“Gorge” yourself on Standup Paddleboarding this weekend

Where is the largest national scenic area in the U.S.? How about the highest concentration of waterfalls in the U.S.? The Grand Canyon? Yellowstone National Park? Nope. The answer is the Columbia River Gorge in the Pacific Northwest. A land of contrasts from rain forest to deserts, this part of the country is just a short ride from Portland and home to one of the biggest Standup Paddleboarding Festivals left in America – the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge.

Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge 2016 SUP Standup Paddleboarding Post Race carrying surfboard Hood River Oregon PNW

Gorge Paddle Challenge 2016 Hood River Oregon – Image taken by: Bill Reynolds

How the mighty have fallen

Before we go into the event, we want to highlight the importance of actually attending this year’s show. Over the last few years, even with the explosion of Standup Paddleboarding, two of the major worldwide events no longer exist. First, the Battle of the Paddle known as the “Super Bowl” of Standup Paddleboarding, was cancelled by Rainbow Sandles. Then in 2016, the Payette River Games, attracting over 25,000 spectators and athletes from around the world, couldn’t land a major sponsor and is no longer around. But as any great competitor knows, you must keep moving forward. With the loss of these events, the 2017 edition of the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge has become even more monumental to this sport.

Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge 2017 edition becomes even more important

Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge 2016 SUP Standup Paddleboarding Post Race carrying surfboard Hood River Oregon PNW

Two competitors fiercely going after it – Image taken by: Brett Downen – Downen Creative Studios

With two great events falling to the wayside, this year’s Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge becomes even more important for the SUP community. The Columbia River Gorge might be known for its kite boarding and wind surfing, but it’s now becoming an even bigger destination for SUP. Attracting the elite, as well as recreational paddle boarders from around the world, this is the place to be! In fact, competitors travel from all over specifically to experience the world-class downwind conditions produced by the Columbia River Gorge. So, what makes this venue so special? It’s held at Hood River’s Waterfront Park! Some of the fun features includes:

  • A crescent-shaped beach for the starting and staging areas
  • Great stadium style viewing area for spectators
  • Large grass area for vendor tents, onsite restrooms and plenty of parking
  • Best of all, it is walking distance to downtown Hood River

In addition to the standup paddleboard races, there will be free demos, live music and various food vendors. So, if your near Portland or Mt Hood, consider a short detour down to Hood River and check this out!

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