MOAB, UTAH IS A 4-HOUR drive from where I spent most of my life in Colorado. When I was into mountain biking, Moab was my favorite spot; when I ditched the pedals for an engine, that’s where I went on my motorcycle. When climbing became a passion, I began to make regular trips to its sandstone cliffs.

There are few places in the world where so many different sports cross paths like they do in Moab. Subcultures collide and intermix here. 4WD enthusiasts, climbers, mountain bikers, and BASE jumpers can all be found sitting at the same bar. There’s a new sport in Moab now: Stand-up paddleboarders are discovering that their sport is not limited to the ocean, but that a SUP can be the perfect way to explore the hidden landscapes accessible only by the river.

1

Being in the view rather than simply looking at it.

So many of the viewpoints in Moab are from elevated vantage points, separating you from the landscape. Looking out from above like this, I’ve always imagined what it would be like to be “in” that view rather than simply looking at it. That’s why I came back with paddle boards. They are fast and light, and they were created to deal with ocean waves, so the small rapids around here would not be an obstacle.

2

The camping is amazing.

While traveling I always look for a good campsite rather than a hotel. I don’t see the point of spending $200 on a room that I have a hard time sleeping in anyway, or camping in a campground squeezed in between an RV on one side and a party on the other. In a place like Moab, there is more wilderness than you could see in a lifetime. It only takes a little bit of research to find amazing hidden campsites where you’ll be all on your own.

3

You can surf 1000 miles inland.

The waves in the ocean may be bigger and better, but they will never be able to match the ride time you can get in a river. Ken Hoeve, seen riding this tiny ankle slapper once rode a wave for almost 24 hours. That’s like riding a swell from LA to San Francisco.

4

Going where you can't by road.

Along the River Road in Moab, there are numerous sections where the river and the road part ways. I’ve always wondered where the river goes, and what hidden views it winds through before joining back with the road. From a distance, I’ve looked into these canyons and seen the potential for amazing imagery, if only I could get there. Paddle boards offer the ideal transportation for the photographer as long as you bring a waterproof case along to keep your gear safe. As the river winds along, there will always be a place where the light is filtering in and hitting the canyon walls in just the right way to light up the scene and create an amazing photograph.

5

Bad weather is only a bad mindset.

With the right gear, there's no reason not to explore the seasons of the desert. It’s easy enough to say that the weather is too cold, it’s too rainy, or it’s too hot. The desert environment is always changing from one extreme to the other. If you prepare adequately, this can actually be one of the things that you grow to love about being in the desert. On this day, we’d planned for an easy downriver paddle in the sun, but as we arrived a snow storm came out of nowhere. Had we turned around because of fear of discomfort, we would have missed out on this amazing view and experience.

6

Using the paddleboards to find new climbing areas.

We went to Moab for the rivers, but paddling past these cliffs every day seeing people climbing the sandstone cracks, I knew I had to get on the rock for a day. Paddleboarding can be a great way to get to the climbing as well. A number of these canyons have roads on one side, and the other side is relatively unexplored because of the difficult access. I’ll be coming back here to explore that other side and look for new routes.

7

See the national parks.

Moab is surrounded by national parks. The closest is Arches National Park, and it is well worth taking an afternoon to drive through. My favorite spot is at the Windows Arches. It’s only a short hike in, and it’s rarely as crowded as the more famous Delicate Arch.

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