While recently on a visit to Mesa, Arizona, I was taken on a real adventure: paddle boarding on the Salt River. I will admit upfront that I did not stand up on the board like you’re supposed to. When we arrived, I was ready to stand up and paddle but was advised by the instructor that the winds were pretty bad and she didn’t recommend it as a first-timer. Looking back, I wish I had tried, but I really enjoyed riding around the river in the middle of the desert on my knees. I took deep breaths, ogled at my surroundings and as I thought about the people back home who were enduring such a catastrophe as the one I left behind, I appreciated every single moment on the river.
However, the women I was with got on the boards and stood right up. They were empowering and fearless and I watched them ride around the river effortlessly. I was so happy to be in the presence of such courageous women. The five of us paddled in peace and gave each other encouragement to go further out and spread our wings. Sandy, our instructor from Stand Up Paddle, told us she had just come in 4th place in a paddle boarding contest after working in the profession for eight years, and my colleague, Roseanna, vowed to return to Winnipeg and purchase a paddle board when he got home.
If you’re headed to Mesa or Phoenix, here is some travel information. There are three lakes and two rivers within 30 minutes of Mesa that allow for desert boating, fishing, rafting, kayaking, water skiing, wake boarding and jet skiing. Or, partake in the ever-popular activity of “tubing”, a leisurely float along the cool waters of the Salt River via inner-tube! The closest river to Mesa is the Salt River. You can book multiple day guided tours of the Upper Salt River featuring rapids and surrounding wilderness areas and canyons or the Lower Salt River where a more leisurely float awaits. For flyfishing, birdwatching and a more tranquil experience, the banks of the Salt River within the Tonto National Forest offer some of the best escapes with nearby offshoots like Granite Reef recreation area with riverbank trails and outposts.
Contact: Stand Up Paddle, 480-540-4236
Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary paddle boarding to facilitate this post and others. Next time I’ll be standing on the board.