Paddleboard the Saluda River for a Fun Adventure

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Resident adventurist Kristina took her kids on a paddleboard tour with SUP State and tells us all about the new company and what they offer. Thanks to SUP State for inviting us on a trip down the river!

Mom and two daughter on a paddleboard on the river shore.

If you’re looking to get outside on the water but stay close to Greenville, we’ve got just the place. Located at the Saluda Outdoor Center, literally five miles from downtown Greenville, SUP State offers paddleboard tours right there on the Saluda River. They also have tours on the French Broad in Asheville and the Green River in Saluda, NC, just an hour from the Upstate.

I had heard of the Saluda Outdoor Center before but had never been and although I’ve paddleboarded before, I’ve never done so on a river. But I love adventures and new experiences – as do my kids – so when SUP State asked us if we wanted to go on a tour, it was a resounding ‘yes’! Plus, being outside and on water is a great way to social distance.

About SUP State

SUP State is the only paddleboarding outfitter in Greenville that does guided tours on the Saluda River. SUP stands for “stand up paddleboarding”, which means you are standing, or kneeling or sitting if you want, on a floating board a bit wider and sturdier than a surfboard and paddle along. It’s a lot of fun and something that’s easy to learn.

Paddleboard standing on its side in grass

SUP State is run by Derrick and his wife, Candace, both paddle enthusiasts. Derrick is the expert guide who has years of outdoor experience and water safety certifications, which made me feel like I was in good hands for this new adventure.

So while the company is pretty new to Greenville, having only opened up in late 2019, Derrick and Candace bring a lot of experience to the trips.

Paddleboarding the Saluda

Our trip was below the Saluda Dam on pretty flat and calm water. You need to wear helmets, life jackets, and closed toed shoes for the trip and Derrick gives you a thorough safety lesson before you get on the board.

While I had paddleboarded before, I was totally winging it and had no idea the different kinds of strokes to use or how to make sure your core is doing the work rather than your arms. All helpful information to help make the experience even more enjoyable.

The water was moving but not swiftly and there were some tubers also enjoying the hot day. We did approach some smaller rapids, which Derrick guided us through.

Man and child standing on paddleboard in water

The bigger rapid near the end of the trip was a little more challenging than the others. Derrick gave us all specific instructions on what to do if we fell off the board – not to try to stand up in the water but float on our backs and just let the board float away. Good thing for the instruction because I did lose my balance and tumbled into the water but remembered the lesson and just got some water up my nose!

Again, Derrick is such an expert at what he does that he had prepared us for what to do and then helped us get back on our boards and on the river. Smaller kids may find this a little scary – or fun. It’s all part of the adventure and with paddleboarding, you are probably going to go for a swim.

The water level of the river will change how the run will go as well. If the water is too low, paddleboard tours will need to be put on hold. As far the safety of the river, you can check the SC DHEC website to see if the state has issued a swimming advisory in the Saluda (as of this writing, they have not).

You can choose almost any length of time you want for the paddleboard tour, from an hour up to 3.5-4 hours.

Ages for Paddleboarding

I had my six and nine year olds with me on this trip. I paddled with my youngest daughter and Derrick had my older one on his board. They took turns standing up to paddle but kids have to be at least 12 years old to ride solo on their own board.

While everyone is required to wear a life jacket, SUP State recommends that kids be able to pass a YMCA swim test which means they can swim the length of a pool and tread water. Kids who go on the paddleboard tours with SUP State should be at least six years old. Each run may require a different minimum age though.

SUP State lets you bring water and snacks, which is awesome because it is hot and really, kids can be motivated to do almost anything for snacks.

Seasonal Fun & Costs

SUP State plans to do runs through October as long as the water level is safe for paddleboarding and the weather holds. It’s certainly hot enough here in Greenville for a longer season for water sports.

Costs per person start at $75 depending on the trip, for ages 12+ on their own board.

Paddleboard tours run spring, summer and fall but just weekends after Labor Day and into October if the weather and river level look good.

Saluda Outdoor Center

SUP State’s home base is right at the Saluda Outdoor Center, an outdoor recreation center down the road from Greenville. Currently, SUP State does the paddleboard tours and a tubing company takes tubers also out on the river. SOC has awesome tiny houses and river pods to rent – we stayed in one of their tiny houses and it was fantastic!

Small wooden triangle building with open side

When we were there, people were playing cornhole outdoors and enjoying lunch from a BBQ food truck.

Have you been paddleboarding?

SUP State
1307 Old Easley Highway, Easley

About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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