Yearly Archives - 2017

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 down the block from our new office and kayak center). We were busy but we had tons of fun too!

Summer Fun!

The summer of 2017 did not disappoint as far as water levels. May and June were wet as usual and July started off with a bang. Then as water levels started to get low Mother Nature hammered the St. Louis River watershed with heavy rains in mid-August and never let up. That being said we had a superb fall rafting levels too.

In addition to all the fun loving tourists we took rafting we took down school and youth groups, summer camps, Boys and Girl Scouts of America, several different types of non-profit groups, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and corporate team building trips.


Educational Trips

We expanded the number of educational trips we offer for schools and camps this past season working with teachers to incorporate their classroom curriculum into our trips. It’s fun to mix the sciences into an adventure experience. We did trips for physical education classes, biology, ecology, environmental science, sports teams and beyond.

In addition to local school trips, such as Esko, Carlton and Cloquet, we ran some fun trips for the Audubon Center of the North Woods Adventure camp, a special trip for Reach Mentoring kids, literally boatloads of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and several other youth and church camps. Kids, adventure and fun is one of our specialties!


Team Building Adventures

We are also experts in fun and engaging team building trips in which rafting is part of the experiences offered. We have even started a new division dedicated to team building adventures and experiences called Evolve Endeavors. Call us to set up your company’s team building adventure today:


Kayaking Merit Badges

Be prepared: for whitewater. This summer we worked with the Boy Scouts of America to help scouts obtain their kayaking and whitewater merit badges. Being an American Canoe Association certified kayak instructor, we were able to teach scouts the basics of kayaking, from wet exits to paddle strokes. Then we were able to test their skills as we learned to read and navigate whitewater. I was impressed by the energy and enthusiasm the kids had for paddling!


Specialized or Customized Group Trips

We led quite a few customized bachelor and bachelorette parties. We also guided several  specialized trips for organizations such as Team, Red, White and Blue, a fantastic organization that gets veterans and the community out together interacting and having fun and 23rd Veteran.

One group in particular I know we will never forget. We took a group from Blind Inc. rafting. As the name implies, most of the participants were blind but that didn’t stop them from being solid paddlers. One of our biggest challenges was communicating what to expect on the trip while making it fun and safe, and interactive. Blind Inc inpressed us with their enthusiasm and tenacity.


Paddlemania –St Louis River Rendezvous

For the last several years Swiftwater has organized this paddling event held on the St. Louis River in correlation with Carlton Daze in Carlton, MN.

The 2017 event had the most racers and spectators to date! The Blast to the Bridge expert kayak race featured 32 racers. Throughout the weekend there were hundreds of spectators. And a couple of dozen teams competed in the Team Rafting event on Sunday. Thanks to our great sponsors and volunteers:


Swiftwater Office and Kayak/SUP Rental Center

One thing that was completely new for 2017 was our new office and kayak center in Carlton, MN near the Upper St. Louis River take out/Thomson Reservoir. This is our office location, obviously as the name implies, as well as where many of our whitewater kayak lessons meet at.

We also rent out sit on top kayaks and Stand Up Paddle boards (SUPs) to use on the Thomson Reservoir. This 475 acre reservoir is a man-made lake created by the Thomson dam. This body of water is where the St. Louis River spills into the reservoir ending the rafting trip but there is so much left to explore. With several rocky, pine covered islands and rugged shoreline and the Midway River also flowing into the reservoir there is paddling adventures to be had!

Look for our spring 2018 blogs for a preview of what to expect and what’s new for 2018!

Book your whitewater rafting adventure on the St. Louis River now online.

See you on the river!


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 are not listed in detail, or as a guide, but more as a suggestion for which you can further investigate and make your own adventure.

Autumn Whitewater Rafting on the St. Louis River

For starters I love whitewater rafting and kayaking on the St. Louis River in the fall. Typically, as the leaves change color the trees and plants soak up less water and fall rains have more of an impact in the St. Louis watershed, so river levels usually rise from fall rains. I also really like that mosquitos taper off. They aren’t really an issue when rafting along the St. Louis River but if you go in the woods for any length of time they will find you in peak summer months. In the fall bugs bugger off!

