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October 11, 2021 10 min read

Where Can You Paddle Board In Washington State?

With dramatic views and landscapes to take your breath away, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve been transported to a fantasy realm when visiting Washington State. From rugged coasts to secret caves, snow-capped mountains, and ice-blue glacier waters, this really is a dream location for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. So let’s talk paddle boarding in Washington!

It’s important to keep in mind that Washington state law requires all vessels, including SUPs, to have at least one properly fitted USCG-approved PFD. You won’t even know you’re wearing one when using the best SUP safety life jackets.

Stay near Washington’s urban areas and explore the waters of the Puget Sound, or head further afield to discover the remote San Juan Islands and beyond. Washington State offers some of the best paddle boarding destinations in the country.

So whether you’re looking for a lake or a river to paddle, or maybe you fancy ticking off a National Park with your iSUP, here are 25 of the best places to paddle in board Washington. Let us know which is your favorite!

SUP In Seattle Area

Are you local to Seattle? Perhaps you’ve only got a couple of days in the city and want to keep your trip nearby. There are plenty of places to paddle board in Seattle that will let you unwind, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Lake Union

Two women paddle boarding in lake union

Right in the heart of Seattle city is Lake Union. Paddle boarding in Lake Union is one of the best things to do in Seattle, offering a quickly accessed spot for anyone in the city.

You can launch your stand up paddle board from the Sunnyside boat ramp on the north side of the lake. There are plenty of coffee shops and takeaways in the area to grab a post-paddle breakfast on your way to the office. Or stop off at one of the many restaurants for a tasty feast after a sunset session.

Lake Union is the most popular place to paddle board in Seattle because of its central location. Here, you’ll meet other SUP paddlers and maybe even get to join in with a social SUP yoga session on the weekend mornings.

Discovery Park

Lighthouse at Discovery Park WA

Discovery Park is a 20-minute drive from Seattle and offers a perfect escape for stand up paddle boarding. From here, you can paddle out onto the Puget Sound, Seattle’s famous waterbody, just watch out for the boat traffic.

The best place to launch your SUP from is at West Point Lighthouse. Car parking is relatively close to the water, so you can inflate your inflatable paddle board using an electric SUP pump almost on the water's edge.

Shilshole Bay

Yacht docked at Shilshole Bay WA

The adventurous can reach Shilshole Bay from Discovery Park by trekking with their iSUP in a reliable paddle board backpack. Check out Surfer’s Beach at the point to try your paddle at catching some waves.

Alternatively, you can drive up to the marina and boatyard. There are several Shilshole Bay beach access points to launch your paddle board from. Again, just be cautious of any boat traffic as this is a popular marina for yachts and other vessels.

Alki Beach Park

Alki beach park overview seattle skyline

Alki Beach Park, in West Seattle, is a popular spot in the summer months for families and beachgoers. The pebbled shoreline and calm waters are perfect for kids to play safely, and for beginners to learn how to paddle board.

If you’re in need of gear or fancy a guided tour of West Seattle, head to Alki Kayak Tours on Harbor Ave SW. From here, you get one of the best views of the city, so make sure you pack a waterproof camera to snap a shot for the memory books!

Lake Washington

Crystal clear water of Lake Washington

Lake Washington is the main body of water that dominates Seattle, dwarfing the neighboring Lake Union. This is a freshwater lake with an astounding 88 km2 surface area.

Sticking south and close to the city you can launch from Seward Park, a safe and beginner friendly paddle boarding location. The more experienced paddler can try to paddle around Mercer Island. From here you get unreal views of snow-capped Mt Rainier in the distance.

Juanita Beach Park

Sunset at Juanita beach park washington

Juanita Beach Park is a fantastic place for families to enjoy paddle boarding together. The safe and calm waters in the protected area are perfect for learning how to balance and mastering the skill of paddling.

This spot is still on Lake Washington, but on the north-east side in the Kirkland region. It’s only a 20-minute drive out of Seattle's center.

SUP In Washington Parks

Washington is blessed with nature. There are many parks and locations of natural beauty that offer fantastic paddling opportunities for SUP lovers. Get out of the city and immerse yourself in nature.

