Skagit River Eagle Paddle Tour
Skagit River Eagle Paddling Tour
Come out and experience the classic Skagit eagle float trip on a stand-up paddle board or kayak. This section of river will take you from Marblemount to Rockport, a beautiful section of the river that is home to dozens to hundreds of bald eagles during the late fall and early winter. Our permit for this tour runs from December to February.
Peak viewing months are December and January where it’s possible to see 100 to 200 eagles per tour.
Note that you will need basic River SUP or Kayak skills to go on this tour. This is not a float with propane heaters and hot chocolate with marshmallows. But it is a super epic trip if you’re dressed right and have the skills.
This is a skills based tour where you will continue to build your skills for paddling Class 1 – 2 rivers.
Learn more from the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center.
Who should go?
This is not a trip for everyone. The combination of moving water and cold weather creates a number of hazards. By signing up for this trip you are indicating you have the following paddle board and kayaking skills:
1. You have experience paddling in rivers and/or tidal current in your SUP or kayak. Take our Deception Pass Tidal Rapids class to get the basics.
2. Quickly self-recover / rescue on your paddle board or kayak minimizing the amount of time in the water.
3. Controlling and directing your paddle board or kayak in a dynamic environment, including small waves and eddy lines.
4. Recognize and avoid hazards, such as wood and shallow areas.
5. The ability to stand on your board or sit in your kayak for two to three hours with some breaks. Our permit requires no stopping for conservation purposes.
What about the weather?
We expect to run this tour in cold and wet weather – and still have fun!
However, there are certain conditions that will prevent us running this tour that we will not be able to anticipate until a day or two before the trip, including high water levels in the river and extreme weather conditions such as wind and freezing temperatures. In the event we must cancel a trip, you will be invited to reschedule for another trip on a different date.
You will be on the water two to three hours. This trip takes four to five hours total from the 10:00am meet-up time in Rockport.
It can be cold, so a 5/4mm full wetsuit or dry suit and other cold weather gear are essential. We will email you additional information after you register. The necessary equipment can be rented from Salmon Bay Paddle as needed.
We require proof of vaccination for this trip due to the need to run a vehicle shuttle. We will need to organize a vehicle shuttle in Rockport. It will be necessary for at least some of the group to ride in the same vehicle to run the shuttle. We will only run the shuttle with masks on and windows cracked for ventilation. Before we launch masks are encouraged and social distancing will be maintained.
Core Skills You’ll Gain:
- We’ll start with a safety check of our equipment – SHIPPS – Shoes. Helmet. Insulation. PFD. Padding, Signaling Device
- Staggered stance for river SUP paddling as well as other options for safely paddling rivers
- Review of strokes and braces for rivers
- Discussion of how to fall safe off a SUP
- River navigation basics and how to avoid hazards
- Safety considerations – power boats, cold air/water, river position, wood, spacing, hand signals.
- Overview of basic river hydrology
Required Equipment and Gear:
- Paddling Helmet – should be close fitting with straps that will not snag on anything
- Vest PFD – White water rated. A white water PFD will have a strap that can be secured and tightened under the rib cage, this will ensure it will not come off if someone needs to pull on the shoulder straps. Your PFD must be worn while on the river. We recommend bright colors. (No waist belt PFDs)
- Whistle – This is an important signaling device while on the water and required in many jurisdictions.
- Neoprene boots – Keeping your feet warm is critical. Boots that are big enough to allow a warm pair of socks underneath are recommended. Or over drysuit socks.
- Layers for warmth -Drysuit – A drysuit is a very comfortable option for this trip if you have one. Be sure you have appropriate layers underneath for the weather conditions.Wetsuit – Salmon Bay Paddle can provide 6/4 millimeter thick wetsuits. This will be enough to keep most people from getting dangerously cold. Layering a paddle nylon or Gore-tex paddling jacket over an/or light synthetic insulation under are an option to boost warmth. Wear a hi-vis synthetic shirt over for visibility.Other layers – Layers over and under a wetsuit will help you maintain a comfortable body temperature. Recommendations include long thermal underwear for under the wetsuit, and fleece or rain gear for over the wetsuit (but under the PFD). No cotton clothing is allowed on this float.