Fall Mountain Biking

If you haven’t tried mountain biking or you did years ago and left it to the wayside: dude, you are missing out! Mountain biking is the bees knees! Mt. biking does’nt require mountains to ride, in fact some of the best flow or technical trails aren’t even ion mountain towns but are in our just on the outskirts of Duluth!

International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) has labeled Duluth as a Gold Rider location/destination for trails. With well over 100 miles, thanks to COGGS, of quality trails for beginners to the veteran shredder you won’t be disappointed. The new age of mountain biking is here and its fast, flowy, friendly, and fun.

Even with fall rains, there just seems to be a lot of dry days (equating to dry trails) to ride so fall is a superb time to get out and ride. Visit Cyclists of Gitchie Gumme Shores (COGGS) website to learn more about the trails, locations, conditions and maps:

If you don’t have a bike and want to rent or buy one contact one of these business in Duluth: The Ski Hut, Continental Ski and Bike, Twin Ports Cyclery, Stewarts Bike Shop, Galleria Bikes or Carlton Bike and Rental. If you are looking to hire a guide service contact the Duluth Experience or Day Tripper of Duluth.

Fall hiking

Really, anywhere with trees and a descent view work for me as far as a hiking adventure go. I love hiking around Oldenberg overlook and the Ogantz trail in Jay Cooke St. Park for breathtaking vistas of the Dalles of the St. Louis River. The Superior Hiking trail also heads north from the park.

The Supeior Hiking trail (SHT) is a Swiss Army Knife of hiking options: ancient forests, urban adventure day hikes in its Duluth sections, incredible vistas of Lake Superior, cascading rivers and canyons, rocky outcrops and rugged hiking, and long stretches of wilderness.  If you haven’t hiked any of this gem, then get some hikers together and go.

Almost all of the state parks from Jay Cooke heading north along Lake Superior’s north shore to the Canadian border will have trail maps of that park and the SHT. I also suggest purchasing Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail put out by the SHT Trail Association. This guide book has maps, a synopsis of each section, points of interest and their mile markers and good stories. Visit SHTs website for more resources:

Fall BWCA Trip

After having spent two decades of exploring the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness I have found that I love autumn there the most. And while I have not been to every single lake, nook or cranny, I have explored a fare bit and I have a few choice spots of which I try to hit each fall.

Obviously wilderness traveling by canoe requires some experience and careful planning at the very least. I don’t suggest you just pack up with reckless abandon and little to no experience and go, but you don’t have to be a hardened wilderness warrior to go either. I suggest either hiring a guide or guiding service if it’s your first time. This way an experienced wilderness traveler to set you up for success. If you have some canoeing experience this could be a helpful article on preparing for a BWCA trip:

This is of course a quick summary of some of my fall favorites, but if you are headed up to Duluth or beyond this coming fall then I highly suggest you come rafting on the St. Louis River to kick off your northern Minnesota adventure.

See you on the river…or trails!


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 had brought one of my favorite north shore (Minnesota’s shoreline of Lake Superior) streams to runnable levels. The Beaver River has branches that join just upstream of Highway 61. Shortly after their confluence there is over a mile of what many kayakers consider ‘hyper gnar,’ which is usually class V+ rapids where the margin of error is death. So it doesn’t get run a whole lot.

The East Beaver, a few miles upstream, has a slightly friendlier vibe of the class III to V- variety. The best part of the East Beaver is a sequence of three waterfalls in a continuous sequence. Between each drop is a moving pool of water about 20’ in length. The first falls, a steeply sloped drop of about 15’ with a complex lead in. The second falls: a 16’ vertical drop into a highly aerated pool. Finally, the third falls drops about 12’ vertical feet. For a skilled boater this is the stuff of paddling dreams.

With a weekday free from responsibilities and water in our favorite north shore creek fellow guide Cory ‘The Moonman’ Mooney and I packed up our gear and headed north. There is something about heading north on 61 along Lake Superior that creates a sense of wonder. Sure it’s the beautiful scenery, cascading streams, and rugged topography but also excitement.

