Blog

When Is the Best Time to Go Rafting?

We get asked constantly, and I mean a lot, “When is the best time to go rafting?” My favorite response is any time we are running trips. If the river is flowing you should be going! Of course, The answer to this question is subjective. It is a personal choice but one that people who [...]

Educational Adventure Trips with Swiftwater Adventures

It might sound like a tired cliché, but seriously, learning can be fun! Our January blog discussed that our  Eco-Adventure trips are educational adventure trips, primarily whitewater rafting, that utilize an experiential approach as students are immersed in a wilderness environment. In this follow up blog we want to talk more about how an ecoadventure […]

Ecoadventure—Adventure and Environmental Education: Whitewater Rafting Trips near Duluth, MN

While we were whitewater rafting near Duluth, Minnesota on the St. Louis River, a large dragonfly landed on the side of the raft. A young woman sitting in the middle of the raft amongst her family raised her hand intent on squashing the insect. “Wait! They eat mosquitoes, deer flies and horse flies!” I said. “What? Really?” […]

Experiences Are the Best Gift to Give AND Get!!

Most of you reading this probably aren’t seven year old kids hoping for a new Frozen 2 action figure or a Baby Yoda under the Christmas tree this year…well maybe the Baby Yoda or whatever he actually is, he is pretty cute. Anyways, what are you planning to give as gifts this holiday season to […]

Inflatable Kayak Whitewater Adventure

Whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River, just 15 minutes from Duluth, MN and about 2.5 hours north of the Twin Cities is our bread and butter. Heck, you could say it’s our crown jewel. And our staff is passionate about whitewater. We paddle the different sections of St. Louis River for fun when we […]

Swiftwater Adventures: What’s New for 2019!

For those that have whitewater rafted with us before on the St. Louis River, and those new to whitewater rafting in Minnesota, we have some changes for the 2019 season!  New Swiftwater Headquarters and Facilities We have now fully converted our office at 121 Vermilion St. in Carlton, MN into our meeting spot and facility […]

Carlton, Minnesota: Small Town Charm, Big Time Fun!

Duluth, Minnesota has a reputation as an outdoor MECCA thanks to all the recreational opportunities created by the rugged landscape, numerous rivers and lakes, and the big attraction: Lake Superior. This well-deserved reputation is also due in no small part to the wonderful community and businesses that have promoted the Zenith City. At Swiftwater Adventures, a lot of our […]

Guide Series Part II: Accepting Defeat on the Vermilion River….Twice!

Labor Day for most people is a time spent relaxing with friends and family, usually centered around a barbecue. So it may seem an odd time for two brothers to set out on a river trip that would span almost 50 miles in 2 days. However, in my mind it seemed somehow appropriate to celebrate […]

Swiftwater Adventures: Guide owned and operated

If you’re going on a high adventure trip, you want to know that you can trust and depend on your guides. That’s why at Swiftwater, we feel it’s so important that our owners are also guides. In fact, one of them is on every trip that we run. This allows us to provide the most […]

Teamswiftwater: Whitewater Paddling Adventures

Whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River near Duluth, Minnesota is our passion and our bread and butter. We love the St. Louis River and its whiskey colored water, its beautiful rocky shorelines, tall pines and amazing rapids. We also love to take our skills and our friends on adventures elsewhere too. This is what […]

Kayak, Canoe, and Paddle Board Rental on Thomson Reservoir

Those of you that have whitewater rafted the upper St. Louis River with us probably remember paddling on the Thomson reservoir to end the rafting trip.  Rafters paddle across the narrower north-south expanse exploring only a fraction of the 470 acre manmade lake. There is much left to see and explore as the reservoir expands […]

Lester River Race 2018

I don’t think I have ever been involved in or heard of an event that’s date is determined so last minute (maybe the Eddie Aiku Big wave surf competition) than the Lester River Race. What can I say: Mother Nature doesn’t cater to us. So every spring we watch the weather, looking at the extended […]

The Magnificent Joys of Being a Novice

It’s hard to imagine that “winter” is coming to an end. Since Christmas day we’ve been in a deep-freeze around here for more days than not. But today, the sun is shining and it’s starting to warm up! As we hearty Northeastern Minnesotan’s start to thaw out I challenge you all to one last hoorah before […]

Winter Adventures: Land of Plenty

It was the best kind of problem, the kind where any decision is a good one, but one outcome might be slightly better than the others. How is that a problem you ask? Sounds like a good thing, right? And what if I told you that this dilemma was in January here in the frozen […]

Thanks for a Fantastic 2017 Season!

Wow, what a season 2017 was! First off thanks to all of you: you being our customers, guides, employees and friends. We took a few thousand people whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River, gave dozens of kayak lessons, and rented out recreational kayaks and stand up paddle boards on the beautiful Thomson Reservoir (just […]

Cliff’s Favorite Fall Color Adventures

September and October are my two favorite months to be in northeastern Minnesota. Good bye pesky skeeters and flies, hello warm days and cool nights, and the colors all make these two months the best! The following are a few of my favorite fall color adventures I would like to share with you. These adventures […]

Falling into Autumn: Waterfalling That Is!

