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    Badfish Blog — Academy

    Our Favorite Dam-Free Rivers in the U.S.

    Our Favorite Dam-Free Rivers in the U.S.

    Less than 1/4 of 1% of US rivers are protected under the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. While 600,000 miles of them are blocked by dams and thousands more are under threat. Paddling a dam-free river can be a rare experience and one that is coveted by many. Some people say that paddling a free-flowing river feels different. They have a purity to them that is unencumbered by human development. Maybe this feeling isn’t a physical sensation but more of an internal appreciation of experiencing and witnessing nature in its perfect form & process. Or maybe it’s that the river’s freedom and fluidity inspires us to embody and practice these virtues in our own lives. Whatever it is, there is no denying that there is something extraordinary to a free-flowing river. But don’t take our word for it, here are four of our favorite dam-free rivers in the United States.

    Yampa River, Colorado

    Yampa Sup Paddler

    The obvious place for us to start is in our home state Colorado. The Yampa river is very special to the river community in Colordao, as it's our last free-flowing river in the state. The Yampa begins in the Rocky Mountains descending 250 miles into the alpine desert where it meets the Green River. You'll paddle alongside miles of striking canyon walls carved and sculpted from thousands of years of water and wind. Side-hikes will lead you to 800-year-old Native American rock art and secluded waterfalls. To preserve all that is beautiful about that Yampa it is highly regulated. Applying for a permit or hopping on a guided trip is your only chance at experiencing this beautiful place. Permits are coveted and registration is only open from Dec. 1 to Jan. 31. Maybe 2020 will be your year! Good luck! (For registration details click here.)

    Lochsa River, Idaho

    Lochsas River Pipeline

    The Lochsa River runs from the Bitterroots Mountain Range in North Eastern Idaho for 70 miles until it meets with the Selway River to form the Middle Fork Clearwater River. In 1968 the Lochsa became part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protecting it from dams. Although this river runs along the U.S. Route 12 highway it still feels far from civilization. The water is a deep emerald green that will often times be blanketed in early morning fog. Lush pine forests cover the surrounding mountains making it feel more like the Pacific Northwest than Northern Idaho. Camping is easy and accessible. And when you're finished with your paddle or surf you can relax in one of the few natural hot springs. With no cell service nearby it's the perfect place to disconnect and reconnect with nature.

    Salmon River, Idaho

    Main Salmon River Rapid

    The Main Salmon River is one of the largest rivers in the continental U.S. without a single dam. The standard length for this trip is five days. Fun and fairly friendly class III-IV rapids are scattered throughout the stretch, all ending in pools. You can soak in natural hot springs along the way and chances are you'll see a bear or two. Soft sandy beaches make for idyllic camp sites and bocce ball venues. From time to time you'll pass houses, inhabited by the solitude loving type, only accessible by boat or plane. It's a world all of its own. Like the Yampa, the Main Salmon works on a lottery permitting system. If someone invites you on a Main Salmon trip we strongly advice you to SAY YES!

    Yellowstone River, Montana

    Yellowstone River Surf Wave

    All you need to do is look at the picture to know why this is one of our favorites!

    Badfish's 10 Ways to Get Stoked for the 2021 Season

    Badfish's 10 Ways to Get Stoked for the 2021 Season

    Let’s face it, 2020 was a class V year, making it to the end still standing has felt somewhat impossible. But 2021 is just around the corner and while the future remains uncertaint we want you to go into it feeling strong! Here are our TOP 10 things to help you get ready and excited for the 2021 paddling season!

    1. The Badfish SUP Journal Podcast

    Badfish Sup Journal

    We started a podcast earlier this year and believe it's a great way for us to feel connected to our community. Hear from Olympic kayaker Rebecca Giddens to feel inspired, start planning trips after listening to Dan Gaveres top paddling destinations, and get excited for some multi-day trips with our episode on self-support stand up paddling.

    2. Natali Zollinger's Workouts


    Get fit and ready for your 2021 paddling and river surfing adventures with team rider Natali Zollinger's Garmin Fitness workout series.

    3. Get Stoked Badfish Video Playlist on Repeat

    4. Tis' the Season for River Permit Applications & Trip Planning.


    It's virtual permit party time! Connect with your friends and lock in some dates to apply for river permits on some of the most coveted rivers in the United States' like Dinosaur National Monument on the Green, the Rogue River in Oregon, or the Middle Fork or Main of the Salmon. The lottery closes February 1 2021.

    5. How-To Videos to Start Visualizing Your Paddling and River Surfing Technique.

    6. Carve the Concrete with Surf Dayton Skateboard Decks

    Badfish Skateboard Deck

    7. Rowing Machine Workout

    Maintaining that paddling strength by hopping on the rowing machine for a quick but not so easy workout.

    Rowing Machine Workout: 2000 Meters in 7 minutes 4x a week

    8. Learn to Patch and Repair Surfboard Dings

    9. The Eddy Out Podcast

    Eddy Out Pod Cast

    A new river podcast co-hosted by team riders Natali Zollinger and Brittany Parker.

    10. BP's Let's Go Surfing Spotify Playlist

    Spotify Playlist

    Happy 2021 everyone and we are just as stoked as you are to get back on the water as much as possible in 2021!

