. 

Here are some top Minnesota paddle board rental store recommendations:

Note: Many outfitters close for the winter season due to cold temperatures, and the season will begin again in Spring.  

Interactive Map

FAQ’S

🏆 Do I need to register my paddle board in Minnesota?

If you plan to paddle any lakes or waterways within the State Parks of Minnesota, then you need to register your paddle board – assuming it’s over 10 feet in length. To do this, you can go to any deputy registrar of motor vehicles (where you license your car), or at the DNR License Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. 


👍 Am I required to wear a PFD when paddle boarding in Minnesota?

Minnesota regulations require there to be a USCG approved life jacket, either worn or on board, for each person. Children younger than 10 years old must wear a properly fitted lifejacket at all times when out on the water. 


🏝️ Can I paddle board on the Mississippi River?

Yes, you can paddle board on the Mississippi River! Root River, Lake Winona, and Hidden Falls Park in St. Paul are three excellent places to take a SUP and conquer the waters of the Mississippi. Just be cautious that this river has strong currents and fast moving water in places. It is best left to the more experienced paddle boarders. 


❓ Where is the best place for beginners to paddle board in Minnesota?

Beginner paddle boarders should check out the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis. Lake Calhoun, in particular has ideal conditions for rookies to learn the basics, get confident with their balance, and start paddling across the flat water.

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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