Frequently Asked Questions

Where do we meet?

Trips meet at our office, located at 121 Vermillion St. Carlton, MN 55718. Look for the Swiftwater parking signs and check in booth.

How many people can go rafting?

We can accommodate 1 to 52. We can fit up to 6 adults in a raft plus the professional in raft guide steering your crew. We can sometimes squeeze 7 or 8 in a raft if they are smaller sized people and the groups wants to ride in one raft together really bad. 6 person rafts are the perfect size for the St. Louis River at its various flows throughout the rafting season.

How much does it cost?

Our trips cost $65/person and include all necessary equipment (helmets, paddles, pfds, waterproof cases and paddling suits if needed) and a professional in raft guide. We do have discounts for large groups too. If you have a group of 10 or more call or use the contact form.

What does the trip involve?

Who can go?

While our trips are for almost anybody and no previous experience is necessary our trips are not like an amusement park ride: your effort and cooperation are needed. If you can’t paddle or don’t want to then our trips aren’t for you. Our trips are a wilderness and whitewater adventure.

All children need to be ages 8 and up. 8 and 9 year olds must be accompanied by their parents or a guardian.

Click here for more information on who can go!

Why go rafting with Swiftwater Adventures?

Homegrown guides with world experience. Our guides are from the region but most have traveled and/or guided in other regions or countries. We have taken the best of what we have seen and experienced and applied it to our trips

Our trips are guided by professional in raft guides and are led by trip leaders in safety kayaks. This makes your trip more fun and safe with experienced and trained guides both in the raft and on the river.

Specialized training and certifications: We set the industry standard in the area. Our trip leaders are certified in Swift Water Rescue, Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder, and CPR.

Education and knowledge of local ecosystems where trips take place. From geology to flora and fauna of the region, we know it, love it, and share it with you.

You are special: we don’t operate like a whitewater factory in a hurry to get you down and on to the next customer. Our goal is to offer a unique, quality experience where you are part of the team. We encourage everyone to be fully in the moment and enjoy their surroundings.

Call to book your whitewater adventure today!

Do we need prior paddling or rafting experience?

No prior paddling or rafting experience is required as we have professional in raft guides steering each raft. You do need to be physically able to paddle and mentally able to understand and follow directions.

Do we have to paddle a lot?

A lot is a relative term, but you do need to put in an effort. This is not an amusement park ride. At times we will paddle easy and other times everyone will need to paddle hard to successfully navigate a rapid. We do take a couple of breaks along the way.

What should we wear to go rafting?

For colder conditions, you want to dress in layers. For your base layer polyester or fleece, long underwear is best. No cotton as it loses its insulating properties once wet. For your insulating layer, wool or fleece is ideal as it can get wet and still insulate. For your external layer, you want something like Gortex to shed water and stop the wind. Early and late in the season and on days with cold conditions, we supply wetsuits at no extra cost.

For footwear: in colder conditions wear wool socks and tight fitting shoes such as tennis shoes. If you have neoprene booties then water those. In warmer conditions wear tight fitting shoes such as tennis shoes or sandals that have a strap across the back so they stay one. Flip flops are a poor choice as they can easily fall off and be lost.

How long is the trip?

Depending on flows the trip is typically 2 hours long. Larger groups can take a little bit longer but typically 2 ½ hours is the maximum time.

Check out the trip description for more information!

What kinds of rapids will we be paddling? How are rapids rated?

Depending on flows and the section of river we run, most trips will paddle a couple of class II rapids and several class III rapids. In high water most of the rapids are class III to class III+ which can be waves larger than 6’ tall!

At low flows we run a different section of river through a canyon where the rapids are more technical class III and one class IV rapid.

This video provides visual examples and discusses how rapids are rated: Rating Rapids

Can I wear a Go-Pro?

Yes you can! We even have helmets available with Go-Pro mounts. Please ask to ensure you get one.

When is the best time to go rafting?

As far as time of day, we offer rafting trips at 10 am and 2 pm, whichever suits you best. We also offer a 5:30 pm trip Wednesday-Saturday.

As far as time of year, if you are looking for high water then May and June typically sport higher flows. Spring and early summer rains bring the river levels up.

July and August are also great times to raft as the St. Louis River holds water well, conditions are warmer, and besides there still being challenging rapids, the river is a wilderness area providing fantastic scenery.

Can we party?

We want everyone to have fun but you CANNOT be under the influence of alcohol or drugs on our trips. Not only can this cause unnecessary danger to yourself but to others as well. There are enough variables to try to manage risk while in a whitewater and wilderness setting that being of an altered mental state exemplifies that risk too much.