    New Badfish Podcast-Introducing the Badfish SUP Journal

    New Badfish Podcast-Introducing the Badfish SUP Journal

    Our new Podcast the "Badfish SUP Journal" is live on Apple, Spotify and Google. The mission of the new Podcast is to share some story-telling, interviews and technical tips from the our community and the larger paddling community. The first episode features an interview with a true legend of paddling, Charlie Macarthur "C-Mac". C-Mac shares his story of how he first discovered stand up paddling on the south shore of Oahu in the 70's! Check out the first episode and look for future episodes every couple of weeks. We hope we can provide some interesting content in this period of forced isolation to keep your stoke for paddling alive! Please subscribe to the pod, rate and review the first episode and send in your comments or questions to info@badfishsup.com. Thanks and see you on the water! -Mike Harvey

    Sup Journal Charlie Macarthur

    This is the first River Surfer, then called the "Chubby Stick" that Zack built for me in the winter of 2009.

    Tips for Choosing River SUP Fins

    Tips for Choosing River SUP Fins

    "What fins are you running today?" This is a common question us whitewater stand up paddlers often ask each other before getting on the river. Some of us geek out on this topic more than others. But your fin choice can have a huge effect on your paddling experience. The anxiety around making the best choice is somewhat warranted. Fins are important! So, let's get you well versed on the subject so next time someone asks you, "What fins are you running today?" You can answer with something like, "Well, it's more shallow than it is deep but can also be pushy in spots so I'm going to go with a 4.5" gummy and 2" side bites." Instead of, "I don't know, what are you running today?"

    What is a fin?

    A fin is a hydrofoil that is attached to the underside of the tail of a board that helps with directional stability. Meaning, the fin is going to help your board stay pointed in the direction you want to go, as well as, offering up some resistance against lateral waves. Running with no fins might make it easy for your board to turn but when its time to go straight you'll find it very challenging to stay on course. Unless you're paddling extremely shallow rivers you'll probably always be running some kind of fin set-up.

    Types of fins and when to use them...

    Fins come in all shapes and sizes. Choosing which fins to buy can be overwhelming, fortunately when it comes to paddling rivers it is pretty straight forward and simple. It's when you get into flat water racing and surfing that fin selection and technology becomes understandably much more complicated.

    4.5" Soft Flex Center Fin

    4.5 inch SoftFlex Fin

    We use to make and carry 6" center fins, but we found that 4.5" in almost every whitewater situation is enough center fin if you are able to include side fins in your configuration. Whitewater stand up paddle boards tend to have more volume and width (to make it more stable in rapids) than non-whitewater boards. Having a lot of fin can make it more challenging to maneuver the board and set-up your angles. You'll notice we call this fin a soft flex fin. That's because it is made of a flexible rubber to make it more forgiving when hitting rocks as well as more durable. We recommend sticking with flexible fins in river situations if you want them to last any reasonable amount of time.

    3" Soft Flex Center Fin

    3 Inch Center Fin

    This fin is a great choice for lower volume, shallow rivers. It's important to remember, the shorter the fin the looser the board. The board will be easier to turn but you may have to work a little harder to keep your board paddling in the direction you want it to go. For lower-volume rivers this isn't much of a problem. It's the big pushy stuff where having that extra fin really comes in handy.

    4.5" Soft Flex Click Fin Pair

    4.5 Inch Softflex Click Fin

    Now, let's get into side fins, also known as, side bites. These side fins come in pairs and live on the right and left side of the center fin. The side bite fin boxes are fixed a few more inches toward the horizontal center line of the board. In most cases, if your whitewater board has ample tail-rocker (which it should), these fins will sit a little lower in the water than the center fin because they don't have that rocker to give that little extra lift. These fins are great to use in conjunction with your 4.5" center fin in big water where directional stability is very important. Weight may also be a factor in deciding which fin set-up is best for you. A bigger paddler may have an easier time maneuvering a longer fin set-up versus a smaller paddler. It's always good to experiment with different configurations and see what works best for your style and size.

    2" Click Fins

    2 Inch Soft Flex Click Fin

    These little guys here don't seem like they would do much, but a little can go a long way when it comes to fins. When running a 3" center fin these can be helpful in adding a little extra bite when paddling shallow rivers. Or, using these in configuration with your 4.5" center fin when you don't necessarily want to go as big as the 4.5" side bites. If, for example, the river your paddling is pretty technical and you need to make a lot of quick moves in a rapid that could be a perfect set up. Another option is using only the 2" side bites and no center if you find yourself paddling a very shallow river, because something is usually better than nothing. Smaller paddlers paddling on 9'6" whitewater boards may opt for these fins more often than 4.5" side fins so less power is needed to lay into the rails of their board to make an eddy turn or change their angle.

    Fin Hardware

    Center Fin Screws

    Center Fin Screws

    We recommend stocking yourself on some back up center fin screws because you will lose them.

    Grub Screws

    Grub Screws

    Grub screws are used in your side fin boxes. Your side bite fin boxes are click fin boxes (if you're paddling a Rivershred), meaning you can click your fin in without having to search for a fin key and secure them with the grub screws. In a pinch this is great when the frequent disappearing fin key is nowhere to be found. BUT, we recommend using the grub screws that come with the fins when you can. All it takes is a couple blows to some rocks to pop those fins right out.


    Fin Keys! Fin Keys! And More Fin Keys!

    Fin Key

    The precious fin key! Get lots of these! Keep one on your key ring, in your lifejacket, in your shoe, under your car mat, around your neck, on your dogs collar. You never know when you're going to need one and they are never where you thought you put them. That should get you started! And remember if you have any questions about fins or gear you can message us directly on our website or e-mail us at info@badfishsup.com.