The suns out and summer is here! That can only mean one thing, it’s time to break out the swim suits, paddles, and get some friends together on a water adventure! Being the land of 10,000 lakes and loaded with rivers, Minnesota has countless destinations you need to get to. Be it on a kayak, canoe, tube, SUP or raft, nothing beats a day out on the water with friends. We’ve put together your ultimate list of Minnesota water adventures you need to see! Check them out below and share with your friends!
Head Waters of the Mississippi (Itasca State Park) – Maps
The mighty Mississippi is the country’s largest river, and it gets its start right here in the great state of Minnesota. Beginning its journey from Itasca Lake, the massive river starts as a mere trickle before it flows down the country. Exploring the pristine lake is breathtaking. The wildlife is abundant and fishing is amazing. On any given day in the summer you can see a family of loons, ducks, geese, swans and even bald eagles.
The wilderness of the Itasca region engulfs you. It’s also loaded with hiking and bike trails along the lakes and river for even more adventure possibilities. When you make it out to Itasca, there’s only one stop you’ll need to make – Itasca Sports Inc. Being the largest bicycle and boat rental in a single location in Minnesota, they have kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, pontoons, SUP’s and more to explore this beautiful area. Family owned, and you’re family when you come and visit!
Blue Earth River – Maps
A tributary of the Minnesota River, the Blue Earth River is a must visit, offering some pristine whitewater excitement throughout the trip. Also abundant with wildlife, great for fishing, and packed with scenic views, the Blue Earth has it all. When you’re not taking in the scenery, there are multiple spots along the way with class I-II rapids.
When hitting up the Blue Earth, you need to look no further than Bent River Outfitters. Their Blue Earth River trips include 17 different waterfalls, 11 class I-II rapids, and 300 natural springs for an unreal experience. They have full service for kayak, canoes, and SUP’s rentals along the Blue Earth and also do full moon floats down the river!
Root River – Maps
The Root River flows through some of the most scenic landscapes of Southeastern Minnesota and needs to be on your adventure to-do list. A slow moving river the majority of the way, it does offer a couple small rapids occasionally to push you along. The Root also has abundant wildlife, including white tail deer, wild turkey, bald eagles, and even black bears have been spotted along the way.
Being a lazy float, it’s ideal to perfect to get a group together and spend a day out on the water with friends. Be it on a kayak, canoe, or submersed in a tube (best way to beat the heat), you’ll need to make it out on the Root. And when you do, the team over at Root River Outfitters will have everything you need for your adventure out on the river.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area (West Region) – Maps
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) is both a Minnesota and national treasure being one of the most sought after destinations in the country to explore on the water. Located in Northeast Minnesota covering over 1.3 million acres, 1200 miles of canoe routes, 3000 designated campsites, and 88 different entry points; the possibilities at the BWCA are endless.
The fishing here is so good it’s almost unbelievable, so taking your pole out with you is a must. We’re talking world-class walleye, bass, and northern pike. The wildlife and scenic views here are breathtaking as you’re surrounded by the wilderness. Undeveloped and pristine, your experience here is unlike anything else in the state. To explore the BWCA, you’ll need a permit. So make sure and contact the team over at Spirit of the Wilderness in Ely, MN, as they have permits and are a full service outfitter for the Boundary Waters with rentals and professional guides. They service multiple entry points within the famous waters, and have everything you’ll need!
Kettle River – Maps
When you’re looking for a whitewater experience in Minnesota, the Kettle River has got to be on you list! Designated a “Scenic and Wild” River, the Kettle is free flowing without dams and depends mostly on rainfall. The Kettle combines thrilling white water drops and scenic flat water areas giving paddlers time to take in the amazing scenery and have excitement along the way.
