KAYAK the RIVERWAY
With the increasing popularity of kayaking, many canoe outfitters now also carry kayaks. Some are willing to shuttle you with your own kayak as well. Life vests are required for all paddlers. Spray skirts are helpful in cold or rainy weather, but not necessary on most parts of the river. They will keep you drier on the larger rapids and on windy days when there can be waves in open stretches. A paddle float and pump are not necessary either; in most instances it is simplest to go to shore following a capsize.
The St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers are ideally suited for recreational and touring kayaks. With the exception of portages as listed under Canoeing and the whitewater section listed below, kayaks can easily navigate any stretch of the Riverway. While plastic boats can go anywhere, owners of fiberglass or wooden boats may wish to stay below Highway 70 at Grantsburg to avoid shallow, rocky stretches. The upper St. Croix and the entire length of the Namekagon will have some riffles and small rapids - great for the intermediate paddler. Below Highway 70, the St. Croix is a flat-water river - ideal for beginning paddlers. See Canoeing for a thorough description of paddling conditions on each stretch.
There is a small stretch of rapids below the Highway 8 bridge at St. Croix Falls/Taylors Falls suitable for whitewater kayaking. Rodeo and slalom competitions are held each summer. Only experienced whitewater paddlers with helmets should be on this stretch of the river. The best play generally is on the upper section. Optimal river levels at 1700-2300 cfs provide holes and pourovers for cartwheels, spinning, surfing and splats. A strong eddy line on the lower section can be used for eddy wheels and squirts. At 2300-6800 cfs many of the play areas are washed out. At high levels (6800-11500 cfs) a world class retentive hole forms in the lower section providing the opportunity for all freestyle moves.
River levels provides a link to current water conditions on the Riverway.
Canoeing offers other information on river currents, portages, safety, and regulations. Contact the visitor center 715-483-3284 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.