We set shuttle via bike and put on the East Beaver. The river starts out as a swift flowing and narrow creek with alder brush and willows growing along the banks. Right before we entered the continuous class III and IV section of rapids leading to the falls we spotted a dark colored, rotund creature slide into the water. With an angry slap of its tail we instantly knew it was a beaver. How suiting to meet the critter in which the stream was named after.

The angry beaver swam off as we dropped into continuous rapids, eddy hopping as we navigated through slides and boulder garden rapids. After about a mile or so we came to a distinct horizon line and one of my favorite places anywhere.

We got out of our kayaks and scouted on river right above the first falls to make sure there wasn’t wood or other obstructions. On river left a tall white pine towered above and the late afternoon sun hit the mist of the falls just right to create a rainbow: north shore perfection!

“That’s a good sign,” I said. Moonman nodded in agreement then said “Ladies, first,” insinuating that I take the honors of taking the plunge first.

In my best southern bell voice I said “Why thank you, sir,” and headed back to my boat.

I took a few slow and controlled breaths as I snapped my spray skirt into place envisioning my line, then slid into the river. I charged far right to make my line, towards a small flake of rock. I took a left paddle stoke sending me out far from the base of the falls and sailing into the landing pool below. I waited in that frothy pool watching Moonman nail his line too.

We hung out in that foamy eddy for a few moments to take in the sights then I peeled out into the current. As the bow of my kayak floated over the lip of the drop I took a left stroke simultaneously bringing my knees up towards my chest (called a boof stroke to keep one’s bow from penciling into the water) sending me off the falls landing almost flat into the pool below. I put my paddle up in the air vertically signaling all was good to go. Moonman sent it off the drop in perfect form.

Now that both of us were below the second drop the true session was about to take place. On river left the river forms a small cave with a shelf allowing a kayaker to paddle up and into the cave, step out, carefully and skillfully, onto the small shelf then scramble up a small natural staircase like a Sherpa to the pool above the second drop. Long story short: you can carry up and run the second drop over and over!

We sessioned that drop until our legs got sore from hiking up. The sheer fun of that drop and the beauty of that spot make it hard to leave but we had other waterfalls calling our names so it was time to move on. We peeled out (when a kayaker leaves an eddy and enters the current) and slid off the last drop excited to finish the run. We had one last bid waterfall to run as an evening nightcap: Ilgen Falls. That 30’ beast on the Baptism River only 15 minutes to the north, but alas fellow whitewater enthusiasts that is a story for another day.

We drove home that night tired and stoked from a day of whitewater adventures on Lake Superior’s north shore. When those north shore rivers run you must answer the call and head north: get it when it’s good!

Luckily we have the St. Louis River for our steady dose of whitewater rafting and  kayaking and to keep our skills up for when the rains come we are ready!


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 anywhere is the U.S., rivers are at lower flows. Except for mid-August of 2017: the script got flipped.

August of 2017 started out like most, mid to low flows on the upper St. Louis River, just 15 minutes south of Duluth, MN. The Louis has a large watershed, about 3,600 square miles, draining massive wetland systems and dozens of tributaries. Over the course of the summer, as August is typically a dryer month, less water flows into the St. Louis River and eventually Lake Superior. On August 19th, 2017 Mother Nature turned the water back on with some big rains and the Louis spiked to over 8,ooo cfs! These are flows you typically see in a wet June.

From that August day on we had high to healthy medium flows the remainder of the season. Amongst the flurry of trips I recall a nervous mom. Her husband and kids, a well- mannered, fun loving crew, had signed up and dragged mom along for the action. They had originally talked her into the trip despite her not being fond of rapids. Additionally, she had her personal reservations about going once we told her it was high water at check in. After some prodding by her family, and us explaining our experience and safety record, she relented and got outfitted for the trip.

