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Paddle Board Rentals in Crested Butte

How to make the most out of your Paddle Board Rentals in Crested Butte

This guide will help you understand paddle board rentals in Crested Butte, Colorado.  You will learn of the Float-Shack online booking system, the types of stand up paddle boards we use for rentals and our safety gear.  The complete SUP rental experience will be discussed.   To finish, we will share our favorite SUP spots we tend to go paddle.

Booking your SUP

The Float-Shack has two convenient ways to book your stand up paddle board reservation.   The most convenient way to book is using our new online booking software. Choose between a SUP or a river float tube and then pick a date and time slot.  Its that easy.  We still take phone reservations at (970) 209-9747.

Delivery or Pick-Up

The Float-Shack now offers free delivery of paddle boards to your residence, condo or hotel.  Our staff will personally outfit your entire party with SUP, paddle and PFD.  Your group will get a short parking lot instruction and explanation of all gear.  Meanwhile, all paddle boards will be loaded onto your vehicle for travel.  Be sure to pay attention to the correct mounting, as you will be loading for your return.  We also will arrange for pick up on certain trips and occasions.

Returning the Paddle Boards

All reservations are required to be returned by designated time and place of drop off.  Please return all SUP, paddles and PFDs clean.

Stand Up Paddle Board Rentals

New for 2017 NRS inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards and River Float Tubes.  The Float-Shack has many models and sizes to choose.  We have 4″ and 6″ size boards designed for touring, river and wave surfing and fitness paddling too.  We have a SUP for everyone.

Safety Gear

All Stand Up Paddle Board rentals come with a leash and one PFD.  The leash will be specific to the planned activity.  We have special emergency release leash designed for river floats.

Favorite SUP Locations in Crested Butte

We all have our favorite spots for paddle boarding adventures.  Here are a few of ours.

Slate River  – Crested Butte River Float

Start at the recreation path bridge on the east side of Crested Butte. Take Teocalli Ave. east past 9th St to access the Slate River Recreational Path Bridge – put in.

Take out is the HWY 135 Bridge just past Crested Butte Country Club.  Stop at the nice grassy area, its on South side of Slate River immediately before the HWY Bridge. You will find great access to parking off the highway, right by the Crested Butte Country Club signage.

This section is without any whitewater. The Slate River twists and turns many times through open ranch land right on the edge of town. The peak of Mt Crested Butte towers above offering spectacular views and amazing scenery for a summer float.

Times vary with the snow melt off and river flows. Generally speaking, expect the highest flows in June, moderate flows in July and August, and September is not recommended due to low flows and cattle entering the area. Keep in mind recent rain will change the normal flow for a day or so.

June – Highest water flow – 1.5 hours

July & August – Moderate water flow – 1.75 to 2 hours

September – Low water flow and cattle in area – NOT Recommended

Stand Up Paddle Boards Near Me in Crested Butte

Three friends enjoy a summer float down Upper Slate River with Crested Butte towering in the background.

Upper Slate River – More Challenging

Start at the Gunsight Pass Bridge located on Slate River Road. Take 6th St/ Gothic Road north out of Crested Butte. Slate River Road [734] is the first left turn. Follow this past Nicholson Lake for a total of about 2 miles. On the left you will see [739] and a sign for Gunsight Pass Bridge. High clearance vehicles may travel down to the river as there are many car swallowing pot holes on this section of road.

Two take out choices.

The Recreation Path Bridge, east of Teocalli Ave. will be the first take out.
The second option is the HWY 135 Bridge as described above, for a full day of floating fun!

Great wildlife viewing as you will pass through a wildlife sanctuary, known for Great Blue Heron, Red Tail Hawk and Bald Eagles. Plenty of stopping and viewing stops are available along the way.

This section may not be suitable for children to navigate by themselves.

Float times vary, with the snow melt and river flows.  A recent rain shower will add to the normal flow for a day or two.  Plan for the highest water flows in June, then moderate flows in July and August.  Floating the Slate River during September is not recommended due to cattle entering the area.