- Board and fin choices – In the river environment inflatable SUPs have distinct advantages. They are more resilient to the scrapes and bumps inherent in floating in shallow water. A low profile or rubber fin on your SUP is recommended to avoid catching it on rocks. Rigid SUPs can be used on this section of the Skagit, but the chances they will be damaged are significantly higher than inflatables.
- SUP Leashes – Any leash used on the river must be able to be quickly disconnected from your PFD/waist in the event the leash is snagged on something. If you use a leash it must be attached at the waist and you must be able to quickly release it using either hand. A quick release leash that can be attached to your PFD is recommended. If you do not have such a leash, for this section of the Skagit it is acceptable to paddle without a leash. Please be prepared to demonstrate your use of a quick release leash before we get on the water.
- Snacks and beverages – The conditions of our permit do not allow us to stop on the river. Therefore we will not be stopping for lunch on a beach. However, we will be able to take breaks in eddies along the way and snacks and a water bottle are recommended. Alcohol is not permitted on this trip. Otherwise, a thermos with a hot beverage of your choice is encouraged.
- Carabiners – On the river we only use locking carabiners to minimize possible entrapments, which can and have occurred with non-locking carabiners. Locking carabiners are convenient for attaching your water bottle to your craft or dry bag.
- Dry Bags – Your guide will bring a dry bag with safety equipment. There will be some room for storage of your personal items, including car keys. If you have a dry bag and a means of attaching it to your board, consider using it for snacks and extra layers on this trip. We recommend bring a deck bag for your board.
- Instructor Follow-up After Class – We’ll available after class to help you learn how to paddle in the Pass on your own and help with gear selection and more.
- Get free access to my SUP 102 Intermediate SUP online course. 24 Lessons plus our fav marine weather and tide/currents apps and resources.
- You’ll able to join our Facebook Alumni Group to continue learning and for connecting with other paddlers.
- Get 20% off any title at Mountaineers Books. Both of Rob’s books ‘Kayaking Puget Sound’ and ‘Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Surf and Rivers’ are published by Mountaineers Books
- Receive a Salmon Bay Paddle sticker!
Schedule: December thru February. Weekend 10am Start. Private Tours available.
SUP Dates: Dec 12. January 8, 15, 16, 17, 22, and 23/
Duration: You will be on the water 2-3 hours. The trip takes 4-5 hours total from the 10:00am meet-up time in Rockport to take-out and return shuttle.
Group Class 3 – 4 students – 299 per person
2 Person Class: 449 per person
1-1: 723 Get personalized instruction and guiding
+ RENTAL GEAR AVAILABLE:
- $15 – Stable inflatable SUP, deck bag, paddle, coiled leash, Vest PFD.
- $15 – Toasty 6/4mm wetsuit, booties. gloves, hood and helmet.
- Rental kayaks not available for the tour
Gratuities Welcome / Rates are Non-negotiable
“Rob and Harry are outstanding SUP instructors. They know the paddle board industry and are willing to share there knowledge to make you better. Rob excels in the technical areas and his teaching provides insight in helping you increase your skills. I have taken the instructor training and the Deception Pass’s tidal rapids class and both experiences were outstanding. The classes were held in epic places in the PNW. Salmon Bay Paddle will make you a better paddler and you will have a good time doing it!!”
“I found my way to Rob Casey in a roundabout way and I am so happy that I ended up taking his SUP 1 class that then lead me to his Deception Pass class. The DP class is an amazing experience and so far rates #1 in my outdoor water experience.
The feeling of learning how to navigate the rapids and surf the confluence felt like something I had never felt before. Rob and his partner Scott made our experience extra safe, fun, and joyful.
At the end of the class, all 4 of us were safely on our own surfing like old friends. Rob takes many steps to ensure paddle safety and he is an excellent guide with language that sticks in my brain. I can hear him telling me to lean into the current, paddle, paddle, paddle, get on your board after falling in, and always wear a PFD.
I now have the confidence to travel to DP without Rob and have a great time and know I will paddle back to my car happy and in one piece. Life is good with safety knowledge and skills. I cannot thank Rob enough. Take this class, you will not regret it. Safety and knowledge are priceless along one’s SUP learning trajectory and one’s paddle future.”