August Events at Western Slope SUP

This month we bring you a geology rafting tour, full moon paddle event, community paddle night, online deals and more!

Geology Rafting Tour


This month We team up with geologist Dr. Dave Noe of Colorado Detours for our final geology rafting tour of the summer. Local legend, Dr Noe, knows the geology of Delta County better than anyone. He himself mapped it for the Colorado Geological Survey during his 40-year career as a geologist. These days Dr. Noe enjoys nothing better than sharing his wealth of knowledge with attentive audiences.

This tour will follow 8 miles of the Gunnison River through the canyons of the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. We will stop along the way to examine ancient geology and archaeology. Dr. Noe will be your guide to the oldest house in Colorado, as he interprets the 13,000 year old human inhabitation of Eagle Rock Shelter.

Your raft will be rowed by local river running pioneer and owner of Western Slope SUP, Daniel Roman. Daniel brings 10 years of experience to the table to guarantee a smooth ride down the class I/II Gunnison River.

This full day tour includes transportation, guides, lunch, BLM fees and instruction.

Want to join the trip on a SUP? For a discounted rate you can paddle board along side the trip. You will be included in all the stops, side hikes and lunch, just without a seat in the raft.

This trip meets Saturday August 24th, 9:00 am at Western Slope SUP. 328 W Bridge St, Hotchkiss, CO

Geology Rafting Tour: $195
SUP add on: $115
Book by August 16th to receive $20 off the raft tour. Use code DAVENOES when you book online.

Full Moon SUP Event


Last months full moon paddle night was so much fun we are doing it again! Join us Wednesday August 14th at 8:00 pm at Crawford State Park for a night of paddling under the full moon. Rental boards will be available on-site at the Peninsula Boat Ramp, but must be reserved in advance to guarantee availability. Rentals will be available at 8:00 pm and are due back at 10:00 pm. Rental fee is $15. Rental includes board, paddle and PFD. All participants must bring a headlamp and $8.00 per vehicle park entrance fee. Rangers will be on duty for our safety, and to ensure that park regulations are being followed. Got your own board? Bring it! Need a rental? Reserve online or by calling (970) 872-2352

Community Paddle Night


Western Slope SUP will host community paddle night Wednesday August 14th from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm (before the full moon event). This is your chance to try out a paddle board FOR FREE! Spend the evening on the lake with friends and family, or bring something to grill and stick around for the full moon event later that night. The event takes place at the Crawford State Park Peninsula Boat Ramp. This event is free, but the park does require an $8.00 per vehicle entrance fee.

Get to Know our Local Rivers


When you think of river running destinations in Colorado, towns like Salida, Durango or Glenwood Springs come to mind. Classic runs like Browns Canyon, Shoshone, and the Royal Gorge have been taking clients to the edge for years. “Sledgehammer” (IV/V), “Raft Ripper” (III/IV) and “Upper Death” (VI) are etched into the minds of river running enthusiasts around Colorado. But who has ever heard to “The Ledges” (III) or “Paul’s Falls” (III)? Who has ever heard of Anthracite Creek?

The little town of Hotchkiss, Population 907, is relatively unknown outside of Colorado’s Western Slope. But as traditional vacation destinations around Colorado are becoming busy and crowded, more people are discovering our small, sunny town. One thing they are discovering here are the rivers: The Gunnison, North Fork of the Gunnison and Anthracite Creek. These three rivers offer the full gamut of experiences that river runners seek. From heart pounding whitewater on Anthracite Creek, to beginner level rapids on the North Fork, to a lazy float through the Canyons of the Gunnison, Hotchkiss has it all.

So far this year, Western Slope SUP has helped over 360 first timers discover these local rivers. The consensus is unanimous. There are some real gems here in Hotchkiss. Here are their bios:

The Gunnison River: The ultimate “not-so-lazy” river cuts an 8 mile desert canyon below the town of Hotchkiss. The water is predominantly calm and smooth, with a few fun splashy class I/II rapids thrown in. Fishing, tubing, kayaking and now stand up paddle are become popular in this natural playground.

