Our Guides

Cliff Langley – Trip Leader

Swiftwater Adventures was founded by Cliff Langley, a self-termed ‘adventure naturalist.’ Cliff admits that this may be a new title, but it suits his lifestyle and goals. He had been a guide and naturalist for the better part of 2 decades, and is certified in First Aid/CPR, Wilderness First Responder through NOLS, and Swift Water Rescue through ACA.

Cliff has guided whitewater rafting and kayaks trips, canoe trips, high ropes and zip-line courses, mountain biking, snowshoe and cross-country skiing outings, and interpretive hikes. His adventures have taken him from the shores and rivers of the Lake Superior region to the Rocky Mountains, to the wildernesses of Alaska and northern Canada, and to the jungles and beaches of Central America. His antics have even been mentioned in Outside Magazine’s 2007 Best Outdoor Towns article.

In addition to being an adventure naturalist, Cliff has written many articles that have appeared in magazines such as Superior Outdoors and Northern Wilds, and many of his short adventure films have appeared in film festivals and on regional PBS stations.

Education: Cliff has an Associate of Science in Environmental Science, a Bachelor’s of Arts in Environmental Studies, and a Masters of Education in Natural Science and Environmental Education from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. The focus of his Master’s Thesis was: Exploring the Effectiveness of an Eco-adventure as an Environmental Education Tool.

Cliff can be reached at: [email protected]

Lucas Aker – Trip Leader

Born and raised on the banks of the St. Louis River Lucas spent his childhood fishing, camping and enjoying the lakes, rivers and woods of northern Minnesota. As an adult not much has changed.

When not working in the north woods Lucas spends months abroad exploring new cultures and landscapes around the globe always grateful to have such an incredible natural environment to return to.

With decades of professional experience he has guided tens of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers. This is all part of his ongoing commitment to sharing the best kept natural resources and adventures in the forests he calls home.

Brian Pfeifer – Trip Leader

Brian has been a whitewater kayaker for over eight years, spending two of those years living in Seattle kayaking some of the finest whitewater the United States has to offer. Having spent the last 10 years pursuing and completing his formal education—while taking as much time as possible for wilderness adventure—he’s aiming to take his love of outdoors to a new level.

Growing up on a lake in northern Minnesota, the water and wilderness have been an integral part of his life since early childhood. His love of the outdoors has manifested itself as a lifetime of hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, SCUBA diving, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and generally existing outside. Brian and his wife, Carrie, enjoy spending time together, exposing and teaching their two young sons, Michael and Collin about the wilderness.

Education: Brian’s formal education is in Music, specifically percussion performance. He earned the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of North Dakota, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Washington in Seattle. He aims to remain a life-long student of the natural world.

Ryan Zimny Trip Leader and Smart Dude

Ryan Zimny truly knows the ways of the Universe—he is a physics teacher! He teaches Chemistry too.

Ryan has been a guide on the St. Louis River since the late 1990’s. As far as happenings on the river: he’s seen it all, done it all, so not much surprises this mad scientist. He looks much younger than his age from the benefits of being a long time paddler, biker, runner, and skier. He enjoys coaching Alpine ski racing and spending time his kids and his lovely wife.

Josh Hudspith Trip Leader and Big Time Smiles

Josh loves paddling and spending time outdoors. Josh is a math teacher and loves to inspire young minds to reach their potential. He has been a guide and trip leader on the St. Louis River for the greater part of a decade. Rumor has it that he is a karaoke addict

Josh enjoys spending time with his wonderful wife and their baby–soon to be toddler!

Hunter Rackliffe

Raised in Duluth and just blocks away from the lower reaches of the St Louis River Hunter has been adventuring since very young. It started with hunting as a family tradition, then fishing, then camping, then snowboarding, and then after a trip up the North Shore of Lake Superior with his Dad to camp, canoe, and fish, he was hooked. Ever since then Hunter has done many Boundary Waters Trips, Hunting Trips, Snowboarding Trips, Kayaking Trips, and many other awesome adventures. Hunter has spent a lot of time snowboarding competitively both regionally and nationally and once he graduated he moved on to coaching freestyle snowboarding. On top of coaching Hunter found his passion for whitewater which fit hand in hand with his winter activities. Hunter started on the Upper St Louis to learn which grew into many North Shore river trips, South East US Trips, and lots of trips within the Midwest, and no matter what he always comes back to the good Ol St Louis River. After about a year of whitewater Hunter decided to try guiding rafts at Swiftwater Adventures, he started as a Photo boater, then raft guide, and eventually working his way up to Trip Leader. When not working on the river Hunter is outdoors doing his hobbies or working his full time job at a school.  Hunter is a lover of anything outdoors and lives for adventure, he is hard working and compassionate and always pushing for the overall experience, See you on the river!

Andy Stingle

Andy has been paddling the st louis river for just about 3 years and has got to know the river like the back of his hand. In the Summer he spends most of his time on the river whether it is for work or just for play. In the winter Andy is a freestyle snowboard coach and competed in freestyle snowboard competitions since he was very young. Andy just graduated from duluth east highschool and is planning to take a year before college and have fun and figure out what he wants to do.

Karsten Fetter

Karsten has been living in Esko only minutes away from the St. Louis river for most of his life. Karsten began kayaking on the St. Louis river about 5 years ago. Throughout these 5 years Karsten has learned just about everything about the river. Karsten loves the outdoors, in the summer he is either kayaking for fun or having fun outdoors at work. In the winter he spends almost everyday snowboarding at Spirit Mountain. Karsten recently graduated from Esko high school. Next year he plans on going to the University of Washington in Seattle, there he plans on studying aerospace engineering. Karsten also plans to kayak the world class rivers around the Seattle area.

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!