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Paddle Boarding Michigan

Written by Aaron Campbell

There are over 11,000 inland lakes in the state, 368 of them are between 300-10,000 acres.


Stand Up Paddle Boarder cruising by Holland's Lighthouse during the cold winter month of February. Photo Courtesy: Aaron Campbell.


HOLLAND, Michigan – The majority of people probably think of the ocean when they think of stand up paddling, but, with 1,058 miles of Lake Michigan coastline, the state of Michigan is becoming a great place to stand up and paddle out.  The Great Lakes shoreline is equal to almost 44 percent of the circumference of the earth, and Michigan's Great Lakes coast totals 3,288 mi, more coastline than any state but Alaska.  There are over 11,000 inland lakes in the state, 368 of them are between 300-10,000 acres, plus countless rivers and inland waterways to be explored.




SUP Surfing on Winters

Winter and Fall Generate Short-Period Winter Swells



Touring Late Spring to Early Fall

Destination Options Include Lakes, Islands, and Rivers


The sport of stand up paddling is in its infancy in the state, but as more people try it and travel to other places such as California or Florida, they come back with a new vision of the sport and the places it can be enjoyed.

The seasons that are most favorable for SUP in Michigan are late spring, summer, and early fall.  This is due to the warmer air and warmer water temperatures in which most people enjoy being outdoors.  With the right gear, many people are paddling year round.  The weather during our fall and winter months brings with it the waves for SUP surfing.  Our weather plays a huge role in creating the conditions of the Great Lakes, due to the lack of tides.  

SUP hot spots in Michigan include, Holland, Grand Haven, Traverse City, the Upper Peninsula, and Torch Lake.  Pictured Rocks is an amazing place to paddle in our U.P. (Upper Peninsula), and has been recently featured in the Kid Rock video “Born Free”. (Join the Destination Group on Supconnect.)


Hot Spots




Features Holland State Park, with plenty of Beaches



Grand Haven

Holds Beach Festivals on the Shores of Lake Michigan



Traverse City

Home to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore



Upper Peninsula

Lots of Islands, Bays, and Harbors to Explore



Torch Lake

Carribean-Clear Water and Largest "Inland" Lake


Holland is one of Michigan's premiere Beachtowns, with both Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa providing plenty of fun for stand up paddlers. The city also boasts an award-winning downtown, with more than 120 specialty shops, galleries and restaurants, including the Outpost of Holland, “THE” shop for SUP in west Michigan.  One of Michigan’s most popular destinations, Holland State Park, offers expansive white sand beaches, swimming, picnicking, two campgrounds and spectacular sunsets! (Join the Inland Stoke group on Supconnect.)


Grand Haven

Grand Haven is another one of Michigan's featured Beachtowns.  The town features lively outdoor recreation, a thriving downtown, and festivals on the shores of Lake Michigan and the Grand River. (Join the Destination Group on Supconnect.)


Traverse City

There are 180 miles of beaches where you can wander or paddle as far as you like.  The area offers lighthouses, picturesque lakeside villages, glacier-sculpted hillsides, lush orchards and more than 20 acclaimed wineries. Near Traverse City is also the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 35 miles of coast that is maintained by the National Park Service. (Join the Destination Group on Supconnect.)


Upper Peninsula

The U.P. forms a shield above Michigan's mitten, highlighted by the 1,700-mile shorelines of three Great Lakes: Superior, Michigan, and Huron. With its numerous islands, harbors, peninsulas, and bays, the Upper Peninsula is a great place to explore with your stand up paddleboard. (Join the Destination Group on Supconnect.)


Torch Lake

At 19 miles long, Torch Lake is Michigan's longest inland lake and at approximately 18,770 acres is Michigan's second largest inland lake.  The lake is noted for its exceptional beauty; its waters are unusually clear and exhibit a bright turquoise hue, often resembling Caribbean waters. This quality makes Torch Lake a great place for paddling and taking in the northern Michigan scenery. (Join the Destination Group on Supconnect.)


Other Paddlers


Gathering at the Outpost

Outpost and Other SUP Shops Are Starting to Spread



Shorelines Abound

More Coastline than the State of Alaska


Currently there are few places to find other standup paddlers other than out on the water, or asking at the outdoor sports shops in some of the towns mentioned above that deal with SUP’s.  “SUP Connect” is doing a great job in helping this cause, as is a Holland Michigan blog about SUP called StandupPaddleout.com.  Many of the Michigan shops are in contact with the site’s administrator and events are posted for people to view, respond to and be a part of.  News and event information from across the country is also posted on the blog.

Personally, I have only been into SUP a little over a year and have enjoyed seeing the sport grow in our area.  I’ve raced in North Carolina, California’s Battle of the Paddle 2010, and two races here in Michigan.  This year’s inaugural SUP race in Holland Michigan was attended by noted SUP celebrity, Candice Appleby, and Ultra marathoner Dean Karnazes. When you plan your next adventure, consider Michigan for a salt and shark free Stand Up Paddle experience! (Join the Inland Stoke Group on Supconnect.)


About Aaron Campbell


Aaron Campbell is a Holland, Michigan resident who has become one of the most passionate stand up paddlers in the Great Lakes State. In the past year, since he was introduced to the sport, he has attended several events and constantly updated the community through his website, called StandupPaddleout.com. Become friends with Aaron Campbell on Supconnect.


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Last modified onThursday, 22 January 2015 14:55

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