The rapids at Taggart are well known to many rafters, tubers, and kayakers. But it’s now a location for many who enjoy the emerging sport of stand up paddle boarding, or SUP.
In July, Taggart Falls on the Weber River was the site of the H2O Overdrive Summer Series SUP Cross race. Rachel Ellis, owner of one of the only SUP rental companies on the Wasatch Front, knows the area well.
“SUP is the fastest growing outdoor sport,” said Ellis, owner of On the Pond Fitness and Rentals . “It is popular near the coasts, but you can bring this sport to any body of water. That is the beauty of it.”
She said Morgan County’s reservoirs at East Canyon and Lost Creek, as well as stretches of the Weber River, are perfect spots to enjoy stand up paddle boarding.
Ellis first learned about SUP while on vacation in Hawaii, where the sport has its roots.
“I learned in the ocean, and I was obsessed,” she said. “It was the easiest thing I have ever done. I love it.”
Although Willard Bay is her favorite Northern Utah spot to paddle board because of ease of access to the water, she has also been paddle boarding on Pineview Reservoir and Mantua. She said SUP is a great sport all year round, as long as you use a wetsuit.
Ellis regularly paddled alongside her sister, who was preparing for a triathlon.
“The fishermen thought I was retarded,” Ellis said with a laugh.
She has become accustomed to people asking her what she is doing while on her paddle board.
“People run up to us on the beach and ask what I am doing, and how I do it,” she said. “So many people haven’t heard of it.”
The curiosity lead Ellis, a Farr West resident, to consider starting a business so that all those onlookers could join her in the sport. She now owns 10 boards that she rents out and will deliver upon request.
Paddle boards, which retail for between $600 and $1,200, are longer and wider than typical surf boards, making them more stable. Beginners will find more luck using a wider board while those with more body weight will appreciate longer boards. The paddle board is propelled using a one-ended paddle.
Utahan’s interest in the sport is growing, as evidenced by the approximately 30 SUP vendors recently at the outdoor retailers show in Salt Lake City.
Her business offers not only paddle and paddle board rentals, but also instruction. She offers anything from four-mile adventures and date packages to yoga, Pilates and core fitness classes on the paddleboards. Ellis plans on earning a SUP yoga certification in the near future.
“It is the best head to toe work out,” Ellis said. “And it’s not only a physical work out, but a mental work out. It is mentally stimulating. It is so versatile.”
The low-impact sport especially helped Ellis while she was recovering from a hip injury. Ellis’s sister, who was recently extensively injured in a bike accident, has benefited from paddle boarding as well, Ellis said.
Ellis has seen beginners learn how to paddle board in as little as 20 minutes, and more athletic people struggle with their balance. Ellis herself has only fallen off once in her two years of paddle boarding.
She said she has noticed women seem to have better balance on a paddle board than men, but the sport is good not only for both sexes, but for all ages. Her youngest paddle boarder was her five-year-old nephew. Her three daughters also like paddle boarding.
“It is super for all ages,” she said.
Ellis and her husband are accustomed to running small businesses, as she runs a hair business out of her home and he repairs trailers and small engines.
For more information, find On the Pond Fitness and Rentals on Facebook, or call Ellis at (801) 732-1183.