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Arizona Travel: Westin Kierland and the FlowRider (Surfing in the Desert)

Today I have a guest post from Kate Eschbach. The day after my family returned from a trip to Arizona I was invited to visit the Westin Kierland and experience the FlowRider… the timing couldn’t have been worse for my family but luckily for Kate’s family they were right nearby. I’ll be writing about the Westin again, my kids are going to have to experience surfing in the desert too. 


We arrived Friday afternoon at the Westin Kierland and we were introduced to the FlowRider and Steve Richardson, the “Wave Master”.

The FlowRider is a water boarding simulator. It combines surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding into one amazing ride. Riders will be able to feel the power and force a wave. The Westin Kierland is able to accommodate anywhere from 300-500 riders per hour – so you do not have to wait too long to enjoy your 15 seconds of fame – or more if you can stay on that long.

It is designed with a trampoline like surface, making the inevitable wipe out much less likely to end in injury. They stress that riders of any age are welcome! You must be 42″ tall to body-board and 52″ tall to flow-board.

My nine year old son and twelve year old daughter were not sure that if they were going to brave the cold snap we were having here in Arizona, but as soon as they turned on the FlowRider and Steve was showing them tricks, the kids were heading over trying to figure out what size wet suit they should put on! The idea of learning to surf in the desert was just too tempting.

Since you are either riding the FlowRider or waiting your turn to ride, there is a very nice seating area and restaurant for parents and others to sit and relax if they choose to just cheer everyone on.

As the kids nervously walked up the side, I hoped that they would really enjoy this and just go for it!

And they did! Nate was the first to go and from the minute Steve helped him on the board, he was all smiles!

I was still breathing a huge sigh of relief that no one had asked me to put on a wet suit.

Steve was at the top of the FlowRider, helping them get on and giving them pointers and another adult was at the bottom. I felt absolutely at ease watching them head up to the top to ride again with huge smiles on their face! By the end, all the kids knew each other’s names and were cheering for each other.

That night the kids just couldn’t stop talking about how much fun they had! They called Grandpa just to tell him all about it. (Grandpa grew up in Corpus Christi, so surfing is second only to walking.)

The kids are already begging me to go back again. The FlowRider is the perfect addition to their Adventure Water Park which already includes a 900 foot lazy river and 110 foot water slide. This summer, the Westin Kierland will be holding a week long camp, and I can’t wait to research that!

Plus, I would love another excuse to stay at the Westin Kierland. At sunset, a Bagpiper plays as he walks the hills of the golf course. Mom and I were able to make it to the fire-pit Friday evening just in time to hear it.

“Like” Kierland FlowRider on Facebook or visit for the latest news and events, and Wave Master Steve’s personal blog.

You’ll have to try it someday. The view is stunning and the service is outstanding. All evening, they made my family feel like rock-stars.

FlowRider no water


This is the FlowRider without any water. Remember you’re in the middle of the desert.

Kate Eschbach Photography FlowRider


Here are Kate’s kids trying out the FlowRider. These aren’t kids who have ever surfed or been on a boogie board.

Kate Eschbach Photography first time on FlowRider

First time boogie board on Flowrider

It looks like someone’s getting the hang of it.

Elena Shaka

Beecker Carve



fun on the flow rider

Steve Richardson Wave Master


Max Sing

desert surfing
It looks a tiny bit different when the pros give it a go.

And every evening at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa pays homage to the contributions made by the Scottish Immigrants who developed Arizona’s railroads, mines and towns. Here you’ll see bagpipers at sunset.

Kate Eschbach Photography bagpipers


On a personal note, Scottsdale is a fabulous vacation spot with amazing shopping and The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa is right next to the best of it.