One of the nice things about September for Swiftwater guides is after Labor Day weekend, when the rafting season on the St. Louis River begins winding down, although we run trips into October, we have more time for personal adventure. The fall of 2017 didn’t disappoint as far as whitewater adventure was concerned. Recent rains […]

Flipping the Switch to Highwater

We often tell prospective rafting clients that are looking for an easier whitewater experience when rafting on the St. Louis River, that August is the time to go rafting. We say that if you are afraid of big waves and fast water that August is your month. Typically, late summer in northeastern Minnesota, or really […]

Paddlemania 2017

It seemed different but not out of place to be giving a safety speech on the Lower St. Louis River to a group of rafters. It was the first commercial whitewater rafting trip on the Lower section of the St. Louis River. Quick side note: if you are going whitewater rafting in Duluth, Minnesota, or rafting […]

Swiftwater Adventures: What New in 2017?

Ok, a few things are the same: we are focused on offering you the best possible professionally guided whitewater rafting trips on the St. Louis River with your fun and safety as our number one goal. That hasn’t changed. Although, we strive towards excellence every year. We are getting better every year and training our […]

Swiftwater’s Commitment to Excellence

With another season on tap, we just wanted to share with our customers our commitment to excellence. Now, don’t get me wrong, we aren’t perfect or is every trip excellent, although I think they are all pretty darn good, and we have had many, many excellent trips. My point is that we make a concentrated […]

2017 Lester River Race: April Fool’s Day Race

On Thursday night March 30th, 2017 fellow kayakers Andrew Strasser, Marty Halverson, and I hiked along the Lester River as it was breaking free of ice from a few days of warm weather. It had been a lackluster winter. We lost most of the snowpack in a late February thaw before falling back into sub-freezing […]

Venturing Outside Your Comfort Zone

Having led and experienced adventures all over the place, I have seen many people forced outside of their comfort zone. Some handle it quite well while others seem to quickly fold under the pressure of risk and uncertainty. The sake of this blog is to help push people towards being more adventurous, like whitewater rafting […]

Benefits of Adventure Based Programs for Team Building

Sometimes when I discuss team building experiences with new clients or someone in a casual conversation they think of trust falls, burlap sack races, or a scavenger hunt. While all of those do have merit, that’s not our approach. Swiftwater Adventures takes an adventure based approach to team building in the Duluth, MN area. We […]

7 Reasons to Snowshoe this Winter

At Swiftwater, we love skiing and biking but sometimes we like to slow things down and winter walk: A.K.A. snowshoe. Snowshoeing is a great activity that allows you to enjoy the winter scenery and relax while you get some exercise. Not convinced that snowshoeing is worth your time? Well, if you live or visit Duluth, […]

Saturday Winter Fat Tire Biking Tours

Have you ever wanted to try fat tire biking but were afraid to try it out on your own? This 2 ½ hour tour is a great introduction to the world of fat tire biking, plus you will get to explore the winter woods of beautiful Jay Cooke St. Park or the adjacent Mission Creek […]

Winter 2017 Adventures

Winter Adventure Saturdays The rivers are frozen but Swiftwater is still open for adventure! This winter, beginning on January 14 through February, Swiftwater Adventures will be offering snowshoe and fat biking adventures in and near Jay Cooke St. Park on Saturdays. Also, we will be offering several special trips to Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minnesota […]

End of the Season: Guides Gone Wild Part 1

In all my years of guiding whitewater rafting trips on the St. Louis River and elsewhere, at least one person on every trip asks us guides, ‘What do we do in the off season?” our answers are just as varied as our personalities and the answers change from year to year. After an action packed […]

Thanks for a Great 2016 Rafting Season!

  “It’s time to move on. It’s time to get going. Under my feet, baby, grass is growing. It’s time to move on. It’s time to get going.” The words of Rock and Roll poet and legend Tom Petty always comes to mind every October as the whitewater rafting and kayaking season comes to a […]

Autumn: Time for Change on the St. Louis River

Fall is beginning to set in and it’s still a great time to come whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River. Last night we had our first frost warning of the year. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler. Soon the leaves will be changing while other subtle changes are happening along […]

Low Water, High Times

Everybody wants to go rafting during the dog days of summer because, at the risk of sounding like Dr. Obvious, being in the water on a hot summer day feels good. August produces a lot of hot days and at the peak of the summer tourist season a lot of people in Duluth, MN want […]

Guide Series: Seeking Solitude on the Beaver River – Part 1

One of the great things about being a guide is that we get to meet people from all walks of life. More often than not, we’re giving people their very first experience with whitewater. This is a really special thing–getting to see people overcome their fears in the first couple of rapids, whooping and hollering […]

Carlton, MN: Small Town Charm, Big Time Recreation

Duluth, Minnesota has a reputation as an outdoor MECCA thanks to all the recreational opportunities created by the rugged landscape, numerous rivers and lakes, and the big attraction: Lake Superior. This well-deserved reputation is also due in no small part to the wonderful community and businesses that have promoted the Zenith City. At Swiftwater Adventures, a lot of our […]