As we were outfitting her she asked the trip leader where was the safest place to sit? His reply, “On shore.” She didn’t laugh, everyone else did. After that we told her the back of the raft got splashed a little bit less than the front so she should sit there.

During the pre-river safety speech we could tell she was still nervous, paddling the flatwater she still looked nervous, and running the first rapid ‘The Wave,” which washes out at high flows, she still looked nervous. All along their in-raft guide reassured her she would be fine as long as she paddled hard and leaned into the larger waves. Her family seemed to take pleasure in her nervousness, not in a sadistic way but more like this was the usual for family outings.

It didn’t take long for things to get ‘real.’ Real fun, real splashy, and a little bit scary for mom. As their raft drifted into “Two Hole” rapid the family could see the wave train leading into it and the mom screamed “Oh my God!” as the raft dropped into the trough of the wave, a large head high, breaking wave.  As the front of the raft began to climb up the wave the top of  it crashed, soaking everyone on it, including Nervous Mom. As the raft broke through the wave there were hoots and hollers.

“Is that the worst rapid out here?” Nervous Mom asked. Her guide’s reply “That was a big one but there some bigger ones. Don’t worry. You all did great. Just keep paddling hard and lean it to it and you are golden!” She cracked a nervous smile, but a smile none the less.

Nervous Mom pressed on and did great! After running the next few rapids I paddled up to Nervous Mom’s raft on the reservoir as the trip was wrapping up. She was all smiles and admitted that despite her fears she was glad that she went and was looking forward to a cold adult beverage.

At Swiftwater Adventures we strive to make our whitewater rafting trips on the St. Louis River as safe, fun and engaging as possible. Whether its high water or low water we know everyone is different so we try our darnedest to provide you and your crew the best time possible relative to your group dynamic.

So next time you are in or near Duluth, MN come see us on the St. Louis River for action and adventure.

See you on the river!


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 in Minnesota in general, the St. Louis River is where you would go. Anyways, we had rafted the Lower with our team several times to train our guides and dial in the trip. Now (2 years ago) we were doing a trip to kick off to the 2015 Paddlemania—St. Louis River Rendezvous Event.

Paddlemania—St. Louis River Rendezvous is a two part name because it is the marriage of two whitewater events. Paddlemania was established 18 years ago through the efforts of Joerg Steinbach and support through whitewater kayak outfitters and companies. It began on the St. Croix River and eventually made it to the St. Louis River six years ago. The goal of Paddlemania was to bring kayakers together to demo boats, have a fun race, enjoy whitewater of Minnesota and to hang out.

The St. Louis Rendezvous has been around since the 1990’s. It originated as a slalom event and later added a whitewater freestyle competition. Since then whitewater playboats have changed and the highway 210 feature was no longer desirable for playboaters to demonstrate their freestyle moves. The flood of 2012 had also put the kibosh on it.

In 2014 Swiftwater Adventures teamed up with the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Recreational and Outdoor Sports Program to bring back paddling events to the region. Through the support of dozens of great sponsors and volunteers Paddlemania—St. Louis River Rendezvous was back in a new way. Our goal was to showcase whitewater rafting and kayaking near Duluth, Minnesota and to bring the paddling community together.

Below is the lineup for the 2017 Paddlemania Event on the weekend of Juky 29th and July 30th coinciding with Carlton Daze in Carlton, MN. For more info or to register in advance visit:

Saturday, July 29th

10:00am to 12:00pm Racer Check In.

12:30pm Race Safety Staff Meeting

12:45pm Racer Meeting

1:00pm Boaters head to Start

1:15pm First Kayaker launches

4:00pm Slot Machine Showcase Showdown

7:00pm Grill Out and Awards Swiftwater Adventures office and kayak center (adjacent to Outpost/ event HQ).

Blast to the Bridge Race: Watch expert kayakers navigate class III to IV+ rapids as they race down the lower St. Louis River to the Swinging Bridge in Jay Cooke St. Park. Best time wins! Racers can register here.

