Top Beginner Schools: Leavenworth Mountain Sports

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SUP Schools: Leavenworth Mountain Sports

For Adam McKenney, owner of Leavenworth Mountain Sports in Leavenworth, Washington, it was a trip to the shores of Mexico that cemented his love of all things SUP.

Six years ago, on a whim, he brought an inflatable SUP with him on a trip south. He was hooked from the first stroke.

"As soon as I got back I started paddling and surfing SUPs on the Wenatchee River and having a ton of fun," says McKenney, also a longtime kayaker. "I took to it instantly."

For McKenney, Inflatables are the name of the game. They're the perfect SUP, he says, for his location on the Wenatchee, which features 18 miles of Class III rapids, a harder stretch of Class IV rapids above that, and a 17-mile Class II wilderness stretch at its headwaters. "Inflatables are what got our rental, guiding and lesson business off the ground," he says.

McKenney offers a smattering of courses and tours, including a one-hour flatwater lesson and a popular two- to four-hour guided interpretive tour that includes instruction, river safety programming and even history of the area. "We've had everyone from 6-year-olds to 60-year-olds," he says, adding that they'll even take people's dogs down on a separate SUP. "It's the perfect introduction."

He also offers a two-hour park and play session focusing on surfing, a four-hour river run course that takes people 18 miles from Leavenworth to Cashmere and a four-hour Class II wilderness trip that starts at the river's headwaters in Lake Wenatchee. His Supsquatch tours on a giant C-4 board fit up to 10 people with coolers, snorkels and more.

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Photo: Leavenworth Mountain Sports

Business, he says, is booming. In 2013 his five instructors taught more than 200 students—150 of them first-timers—and his fleet of 30 rental boards is up three times what it was the year before. And it's showing no signs of slowing down. The reason is the sport's simplicity. "People come in and say they want to go kayaking or something, but we steer them toward paddleboarding and they have way more fun," he say. "People find their flow way faster on a board. It's way more versatile and a lot easier. Nearly everyone has an amazing time their first time out." – Eugene Buchanan

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