Though they've only been leading paddling tours for a few years, the certified guides of Stand Up MN have already helped thousands of people explore the Twin Cities' local waterways up close. After equipping their guests with standup paddleboards, personal flotation devices, and ample training, they embark on trips along the quiet stretch of the Mississippi River that cuts through their urban landscape.
From St. Paul, groups glide under bridges and pass idyllic natural areas—and from Minneapolis, they can take a break from paddling to high-five low-flying birds from a rope swing over the water. Stand Up MN also leads extended paddling tours to Taylors Falls, where state parks and tumbling waterfalls abound. These excursions are complemented by the company's special events, which include speed-dating events at which participants spend most of the time hanging out while paddleboarding.
Apple River Hideaway's mile-long shoreline unfolds its verdant foliage for tents, campers, and travelers to soak up the sun's rays river-side or recline beneath the leafy canopies of towering trees. Staffers rent out rubber tubes for bobs down the Apple River, where friends can admire the stunning scenery as they sail over rapids, beneath a road bridge, and beside an off-duty Charybdis. Offering an idyllic respite from the bustle of city life, the campsite makes for an ideal after-party spot for those attending a nearby concert.
Outdoor enthusiasts Dan and Sandra Meer equip adventurers with canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards to explore a 60-mile stretch of the Mississippi River whose picturesque shores have been designated wild and scenic by the Department of Natural Resources. “One group we sent out on just a two- or three-hour trip counted 12 eagles,” Dan says, marveling at the myriad wild turkeys, muskrats, and deer that often congregate along the protected waterway to gossip about bald eagles’ unconvincing hair plugs. Gleaming schools of small-mouth bass lure fishermen to the rippling waters, and plentiful sandbars and shallow depths also beckon younger explorers. “We want to get kids involved,” says Dan—himself a former Boy Scout and now the father of two more Scouts. “Get them away from their screens.”
He and his wife entice those youths, and older adventurers as well, with day trips in canoes and kayaks whose hulls are made in nearby Wenonah. For overnight jaunts down the river, the couple rents both vessels and camping gear, and at their store—housed in an old creamery building on the riverbank—they sell new and used canoes and kayaks to dedicated paddlers who know the river so well they can fall asleep while swimming across it.