Slot Machine Showcase Showdown: A narrow falls that can be tricky to negotiate without getting stuck in the bottom. Watch as expert paddlers take a gamble by either beating the odds and clearing the base of the falls or letting the house win by getting stuck.
Sunday, July 30th

Team Freestyle Rafting Event: Get your team of four together. An experienced paddler appointed to you by the event Safety Team will steer your raft as you work together to obtain eddies, ferries, peel outs, and surf your way to points while rafting the lower St. Louis River.

Raft teams with the most points wins their heat.

9:30am Team Rafting check in begins. Check in is 30 minutes prior top each heat

10:00am 1st Heat
11:30am Second Heat
1:00pm Third Heat
2:30pm Fourth heat
To register your team of 4 please email: [email protected]
There are only 4 teams per heat so space is limited, sign up soon!
Swiftwater Adventures will be supplying the rafts and equipment and some of the guides for the Team rafting, the other guides will come from a pool of experienced paddlers appointed by the event committee. Some experienced paddlers will be bringing their own raft and teams.

Everyone must register to race.

See you on the river!


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 guides to enhance your experience. We strive to make your trip a wilderness and whitewater adventure! We truly believe we offer one of the best adventures in the Duluth area. Come see for yourself!

Whitewater kayaking: we will be offering whitewater kayaking lessons and an introduction trip again this year. For people’s first time in a whitewater kayak we push them towards the Introduction to Whitewater Kayaking. This 2 ½ hour experience will teach you some basic strokes and concepts, the wet exit and the opportunity (challenge by choice) to run a couple of class II(+) rapids.

After the intro, if kayaking strikes your fancy, then we offer lessons and can help push you in the right direction to meet other kayakers. Either way, we can offer you a whitewater adventure near Duluth, MN.

Kayak and and Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) rentals on Thomson Reservoir

The Thomson Reservoir is like a miniature Boundary Waters Canoe Area with rocky islands, tall pines and wildlife, except you don’t need a permit for this adventure. The reservoir is formed from the upper St. Louis River and the Thomson Dam creating a beautiful 470 acre lake.

Our office and adventure center located at 121 Vermilion Street in Carlton,MN is only a block away from the Thomson Reservoir. If you don’t have the means to move the kayaks or SUPs our staff can drop them off at the reservoir for you. So whether you are camping in Jay Cooke St. Park just down the road or staying in Duluth we are close by for a paddling adventure.

Fishing Trips with our friend Farout Flyfishing

Our rafting and fishing buddy Brian Porter knows how to paddle and land fish. Try fly fishing for small mouth bass on the St. Louis River this summer! Visit his website to hook into a good time:

We offer a variety of paddling adventures for you in 2017. Whether its whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River near Duluth, MN or whitewater kayaking, a serene paddle on the Thomson Reservoir, or a fly fishing trip on the St. Louis, summer is hear and the time is now!

Call or book online!


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 effort to strive towards excellence on every trip

With the above in mind, here are a few ways we strive for excellence on every professionally guided whitewater rafting trip on the St. Louis River, which is just 15 minutes south of Duluth, MN for you vacationers and for you locals: why haven’t you come rafting yet?!

Fun and Safety are our number one goals. Safety comes first: you aren’t having fun if you are hurt or in real danger. Our trip leaders have intimate knowledge of the St. Louis River, know the right lines in the rapids at the varying levels to hit the best waves and avoid dangerous river obstacles. We train our guides to know these lines and to handle a variety of whitewater and wilderness scenarios.

Our trip leaders are certified in Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder, these are first aid courses on steroids! Plus we have seen the gambit of injuries over the years on the river and have gotten pretty good at avoiding them.

We also train our guides to be as personable as possible and encourage them to interact with you, and answer any question you have about paddling or the river ecosystem.

Experience: Our trip leaders have decades of combined experience guiding whitewater rafting trips on the St. Louis River and other adventures in the Duluth, MN area and beyond. the more you have seen and experienced the more apt you are at dealing with problems, or even better recognizing a problem developing and handling it before it becomes an issue.