Lake Sammamish State Park

Calm water Lake Sammamish WA

Less than an hour out from Seattle is Lake Sammamish State Park. Perfect for beginners with calm flat water, and an ideal place to escape for a quick weekend getaway, Lake Sammamish is tranquil and completely relaxing.

Hit the water with your SUP from Greenwood Point and paddle over the sunken forest, a unique natural phenomenon for this park. If the cold doesn’t bother you, then head here for a stunning winter paddle with snow covered trees lining the lakeshore.

Deception Pass State Park

Deception pass state park Washington

Deception Pass State Park is one of the most famous points of interest in Washington State. With rugged coastlines, mysterious coves, and a world-famous bridge suspended over the water. It's no wonder why this area is so highly visited.

You’re likely to see a whole array of wildlife here, including whales and seals. However, this isn’t a spot for everyone. The currents can be strong in this strait between Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands, best left for the more experienced and adventurous paddler. Keep up to date with notices from the official Deception Pass State Park site.

Blake Island Marine State Park

Paddle boarders at Blake island marine state park

Are you keen to cast a line and give SUP fishing a try? Blake Island Marine State Park may be the spot for you! You have to take a boat to access this State Park, and camping spaces are limited. Trust us though, this is a fantastic place to explore in the Puget Sound waters and well worth the journey getting there.

Olympic National Park

Mt. Olympus, Olympic National Park Washington

As well as the snow-capped mountains of Mt. Olympus, the Olympic National Park offers some incredible waters to take a paddle board. Make sure you check out:

  • Lake Crescent, a very clear glacial lake on the park’s north side
  • Lake Ozette, the third-largest lake in Washington for a challenge
  • Lake Quinault and Lake Cushman, both on the park’s south side under forest canopies

Explore the wilderness shores, discover the local wildlife, and fall in love with the Olympic National Park on your paddle board.

Dry Falls State Park

Dry falls state park WA

Dry Falls State Park offers a truly unique experience for paddle boarders. Head to Deep Lake for a super fun day on the water with lava cliffs stretching the length of the lake.

Just watch out for the wind picking up from the south that could make your paddle back more challenging.

Lyons Ferry State Park

Lyons ferry state park Washington

If you’re over east in Washington then check out Lyons Ferry State Park for a SUP session. The tree-shaded lawns gently slope down to the cool waters. You’ve got two rivers to explore: Snake River and Palouse rivers.

This is a popular spot for weekend camping, anglers, and hikers. However, despite its popularity, it rarely feels busy or overcrowded.

SUP In San Juan Islands

Head to the San Juan Islands for world-class whale watching, unreal hiking, cozy lodges, and unbelievable paddle boarding experiences. If you are after somewhere special to paddle, this is where you need to be heading.

Across all of the San Juan islands, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for orca pods and seals resting on the rocks. The wildlife here is abundant and magical.

Stuart Island

Stuart Island San Juan Washington

Stuart Island is the most remote and wild island in the San Juan’s. Friday Harbor or Roche Harbor are good places to start your paddling journey. There is a pleasant 7-mile paddle route heading east to Spieden Island. Just watch out for the changing currents and tides in this channel, probably better suited for the more experienced paddler.

There are several campsites on Stuart Island with plenty of hiking trails to explore in between SUP sessions. While visiting, definitely check out Turn Point Lighthouse, with views across the forest and Mount Baker in the distance.

Orcas Island

Orcas Island San Juan Washington

Orcas Island is a slightly more accessible option in the San Juan area for an adventure. There are a good few rental stores across the island organizing gear hire and guided tours of the island.

Point Doughty State Park and Obstruction State Park offer fantastic beaches, paddling routes, and camping facilities. It is first come, first served though, so make sure you arrive early so as not to be disappointed.

SUP River Locations In Washington

Paddle boarding rivers can be a rush! Make sure you’ve got your river fins set and check out some of the best rivers to SUP in Washington.

Wenatchee River

Wenatchee river leavenworth washington

Wenatchee River is fantastic fun for all the family – you can even paddle board with your dog here! Best accessed from Leavenworth, the river is calm and gentle, perfect for a hot summer's day float.