Once the trip is over, then visit your favorite watering hole or the River Inn for adult beverages and additional good times!

As far as time of year, if you are looking for high water then May and June typically sport higher flows. Spring and early summer rains bring the river levels up.

July and August are also great times to raft as the St. Louis River holds water well, conditions are warmer, and besides there still being challenging rapids, the river is a wilderness area providing fantastic scenery.

Why is the river a rootbeer color?

The headwaters of the St. Louis River, and its tributaries, start out in wetlands or bogs where decaying vegetation releases tannins that stain the river a ‘rootbeer’ color.

Check out this video for a longer explanation: St. Louis River Color

Don’t see your question above? Ask us here:

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    Phone Number (required)

    Your Question/Message

    What Our Clients Say!

    Very enjoyable experience

    Great experience , we had good weather and the guides were great and very informative Well organized and up-to-date on Covid precautions.

    It was a blast can’t wait yo go back!!!

    Very professional!!! A Lot of fun!! Highly recommended. Guides made sure it was fun and that you were having a good time!!

    Great time!

    It was great! My family of four (youngest 11 years old) had no experience with whitewater rafting and felt safe and had a ton of fun throughout the whole trip. We would definitely recommend it!

    Great fun rafting!

    It was an amazing experience. The staff was very professional yet extremely welcoming. Will go again.

    Awesome experience!

    Awesome trip! We had a great time! The staff was amazing and we got to surf the rapids. The drop was super fun! Would totally do it again!!

    Great family day trip!

    This was a great family adventure, ages 14-50s. We all loved it! Our guides were skilled, friendly, and fun! Keep us all safe and helped us have an awesome day on the river. Highly recommend it.

    Fun Family Adventure!

    The whole set up was perfect for a fun family adventure of all skill levels. The tour guides were fantastic!

    Great experience

    I went there yesterday for my birthday and it was AMAZING!! Will definitely go back! Caleb was awesome.

    Day on the river

    Whitewater rafting with Swiftwater Adventures was the highlight of our trip. Highly recommended. Everyone that works there from the bus driver to the very competent guides were pleasant and fun. Our family loved it.

    Do it!!!

    I have lived in Duluth 20 years, and cannot believe I haven't tried this until this year! It was a blast, and a very memorable highlight of the summer. The water level was high, making for a very wet ride. I wish I had worn a bathing suit for the experience we had. There was an adventure swim and the option to jump from a granite cliff, during a picturesque stop. The scenery is like the BWCA, with the cliff and pines. The staff were very organized, capable, and friendly. Two staff accompanied our group of rafts for safety and photos. I cannot wait to do this again, and I have been raving about the experience to my friends.


    Did not expect to have this much fun on our rafting trip. The rapids are much more than we expected which was awesome. We were worried it might be lame but it exceeded our expectations. Our guide, Trent, was so much fun.


    It was an excellent experience that is exciting for everyone of all ages. The rapids are perfect, not too intimidating, yet incredibly thrilling. Great guides, definitely coming back!

    Rafting on the St Louis River, MN

    Surfing and the Electric Ledge. Patrick was our guide, he was awesome. Great photos! We will go again.

    Awesome Ride for all ages

    This was an awesome Ride! We went along with friends and family and really enjoyed it. It's not scary or risky, it's kids friendly. Our kids jumped into the water and swimmed also. The guides who came with our group are very friendly and gave us safe instructions and took care of us. Kory and Luke, Andy good Pictures! Carlson nice support! Thank you for this awesome experience!


    We had a fantastic time and loved our guides. Lucas, Andy and Karsten were the best!! It was our first time and wasn’t nearly as scary as I worried it would be... in large thanks to Lucas! Thanks guys!!!!

    Amazing rafting experience on the St. Louis River!

    My son and I had a fantastic time! Our guide was amazing and informative! Plus, he kept me from getting sucked into the water when "surfing" our raft, which was an added bonus! Thanks for that Carston! The view was amazing along the St. Louis river too. Would love to kayak the Thomson Reservoir someday after this trip opened my eyes to it. Everything was done professionally following COVID guidelines too. We had so much fun and would highly recommend company and the adventure itself to anyone visiting Duluth! You won't regret it!

    Great Family Experience

    Our family of five had a great trip. 17 yr old, 14 and 10. We had never whitewater rafted before. We felt safe and our guide was great. The precautions taken for covid were fantastic. Thank you very much!