Read more about our guides here:

Interactive experience: we strive to make the trip about you and your crew. You are the trip. You and your crew are the engine for that raft; you are paddling your way down. It’s up to you to work with the guide to navigate the river. We also encourage you to take advantage of our knowledge of the natural history of the St. Louis River.

In addition, we add in a few extra experiences with in the trip to give you a whitewater and wilderness adventure experience. From the adventure swim, to the option for a brief side hike, and more, we strive to give you a fun safe time, every time!

If you have been whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River with us before we hope we have you an excellent trip and for those that haven’t taken a float with us what are you waiting for?

Call or book online now!


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 temperatures. With little snow we wondered if the Lester River would even be a run from snow melt. Hiking along the river it was evident that it was not at a high flow but there was plenty of water to kayak it and the next two days would be even warmer. That night we made the call: the 2017 Lester River Race would take place on Saturday, April 1st 2017, no fooling!


The Lester River is unique in comparison to other whitewater runs on the north shore of Lake Superior as it runs through a park in Duluth allowing for road side access. This also makes for quick access to the river for paddling and for easy spectating for a race. Sure, the St. Louis River 15 minutes to the south of Duluth has great access and runs all summer long for whitewater rafting and kayaking but the Lester doesn’t. The Lester River typically only runs in the spring from snow runoff and rains. Its short window for paddling creates a sense of urgency to paddle it and kicks off the paddling season as it’s usually the first north shore creek to open up.


2017 was the 5th annual Lester River Race, an expert kayak race on the class IV to V creek. In years past there have been all sorts of flows, one year we even did the race on the Lower St. Louis River because of a lackluster snow pack. We were stoked that we could get a race in 2017 under similar, poor snowpack conditions.


20 racers, including one women with spicy tenacity and equal skill, Cassie Gonzalez, raced down the river. Being a timed racer, rather than a free for all boater-cross style, a racer would launch every minute. This is where things get interesting as racers sprint through 8 rapids. The class IV to V drops sport names like ‘Naked Man,’ a challenging sequence of ledges named after nude people that hang out there in the summer.


The last two rapids (located directly across from the Lester Park Golf Course parking lot) are arguably the most difficult for kayakers to navigate and are also the easiest to spectate. Dozens of people were along the river banks or the cliffs above cheering on the racers as they sprinted through the last rapids to the finish line.


Any year that such a race takes place on a difficult whitewater run there are usually a few swims or minor injuries (the rhyolite bedrock of the Lester River is unforgiving to human flesh). Fortunately in 2017 there were neither. However, it was a close race, just look at the times for the top 5 racers (including a tie for second):

1.John McConville 10:37 2. Marty Halvorson 11:11 2. Ryan Zimny 11:11

  1. Brian Robin 11:12 5. Joel Decker 11:29

If you are hoping to be a spectator for next year visit:

Also, thanks to all our sponsors: Swiftwater Adventures, RPM Online Solutions, Accent Paddles, City of Duluth, American Canoe Association, Bent Paddle Brewing, Northland Paddlers Alliance, Third Base Bar, River Inn Bar and Grill, and Duluth Coffee.


If you would like to check out some expert whitewater kayaking this summer visit This event takes place on the St. Louis River during the last weekend of July. There is even a team rafting event where teams of 4 can sign up to compete. No paddling experience: don’t worry a professional guide from Swiftwater Adventures steers your crew through the course. Get your friends or work colleagues together to team raft the St. Louis River.


Hope to see you on the water!


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 on the St. Louis River.

Even the most bold and adventurous can at times get stuck in a cycle of regularity. This isn’t the same as having a routine, such working out in the morning or brushing your teeth each night. This is about existing in a regularity free of risk, of avoiding new challenges, of living only in your comfort zone. Staying in our comfort zone too long can cause us to go stagnant and we cease to grow. It’s when we venture outside of our comfort zone through new experiences that we can grow.

The following are a few tips to help you step out of your comfort zone:

Calculated Risks and Baby Steps

Coming out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean you have to take a massive jump into the unknown. For example, if you have never run before and throw yourself into a marathon without any training you aren’t likely to finish. Although you did get a new experience, you might not get the benefits you would have if you had trained first. It’s OK to take baby steps in some areas, such as physically taking on something new. In intellectual realms you just might have to dive into the abyss. Just try to use your best judgement when it comes to calculated risks or ask an expert.

