Paddleboards and the Wenatchee area are a natural fit: the city sits at theconfluence of two rivers, namely the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers, offeringplenty of watersport opportunities.
Stand-uppaddle boards (SUP’s) have become increasingly popular as recreationalequipment. They are easy to transport and handle. The inflatable boards take upvery little space and can even be taken along on hiking trips.
Whenin Wenatchee, it isn’t necessary to purchase a paddle board to enjoy the fun itoffers – there are two places that will rent them out.
Riverfront Rock Gym
RiverfrontRock Gym (www.riverfrontrockgym.com)at 1319 Walla Walla Avenue rents them out for $40 for a full day or $30 for ahalf day (4 hrs). Members can rent paddle boards for $30 or $25 respectively. Thepaddle and a life vest are included.
Theirboards are inflatable and easy to transport. The customer is responsible fortransportation.
TheRiverfront Rock Gym is conveniently located at the entrance to Walla WallaPoint Park, a large recreation and picnic spot free for anyone to use. From theparking area by the playground access to water is easy: the swimming lagoonright next to it is shallow and offers a gateway to the river or one can haulthe board across the Loop Trail to the north and enter the water from there.
Theother business offering paddle board and other sports equipment rentals and salesis Arlberg Sports downtown (www.arlbergsports.com)at 25 North Wenatchee Avenue.
Theyrent out the boards for a full day for $50. Paddle and vest are included, butthe vest does not come with a whistle – they can be purchased at Arlberg’s. Thestore finds cleaning rental whistles would be too much of a hygiene hazard.
ArlbergSports is about a couple of blocks from the river, but centrally located foreasily reaching many water access points.
Access to the river
Gettingthe paddle board into water is easy in Wenatchee. There are several spots withshallow beaches or well-used pathways to get to the river’s edge.
Startingfrom the south end of the Walla Walla Point Park area, the Linden Tree parkingarea offers two ways to reach the river: from the pier by the boathouse or offthe small sandy beach below the Riverside apartment complex. Both are within aneasy walk from the parking area.
Thereis another good entry point about a half-a-mile north of the Linden Treeparking area, again a sandy beach with a sandpit a short distance farther. Thecurrents may be fairly strong at this location as it is close to the tworivers’ confluence.
Alittle farther north again, there is a lagoon area close to the playground. Dueto the lagoon’s shallowness and calm waters, it is the perfect spot for abeginner to test their skills or to paddle out to the river from one end of thelagoon. A word of warning: immediately upon exiting the lagoon, the currentsare strong and swirling; it is hard work even in a kayak, and a paddle boardwill certainly need a strong arm to get anywhere through this spot.
Itis easier to enter the water from the very north edge of the Walla Walla Park,past the ballfield area. Descending the slope off the Loop Trail, there are acouple of small pebbly peaches where it is easy to push the board afloat andhead for the Horan estuary to the left. https://wenatcheeoutdoors.org/2016/05/04/horan-natural-area/?sf_action=get_data&sf_data=all&_sfm_activity_type=Hiking-Backpacking&_sfm_location=Wenatchee
TheHoran area offers several options with winding, calm waterways throughout. Thebirds and deer seem to care very little about paddlers, as opposed to hikers onthe walkways who are sure to alarm them. Gulls may come within arm’s reach ofthe paddle board and keep company.
Whilestanding on the board, it’s possible to see the plentiful fish darting back andforth underneath it and spot wildlife in the riparian growth along the river.The Horan nature area is a popular birding spot for people even as far away asSeattle.
Oncethrough the estuary, the waterway opens to the mouth of the Wenatchee River,right at the junction with the Columbia River. The currents will be noticeable,so think twice before embarking on a long paddling excursion farther out on theriver.
Itis also possible to go on a paddling tour on the east side of the river, fromthe beaches near the 19th Street Loop Trail parking area in EastWenatchee. The currents are gentler on that side and the water is deep, thusreducing the hazard of running into large pieces of driftwood or rocks close tothe surface. The area is also rich with birds, adding fun to the outing.
Safetyshould always be a consideration while out paddling. As many different types ofboats occupy the river, there are occasional waves that come from speedingvessels. They may sway the board considerably. It is best to kneel or to sitdown on it until the waves have passed.
Astand-up paddle board is considered a vessel, and it is a requirement by lawfor anyone on a vessel to wear a life-vest, a sounding device as well as theappropriate lights in dim conditions. Please refer to www.parks.state.wa.us and click on “paddle sports” for more specificregulations.