You’ll come across rapids like Mother’s Delight, the Dragon’s Tooth ,Blueberry slide and also the famous Hell’s Gate. Known to be the most treacherous stretch of rapids on the Kettle, the Hells’ Gate Canyon is also the most beautiful and remote part of the river. You’ve gotta make it out here and Tony and his crew over at Hardwater Sports have all you’ll need to hit the river and conquer the rapids. Full service, and their trips hit all the rapids!
Cannon River – Maps
Designated as a wild and scenic river, a trip down the Cannon is a perfect scenic river float. A lazy trip, you’ll only come across class I rapids which are perfect to kick back, relax, and soak up the sun. With sandbars lining the shores, you’ll have plenty spots to pull off for lunch, take a break, and explore. Beautiful scenery surrounds you throughout the trip with rolling hills, massive river boulders, and bluffs lining the shores.
The Cannon also makes out to have some of the best river fishing you can find. With a slow but strong current, you’re able to hop in the water and let the river float you down the entire trip. Hopping in an inner tube and floating down the Cannon is a perfect for beating the heat. When you make it out to the Cannon, the crew over at Welch Mill has tube, kayak, and canoe rentals and will make sure your time out on the Cannon is well spent!
Boundary Waters Canoe Area (East Region) – Maps
The East section of the Boundary Water Canoe Area follows suite with its neighbor in offering out of this world paddling experiences. Countless adventures await you. Be it paddling creeks leading into one of the multiple lakes, exploring peaceful bays perfect camping, or spending a day fishing in one of the best destinations for anglers in the country, your time spent here will always leave you planning your next trip back.
Of course, the scenery and wildlife here is breathtaking, you could come across moose, deer, black bears, wolves, and more! The BWCA is some of the most pristine wilderness you can come across, exploring this magical destination needs to be on your list. Whether you’re looking for a canoe, kayak or SUP rental, a guided kayak tour or BWCA outfitting package, you’ll want to connect with Sawtooth Outfitters in Tofte. Their staff knows the Boundary Waters and many other local paddle spots like the back of their hand, and can help you find the perfect gear for your trip and point you to the best spot to begin your adventure!
Mississippi River Valley (Minneapolis Skyline) – Maps
There’s nothing quite like exploring the great city of Minneapolis while paddling along the Mississippi. Pair that with the scenic beauty of the Mississippi River Valley, it’s a must for anyone in the Minneapolis area. Be it hitting the channel and exploring throughout downtown or experiencing the best view of the skyline that the city has to offer, you’re going to be left in amazement. It’s not all city either. You’re hit with beautiful limestone cliffs and white sand beaches right in the heart of Minneapolis.
You can even paddle through the city into Minnehaha Park and end your float at the beautiful Minnehaha Falls. When you make out here, make sure and stop by Above the Falls Sports. They have all your paddle needs, service multiple trips every day of the week, and will make sure your time out on the Mississippi is prefect! Also known to be great with handling big groups, they got you covered for corporate events, bachelor/ette parties, birthday parties, or just a day out on the water with friends!
Quetico Wilderness Waters – Maps
Bordering just north of the Boundary Waters, Quetico Provincial Park is in Canada and offers out of this world canoeing. Just like the Boundary Waters, you’re engulfed by untouched wilderness, and are left in awe. With over 2,000 campsites scattered throughout, you have multiple options to stay and explore the pristine wilderness. The fishing here? Of course it’s amazing.World class walleye, bass, northern pike, and lake trout all await you.
Quetico is an exceptional experience, making it out there is a must! Just as with the Boundary Waters, a permit is necessary to paddle Quetico, meaning you’ll have to work with one of the outfitters that services the majestic area. Contact Spirit of the Wilderness, in Ely, MN. for professional routing, guide service, outfitting, reserving your permit, and more. Experts of these waters, their motto of making “memories of a lifetime” is just what you’ll do when you visit!
There you have it, your ultimate guide to the amazing summer adventures of Minnesota. Make this a memorable year out on the water. Hitting the water allows you to experience the outdoors in a way like no other. Hit up some friends, make some plans, and get ready to on an adventure.