In this instance a guided adventure, such as whitewater rafting or another of our facilitated adventures can help you take a first (and safe) step.

Seek Supportive People Out

Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. That’s the beauty of having a supportive cast. Whether its friends, family, leading experts or an adventure facilitator (like me) there are people out there that you can talk to and get the support you need to face new challenges. If you want to try whitewater kayaking out and you are a little nervous, which is normal, then find an instructor. Find an expert, a new friend, anyone (trustworthy) that can help you try something new.

It’s OK to Look a Little Silly

Just accept that when you try something new you may look a little (or a lot) foolish as you are not an expert in this new activity. Most successful people will tell you that once they stopped worrying about what other people thought of them they enjoyed life more. Just try your best and not worry about the outcome but just be in the moment.

Speaking of looking silly, I have yet to see anyone look cool in photos of people whitewater rafting the Electric Ledge rapid on the St. Louis River. Those that smile at least are having fun, while looking silly!

Be Brave

Accept that fact that you will be nervous or afraid when you try something new. It does require bravery to venture out of our comfort zones, but if we truly want to grow we must take the risk and face our fears. Remember bravery isn’t the absence of fear but the fortitude to continue on in the face of it.

Visualize Success

They say if you go there in the mind the body will follow. Visualize your success, whatever that new experience is. Imagine you are doing it well and all the feelings of joy that accompany it.

We could write volumes on ways to venture out of our comfort zones but I think we have a good start, or at the very least some simple guideline to follow.

The team building adventures Swiftwater Adventures and our sister company Evolve Endeavors offer are about taking you and your team out of the regularity of the office, the safe places we have in the physical world and in our minds, and experiencing new challenges. No risk, no biscuit!

Contact us today to book your rafting trip or team building adventure!


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 offer adventures in addition to rafting catered to your groups’ physical, cognitive, and creative abilities. Whether your custom experience is more physical, or more on the cognitive side of things, or a healthy mix our goal is always to have fun while we grow as a team.

The goal of this blog is to help us understand the immediate and lasting benefits of adventure based programming, in this case whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River and more! Let’s jump in!

Fun and engaging challenges focused on achieving a common goal is our main theme at Swiftwater for team building trips. Safety is of course our number one priority, as our adventures are all guided, with our lead facilitator involved throughout, yet there is just enough calculated risk to keep everyone engaged. Most of our adventures require some physical element, such as hiking or paddling.  Regardless of the level of physicality our adventures always have a cognitive and creative problem solving element to them

Let’s also accept the fact that you probably work a lot. Work can be hard and exhausting sometimes so if you and your team can have some fun while you challenge your selves then why not?!

Teams are forced to delegate responsibilities, cooperate and contribute in adventure based programming. A successful team assigns clear and defined goals and roles for the team. Through balanced participation and cooperation team members can successfully take on any challenge. Our challenges (whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River is just one of them) are designed in such a way that without designated roles and cooperation success is elusive: participants must work together.

Utilizing creative problem solving in an adventure setting helps your team value its diversity of people and ideas, foster more innovative thinking while under pressure, and helps participants find success outside of their comfort zone.

Build relationships, trust and respect and open communication through fun adventures by working towards a clear and common goal. This can be especially true if your team has several new members. Regardless of whether your team has several new members or you have all known each other for years, being immersed in a new environment and facing new problems will require open communication and cooperation to succeed. All of which fosters trust and respect, which must be earned.

Forge a team while creating a memorable experience through fun and challenging adventures. Not only can we supply your company with a fun adventure but new experiences tend to create lasting memories and something that your team can look back and reflect on.

Adventure based programming is a fun way to grow as a team and make memories!

Swiftwater Adventures can offer more exciting and engaging team building adventures to pair up with whitewater rafting through our sister company Evolve Endeavors.

Contact us today to book your team building experience!