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Positively Minnesota: Mississippi Paddleboarding Tour A Rare Treat

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: Austin Aho)

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It could be the best two hours you spend this summer.

Whether you’re new to the area or have lived here your entire life, a paddleboarding tour down the Mississippi River offers some the most breathtaking views of the Twin Cities you’ve ever seen.

Austin Aho is the man behind Stand Up MN. An Eden Prairie native, he first navigated the Mississippi in 2010, and the idea of guided paddleboard tours immediately clicked with him.

“Paddleboarding is an absolutely blast,” Aho said. “It’s something that almost anybody can do, regardless of age or physical condition. As a water activity it is surging in popularity not only here in the Cities, but worldwide.”

Aho and his team expect to take 3,000 people down the Mississippi this summer, from family adventures to corporate office picnics.

“It’s a great bonding experience,” Aho said. “We’ve taken so many different and diverse groups down the river and it usually exceeds their highest expectations. That’s really exciting for us as guides.”

A two hour, seven mile journey explores the most beautiful and remote sections of the Mississippi. On weeknights, Stand Up MN features a 2.5 hour sunset tour, a favorite for double dates and anniversaries.

The Minneapolis tour begins near 694 and winds south, ending near Nicollet Island. The route to St. Paul starts at Hidden Falls and concludes on Raspberry Island, beneath the Wabasha bridge.

Guides can choose the best option based on wind direction and river speed.

The exercise is also part of paddleboarding’s appeal. It’s a full-body workout and paddlers feel the burn in the core, arms and legs. It’s equal part adventure and serenity.

How many people fall in?

Aho pegs the number at 5 percent, although the taller and heavier, the better chance you have at taking a dip.

“Safety is our top priority,” Aho said. “If you want to stay dry, we’ll keep you dry.”

Groups are limited to 12 people. Prices start at $22.50 per hour and vary depending on date and time. Tour guides provide everything, including equipment and instruction.

Tours run through October 31, weather permitting.

Video: WCCO’s Colin Smith Takes A Quick Tour

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