Safety

A paddler turns a flipped kayak over in a river while others watch.
Be prepared for the unexpected. Try standing up in the river if you capsize and stay upstream of your vessel. Point your feet downstream and float if you can't stand.

NPS/VanTatenhove

Plan Your Trip with Safety in Mind

Enjoy the Namekagon and St. Croix rivers, but do not understimate their power. Water levels can change daily and what you thought was safe today, may not be as safe tomorrow. Be aware, know your abilities, and plan ahead for a great experience. Your safe return from a river trip is a priority.

Cell phone reception is not always available. If you have cell reception, call 911 in emergencies. Call 1-800-PARKTIP if you see a problem.

 

Think Ahead for Your On-the-Water Trip

  • Make a float plan. Put-in and take-out plans should be left with someone who will contact authorities if you are overdue. The average speed for river paddlers is 3 miles per hour. Allow extra time for wind conditions and breaks.
  • Know the abilities of each paddler in your group. Normal conditions are Class I on the International Scale of River Difficulty. However, during periods of high water, classifications can reach Class II and Class III on some river stretches.
  • Check river conditions frequently right before your trip. Pick an alternative stretch of river if conditions are too high or too low. Check the weather forecast.
  • You must have a US Coast Guard approved, properly fitting, life jacket on board your vessel for every adult and child. Children under 13 are required to wear them. Tubes are considered vessels.
  • Bring your own drinking water. Bring extra clothes in case you tip. Don't forget the sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to prevent sunburn.
  • Some basic and smart ideas are listed on a Canoe and Kayak Safety sheet (pdf) including a list of suggested gear.
 

When on the River

  • Wear your life jacket. Children under 13 are required to wear a life jacket.
  • Avoid trees that have fallen in the river. They can catch and overturn your vessel.
  • Use alcohol responsibly. Many river accidents involve alcohol.
  • If you hear thunder or see lightning, get off the water immediately.
  • Protect your feet with river shoes, water sandals, or old shoes.
  • Don't jump from cliffs, bridges, or trees. Water levels and river bottoms change.
 

Safety Onshore

  • Check for ticks often and know the symptoms of Lyme disease. Deer ticks are common along the Riverway and some carry the bacteria that cause the disease.
  • Know how to identify poison ivy and avoid contact.
  • Blastomycosis is a fungal infection that is commonly contracted by dogs and sometimes humans. Avoid digging in moist soils.
  • Store food in bear-proof containers or hang your food where bears and raccoons cannot raid it.
  • Hunting is allowed within the Riverway boundaries. Wear blaze orange during hunting season.
  • Lock your vehicle and keep valuables out of sight. Don't forget your keys!

Last updated: July 3, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

401 North Hamilton Street
St. Croix Falls, WI 54024

Phone:

(715) 483-2274

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