Late Spring on the St. Louis River: Life Returns

At Swiftwater, we do are best to provide an interactive adventure experience for all that go whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River. The river supplies fun and challenging rapids all summer long. Once exposed to the river, it seems that most people are keen on learning more about the river environment, or at the very least appreciate […]

The Primal Scream of Gitchi-Gami Ziibii

This story was written for the One River, Many Stories contest featuring fiction, nonfiction and poetry about the St. Louis River. The following non-fiction story by Cliff Langley was read and recorded for a University of Wisconsin-Superior Public radio broadcast: http://www.wpr.org/shows/wpr-presents- one-river- many-stories The story is about expert kayakers and attempting to paddle a river at flood stage […]

Capturing Your Duluth Whitewater Experience

Whitewater rafting isn’t the first thing to pop into your mind when you picture Duluth, Minnesota. Most people expect to see canal park, a few ore boats, and be on their way. They don’t realize that there’s world class whitewater waiting just 15 minutes south of town! At Swiftwater Adventures we provide a fully guided […]

What to Wear Whitewater Rafting on the St. louis River

What to wear on a rafting trip with us is a question we get a lot. As we all know, weather in the great state of Minnesota can be somewhat unpredictable. Even with a forecast of a 90 degree day it’s still a good idea to have a backup plan in case things don’t turn […]

20 Years of Adventures: From the St. Louis River to across the Sea

I’m writing this because after 20 years of being a professional white water rafting guide on the St. Louis River I’ve heard a multitude of questions regarding the river, professional experiences, and life style of a guide. Questions ranging from “how deep is the water,” what is your favorite water level” to “what do you […]

Whitewater Rafting Duluth, Minnesota: High Water versus Low Water on the St. Louis River

The St. Louis River is runnable all summer long—runnable, meaning you can raft or kayak it. It can be low or we can get heavy rains and it can be high. One thing the St. Louis River does, as all rivers do, is fluctuate depending on precipitation. Peak run off for the St. Louis River […]

Fall Colors on the St. Louis River: Whitewater Rafting Duluth, MN

Sure, summer is over but that doesn’t mean enjoying time on the water has to end just yet. Mid to late September and early October are great times for whitewater rafting near Duluth, Minnesota on the St. Louis River to view the changing colors of the forest. Also, there are a lot of species of […]

Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking Duluth, Minnesota: An Intro to the World of Whitewater Paddling

Some people think that whitewater kayaking or whitewater rafting is this extreme sport suited only for adrenaline junkies but nothing could be farther from the truth. Sure, there are professional paddlers that push the limits of paddling whitewater each day all over the world, running huge rapids and massive waterfalls, but there is more to […]

Whitewater Rafting Duluth, Minnesota: Cultural History of the St. Louis River

The St. Louis River is the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior, coursing some 180 miles from its headwaters in the Superior National Forest before to its confluence with the big lake. The Louis is rich in cultural history, so much so that volumes of work exist on the topic from historians to logging outfits […]

Whitewater Rafting Duluth, Minnesota: Geology of the St. Louis River

Chances are if you decided to click on the link for this blog you might laugh at bad geology puns like the simple but proven oldie “geology rocks”. Really? You want geology puns? Let me dig some up! Insert laugh. You are not a nerd if you like puns or want to learn about geology. […]

Whitewater Rafting Duluth, Minnesota: Ecology of the St. Louis River

Whitewater rafting near Duluth, Minnesota on the St. Louis River will take you through northern hardwood and coniferous forests, typical of the Northern Lakes and Forests Ecoregion. Majestic red and white pines tower over the river like sentinels of the past. Giving us an idea of what northeastern Minnesota forests looked like before the axe […]

Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking in Duluth, Minnesota: 7 Essential Reasons to Whitewater Paddle

Whitewater Rafting and kayaking in Duluth, Minnesota is actually easy to get into with the abundance of lakes and rivers. I first got into paddling by canoeing with my father as a little kid. I enjoyed cruising along in the canoe watching the shore pass by. I loved the beautiful places it took us; each […]

Ecoadventure—Adventure and Environmental Education: Whitewater Rafting Duluth, Minnesota

While we were whitewater rafting near Duluth, Minnesota on the St. Louis River, a large dragonfly landed on the side of the raft. A young woman sitting in the middle of the raft amongst her family raised her hand intent on squashing the insect. “Wait! They eat mosquitoes, deer flies and horse flies!” I said. […]

Whitewater Rafting Duluth, Minnesota: The Benefits of an In-Raft Guide

A lot of tour and adventure companies have professional guides. Being a professional is a label that can be assigned to those that deserve the status and, unfortunately, to those that don’t. It seems that in this day and age if you get paid to do something then you are considered a professional at that […]

Whitewater Rafting Duluth, Minnesota: Paddlemania—St. Louis River Rendezvous

It seemed different but not out of place to be giving a safety speech on the Lower St. Louis River to a group of rafters. It was the first commercial whitewater rafting trip on the Lower section of the St. Louis River. Quick side note if you are going whitewater rafting in Duluth, Minnesota the […]