June – Highest water flow – 1.75 hours (Upper Slate only)

July & August – Moderate water flow – 2 to 2.5 hours (Upper Slate only)

September – Low water flow and cattle in area – NOT Recommended

Great for Full Day, ½ day and Evening adventures.

Shared SUP

A young man and his dog share a SUP for a afternoon Lake Irwin float.

Lake Irwin

Just a short drive from downtown Crested Butte, Lake Irwin is nestled among towering Rocky Mountain peaks.  Lake Irwin offers the most convenient park and float with picnic and camping areas lake side.  Fisherman will find hungry lake trout to offer plenty of fishing opportunities.  Hiking lakeside trails are sure to offer a full days exploration. Be sure to ask for directions to the chilling rope swing, if you dare…

Directions to Irwin Lake.

Take Whiterock Ave. west out of Crested Butte. Eventually, this road will change to [12].  In several miles, you will start to enter a wide open meadow (on left) and the road will make a gentle sweeping left across the entire meadow. Begin to start looking for signs and a right turn to Irwin Lake and Campground. This is also what locals refer to as the “Y.” Follow this road [12E] to Irwin Lake and Campground. The route is suitable for low clearance vehicles and is around 12 miles total one way.

Great family fun for full day, ½ day and evening adventures.

Unfortunately, The US Forest Service PROHIBITS the Float-Shack from delivering or instructing on Lake Irwin. We apologize for this strict policy.





SUP Leash?

Stand up paddling is an activity nearly everyone will enjoy.  Recent survey’s conducted showed the popularity of SUP growing at a tremendous rate.  Stand up paddle boarding was listed as the #1 sport in terms of new participants in 2015.   With all of the newcomers, some paddlers might think having a board and a paddle is all you really need to go out on the water.  Some thought and consideration to SUP safety must be a priority.

Safety for your Stand up Paddle Board Adventures

US Coast Guard classifies stand up paddle boards as vessels, which requires all participants to wear an approved PFD at all times.  In addition, the National Center for Cold Water Safety defines cold water at 77 degrees Fahrenheit or below, so proper water immersion gear is also necessary for many areas.

SUP Alta Lake

Two SUP paddlers enjoy and early spring float.

The SUP leash is overlooked in paddle board safety.  Things may change quickly, even on flat water.  Cold water, strong currents and even wind can separate a paddler from their board very quickly.  Therefore, a SUP leash may be referred to as a life-line while in an emergency situation on the water.

Smart SUP paddler’s will minimize and often eliminate most of their risk by choosing to use a SUP leash.   Furthermore specific SUP activities require different leashes.  Let’s take a look at some of the major differences in SUP leashes.




Best SUP leashes for surf will be at least 1 foot longer than the paddle board.  Look for a medium thickness, six (6) millimeters or thicker straight leash.  The straight variety will not tangle as easily as the coiled version and will allow the board to move away from your body without ricocheting back.  SUP surfers tend to use a calf style leash, helping to keep their feet free to cross step along the board.


Placid lake paddlers like to use a calf style coiled leash.  Most coiled variety will keep the leash from dragging in the water and be free from tangle around the foot area.
Coiled leashes do have their downside and have been known to ricochet back at the paddler in a fall.  Good practice will have paddlers fall with their feet towards the SUP and use their hands to protect their face and head in case of a ricochet.

River/ Whitewater

Special attention must be given to SUP leash selection for rivers.  An ideal leash for river SUP will be a coiled leash equipped with a quick release.  Paddlers should attach it around the waist or PFD to keep it from dangling in the water and potentially catching or snagging on the bottom.

The Float Shack offers both a coiled and coiled quick release leash for your SUP rental.  Most of all, your safety is our main concern therefore, we will choose the correct leash for your chosen float area and be sure to demonstrate the correct use and emergency release each and every time you choose to float with us.