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7 Great Places to Paddleboard in Minnesota

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Paddling at Bear Head Lake State Park / Sara Lynch

7 Great Places to Paddleboard in Minnesota

By Sara Lynch

As one of the fastest growing water sports, paddleboarding has become one of the most favored ways to experience Minnesota’s many lakes. Gliding through lakes and rivers standing (and sometimes sitting) on a board resembling a surfboard can be a fun workout or way to enjoy sunsets with friends. Whether you’re a beginner or looking for a challenge, below are seven great paddleboard locations:

  1. Bear Head Lake State Park, Ely
    A peaceful paddle at Bear Head Lake State Park

    A peaceful paddle at Bear Head Lake State Park / Sara Lynch

    Bear Head Lake State Park, Ely

    Surrounded by towering pines, Bear Head Lake is a relatively calm and peaceful place to paddleboard in northern Minnesota. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot wildlife along the shore or hear a loon family calling to each other with the sound echoing off the trees. The park offers paddleboard rentals at $10/hour

  2. Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, Ironton
    Paddling on Huntington Mine Lake

    Paddling on Huntington Mine Lake / Sara Lynch

    Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, Ironton

    Already a popular mountain biking destination in Minnesota, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area also has some of the most beautiful mine lakes in the state. With crystal clear turquoise waters and possible loon sightings, the lakes are well worth visiting. Pennington and Huntington are two of the most popular lakes with parking nearby. For rentals, check out Red Raven or rent them with a stay at Cuyuna Cove

  3. Lake Superior, various cities
    Paddling on Lake Superior near Black Beach

    Paddling on Lake Superior near Black Beach / Sara Lynch

    Lake Superior, various cities

    Lake Superior is a beautiful paddling destination especially for those who are more advanced and prepared. Several outfitters such as North Shore SUP offer lessons and rentals. If you have your own paddleboard, Black Beach is a unique area to launch from with its black sand and beautiful rock formations along the shore. Since Lake Superior is one of the most unpredictable lakes with conditions changing rapidly, check the weather and wind forecasts before starting and consider wearing a wetsuit.

  4. Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata
    Exploring the shoreline of Lake Minnetonka from Wayzata Bay

    Exploring the shoreline of Lake Minnetonka from Wayzata Bay / Sara Lynch

    Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata

    Starting from Wayzata Bay and paddling along the shoreline toward Lookout Point is a great way to experience paddleboarding. En route, enjoy views of stunning homes and the beautiful bay. Since boats are also allowed on this route, stay close to the shore for a safer, less choppy experience. Rentals and lessons are available from Wai Nani Surf, which also offers SUP Yoga classes if you’re looking for an extra challenge and zen.

  5. Lake Winona, Winona
    Overlooking Lake Winona

    Overlooking Lake Winona / Sara Lynch

    Lake Winona, Winona

    Lake Winona, set alongside the Mississippi River, is a relatively calm lake with beautiful views of the bluffs. The lake is not too big either, which makes it an ideal spot to learn. Rentals are available from Lake Lodge Recreation Center.

  6. Lake Itasca
    Paddleboarding on Lake Itasca

    Paddleboarding on Lake Itasca / Itasca Sports

    Lake Itasca

    At the headwaters of the Mississippi River is the beautiful glacial Lake Itasca, a unique spot to paddle.  Rentals are available from Itasca Sports at Itasca State Park.

  7. St. Croix River, Stillwater
    Paddling toward Stillwater on the St. Croix River

    Paddling toward Stillwater on the St. Croix River / Sara Lynch

    St. Croix River, Stillwater

    For a scenic river paddle, launch at Boom Site in Stillwater. Enjoy views of both Minnesota and Wisconsin as you paddle toward the iconic lift bridge connecting the two states. Save enough energy for paddling back, because you’ll be going against the current. Rentals are available from St. Croix Stand Up Paddleboard Co.

Remember to always wear a life jacket and tell someone before you go paddling if you’re by yourself. Check out the Minnesota DNR’s website for paddleboarding regulations and tips.

Sara Lynch

Sara Lynch is a Minneapolis based corporate professional and travel content creator. She spends her free time exploring all over Minnesota by biking, paddling, hiking, skiing, attending local events and trying new cideries and restaurants. After traveling the world and living abroad, she knows there’s no place like Minnesota. Read her blog at www.PlanetwithSara.com for more adventure ideas.