Our stand up paddle tour on the Gunnison River. Great for first timers!

Our stand up paddle tour on the Gunnison River. Great for first timers!

North Fork of the Gunnison: This 33 mile long river begins in the pine forested West Elk Mountains and ends in spectacular desert canyons. It flows through the towns of Somerset, Paonia and Hotchkiss. Along the way it features continuous gradient, which means exciting class I-III rapids from start to finish, including the half mile long “Ledges” section between Paonia and Hotchkiss. The scenery in the North Fork Gorge, below Hotchkiss cannot be beat. The gorge is home to dripping springs, waterfalls and fascinating geologic formations.

High water on the North Fork of the Gunnison River

High water on the North Fork of the Gunnison River

Anthracite Creek: This raging creek is a tributary of the North Fork. The six mile section which we raft, features continuous class II/III whitewater. There is no adventure in our area, on or off the river, more extreme than a raft trip on Anthracite.

A wild ride on Anthracite Creek.

A wild ride on Anthracite Creek.

Western Slope SUP offers guided tours on all three of these local rivers. The North Fork and Anthracite Creek generally run during the months of May and June only, while the Gunnison is boatable every day of the year. Though our tours are suitable for beginners, only experienced, highly competent boaters should attempt to run these rivers without a guide. Want to learn more about our rivers? Call or email WSSUP any time!

2019 Internship Program

Class of 2017

Class of 2017

This year we have a goal: Expose the youth of Delta County to the natural wonders in their own back yard. What better way to do that than train them as river guides? We have designed a comprehensive 9 day training course specifically designed for graduating seniors. During this training, new guides will learn stand up paddle, whitewater rafting, river rescue, hydrology, how to instruct and guide trips, outdoor cooking, and much more. This course will span 3 of our local rivers, and include a 3 day overnight trip.

The North Fork of the Gunnison River flows through the heart of our community, but to many it is off limits due to lack of equipment, knowledge and experience. The Gunnison and Colorado Rivers are also with in a short drive, but equally out of reach for those who unfamiliar with wild rivers. This program will begin to remove the barriers to these amazing local resource

Anyone who has been through river guide training can tell you that it is a challenge that demands all you have, and sometimes more. Whitewater rivers are truly wild places. Upon first entering this environment, these rivers appear as foreboding beasts with lives of their own, and they are. But trainees will learn their secrets and intricacies, swim through whitewater, and conquer their own fears. In the end, many river guides become more comfortable on the river than off of it.

If you meet one of our 2019 trainees on your next trip with Western Slope SUP, ask them how it went. I’m sure they will have some great stories for you.

Class of 2018

Class of 2018

New Years Day on the River


This year the SUP crew instigated a new western slope tradition: the New Years Day Float. This January 1st was the maiden voyage of our new raft, The Enos T, named after the founder of our town. After a champagne toast and christening, the snow covered ground at the put in allowed us to pile into the raft and sled into the Gunnison RIver. We enjoyed sunny, 12 degree weather, snow covered scenery, and wintering bald and golden eagles. In all, five Western Slope SUP family and friends, bundled up and made the 8 mile river journey. Two river wide ice bridges presented the biggest challenges of the day. With a little creativity and a spare oar, we were able to pass through them.

Many will wonder why we would go to such great lengths just to go rafting in January. Maybe rafting is in our blood, maybe 5 winter months away from the river is just too long, maybe we are a little crazy…but it is a simple question with a simple answer: why not?


Gunnison River flows strong in a dry year

2018 has been among the driest years that Colorado has seen in the last century. This past winter, our corner of the state received only 10% of the snowfall we are used to. This lack of snow, which melts over the spring and summer months to feed our rivers and streams, has created unboatable, low flows on a majority of Colorado's rivers. We felt the low water sting here in Hotchkiss this spring. We were prepared to offer the first ever white water rafting tours on the high alpine rivers that flow into the North Fork Valley. Unfortunately, our inaugural rafting season was cancelled, as this year these rivers would not float our boats.

