Published: Apr 15, 2021

The Story of Swiftwater Adventures

Since our inception, our goal at Swiftwater has always been to supply whitewater rafting adventures to anyone and everyone, no experience necessary. Our objective for those adventures is to make them safe, fun and interactive as possible. From families and friends, to youth groups and company outings, we want all kinds of people on the river having fun, and do so in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Swiftwater Adventures is guide owned and operated. It was founded in 2014 by guide, kayaker and naturalist Cliff Langley; long time guide and world traveler Luke Aker; and guide, wood working aficionado, and music professor Brian Pfeifer. With well over 50 years of river running experience between the three of us we wanted safety and fun to be our number one goal. We also wanted to create an immersive, interactive experience where everyone is part of the trip rather than just an observer.

We when were starting Swiftwater, and still ever evolving to this day, we looked back on our experiences guiding on the St. Louis River. We analyzed what we liked and disliked, what we could streamline, what to make safer, where we could insert more interactive fun, and we looked elsewhere too. For example, Cliff had worked in Costa Rica for an adventure company, Costa Rica Rios, and really liked their take on ecotourism and interactive adventure. We also paddled and experienced other rafting destinations in places like Colorado, Montana, Washington, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alaska. Every place, river, and rafting company is different so we found things we liked, such as an appreciation for the natural history of the river, and inserted them into our trips. We decided on the Swiftwater method is to provide a fun, safe and interactive adventure experience.

As far as safety and fun are concerned: We learned the value of in raft guides the hard way. Brian, Cliff and Luke all worked for a company called Superior Whitewater back in the day. The unique thing about SW was that there was no guide in the raft (sounds crazy, yes). The guides/trip leaders were in kayaks and they verbally coached you down the river. If a family showed up it was usually dad who was given a literal crash course on how to steer a raft, then follow us down the river. We were good at the safety briefing and getting people down the river safely but it was often an exercise in frustration for both the clients and the guides. When we started Swiftwater an in-raft guide became a necessary!!

We train our guides in swiftwater rescue, reading and running whitewater, paddling skills, communication skills, and the art of fun! Having an in-raft guide not only allows everyone to just focus on paddling and the guide’s commands, but it’s safer. All equating to more fun! Additionally, we have each trip led by an experienced safety kayaker to ensure high safety standards and quality control.

Our veteran guides and trip leaders aren’t just experienced in the art of whitewater but also in natural history of the river. For those that are interested they can learn more about the river ecosystem. We also offer you mini adventures within the rafting adventure, like the adventure swim, raft surfing, side hike, and more! We do so with our challenge by choice philosophy: you can participate in the extra adventures or chose not to. The objective of all these is to create and interactive adventure that is more than just rafting. Sometimes the river is big water class III+ action and it’s all consuming, and sometimes the first few are class II+ rapids and the last 3 class III technical so things slow down a bit and you can do extra. Regardless of the flows, we strive to give you a fun experience every time!

Today, we have a great staff of veteran guides and new talent trained in the art of fun, safe and interactive adventures. It’s an ever evolving process as we try to better ourselves each day. Click on About Us to learn more about our trip leaders and guides.

Category(s): Blog Posts