Check out Leavenworth Outdoor Center to join a guided paddle board tour and organize SUP rental to explore the Wenatchee River. Leavenworth is a Bavarian-themed town and is a great place to stay for a weekend getaway with loads of unique things to do.

Columbia River

Columbia river Northwest Washington

Columbia River is one of the best places to SUP in the northwest. Set in a gorge, the winds can pick up enough to create some pretty impressive waves along the river – local experienced paddle boarders are often seen trying their hand at SUP surfing.

But don’t worry. It’s not always windy! The water can also provide perfectly calm conditions. When paired with the spectacular views, there is nowhere better to have an adventure.

Yakima River Canyon

Yakima river canyon ellenburg Washington

A secret gem of the state, the Yakima River Canyon is a deep, winding wilderness located south of Ellensburg. Paddling routes vary in length, from 9-miles to 19-miles. Access is best from Ringer, but there are campsites all along the river.

SUP Lake Locations In Washington

Colchuck lake crystal clear water

Washington is blessed with several lakes to explore, perfect for paddle board adventures. The impressive mountain range dominates the horizon. Alpine forests surround the glacier-blue water. This is what the northwest is all about.

  • Lake Wenatchee– the iconic destination of the northwest, Lake Wenatchee is 5-miles long with clear blue water. Perfect for beginners, children, and anyone looking for a gentle paddle.
  • Colchuck Lake– sitting between two of Washington’s tallest peaks is this alpine gem. With crystal clear water and an impressive 8-mile hiking trail looping around the lake, this spot will definitely make you feel as if you’ve been teleported to a new world.
  • Lake Chelan– surrounded by apple orchards, located in a rich valley, Lake Chelan offers traditional Washington vibes and calm waters. The sandy shores of the lake are perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying a peaceful day.
  • Lake Roosevelt– a 3-hour drive from Spokane, Lake Roosevelt’s shores are rich with history and cultural significance. There are several campsites around the area with easy lake access ideal to launch your SUP from.
  • Lake Crescent– located within the Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent has iconic blue waters. We recommend heading to Fairholm Beach on the west side for the best place to launch your paddle board into the water.
  • Lake Lenore– known for basalt caves seen in the cliffs above the lake, Lake Lenore is a unique place to stand up paddle board in Washington. The alkaline-rich water provides ideal conditions to find Cutthroat Trout, which you can fish on a catch and release system.
  • Baker Lake– located north of the state, Baker Lake is surrounded by ancient forests and spectacular views. Even in the summer months the temperatures are cool, so make sure you prepare your SUP clothing and gear appropriately.

SUP Rental Companies in Washington

Haven’t got your own SUP yet? No problem. There are plenty of SUP rental companies across Washington that you can rent a board from or even organize guided tours to discover more of this Pacific Northwest gem.

Top Tips For Paddle Boarding Washington

Man fishing using inflatable paddle boards

Paddle boarding in Washington is fantastic. If you’re in the area, you should make the time to grab a SUP and check out the spectacular SUP spots mentioned above. Here are some top tips to help you get the most out of your watery adventure:

  • Wear a personal flotation device (PFD). Washington State law requires all vessels to have a USCG-approved PFD on board.
  • Use a leash for extra safety.
  • Watch out for boats and traffic on the water when paddling near marinas.
  • Dress appropriately for the water temperature. This may mean you need to wear a wetsuit in Fall or Spring months.
  • Check with the appropriate State Parks if you need to pay entry fees to paddle on the water. You may also need a permit to fish.
  • Remember to pack a camera! The views are awesome, and you’ll kick yourself if you can’t snap a photo of your adventure.

Interactive Map

Summary

So, can you paddle board in Washington? Hell yes! Washington has some truly epic places to take a SUP. From rivers and lakes, to shorelines and islands, paddle boarding these waters will be an experience like no other. 

Whether you decide to stay urban and paddle board around Seattle, or take your adventure off the beaten path, you’re guaranteed spectacular views and an escape into nature. 

No matter what your paddle boarding experience level is, you’ll be able to find your perfect place to paddle. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you out on the 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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