Here is the good news, the Gunnison River, where we operate our flagship SUP tours, is boatable all year every year. There are 4 big reasons why we are guaranteed great flows even in dry years: Blue Mesa Reservoir, Morrow Point Reservoir, Crystal Reservoir, and The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Yes, there are 3 enormous reservoirs and a national park just upstream of us. These reservoirs are able to store 1,058,016 acre feet of water. That is over 1,423 million cubic meters of water! There is also a minimum river flow requirement through the National Park, which means guaranteed SUP flows year round. 

We are having the time of our lives this summer, running daily and overnight SUP tours on the Gunnison River. We feel fortunate to have this incredible waterway right in our backyard! Come join us on the river next time you need to get away. It will be there. 

Even in the driest year on record, the Gunnison River flows strong. And it is a blast on a paddle board!

Even in the driest year on record, the Gunnison River flows strong. And it is a blast on a paddle board!

Our second season begins!

We have officially entered into our sophomore season at WSSUP and are excited to bring even more outdoor recreational opportunity to Western Colorado. 

This year we have introduced overnight, raft supported stand up paddle tours through some of the most scenic sections of river in the west. Our 2 day/1 night trip takes place in the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. Our 3 day/2 night trip tours Ruby and Horsethief Canyons on the Colorado River. Both are unforgettable, all inclusive experiences featuring sand and sun, farm fresh local meals and our favorite Western Slope wines. 

Also new this year is white water rafting. We now offer this thrilling experience on The North Fork of the Gunnison, which flows right through our hometown of Hotchkiss. Want a little more adventure? Head upstream with us to Anthracite Creek, which rages through the West Elk Wilderness and takes us for the ride of a lifetime on 6 miles of continuous class II-III whitewater.

With returning guides and a few new faces, you can expect the same great service and level of experience that put us on the map in 2017.

SUP guides in training enjoying breathtaking scenery in Ruby Canyon of the Colorado River.

SUP guides in training enjoying breathtaking scenery in Ruby Canyon of the Colorado River.

Standing on Water

I remember the first time I stood on a paddle board. Five years ago I unstrapped my mom’s board from the roof of my Subaru and carried it across the sand of Goleta Beach. I was visiting home for a week. Most of my friends had moved away , my parents worked during the day and I was left with the task of entertaining myself for the majority of my visit. My 50 year old mother had recently developed a passion for paddling and bought a board. So one afternoon with time to kill I decided to get out of the house and try it out.

 In Santa Barbara, California the most accessible body of water is the Pacific Ocean and I though the calm waters of Goleta beach would make a great place to try SUP. I spent my childhood here body-surfing the shore break and browning my skin on the warm sand. On this evening a gentle breeze rustled the palm fronds above, and the sun, low on the horizon invited me out to sea.

Standing next to the crashing surf, I realized I had no idea how to maneuver a paddle board so I went back to my surfer roots and got on my belly to paddle through the crashing waves. Fifteen minutes later, the board, paddle and I successfully made it past the breakers. Getting my footing on the tippy fiberglass board was a challenge, but the reward of paddling out into the setting sun, rocking on the gentle swell made it all worthwhile.

A seal surfaced beside me as I became aware of the kelp forest I was standing above. Minnows swam below me between its giant vines. Somewhere down there small sharks chased bigger fish through the maze of kelp. Phosphorescent plankton began to glow in the wake of my board. I smelled charcoal and Tri-Tip smoke from a barbeque far off on the beach. I heard the hollow thud of footsteps on the pier above me as I followed it a quarter mile out to sea.  

It wasn’t the board, the paddle or the balancing act that drew me to stand up paddle boarding. It was new vantage point it provided me. Much like riding a motorcycle or an airplane for the first time, experiencing life from a SUP was a whole new way to see the world. The environment around me and the calm that came over me turned a familiar beach into a new world of wonder. Since that day, SUP has provided me a new amazing way to experience beaches, rivers and lakes across the country. I continue to enjoy experiences I could not duplicate without standing above the water. I am forever thankful for Mom and her fiberglass board, and I never go on a road trip without mine. 

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