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I explored the Kettle River for my first time this spring. Along with paddling friends Marty, Carl, and Jerome. While this river is friendly for many skills levels and easy to boat/land scout at lower water, it was really nice to have Jerome show us the lines and all the fun spots. There were lots of paddlers the weekend we were there as it was The Kettle River Fest. Check out this event here;

One of the many kettles on the Kettle River.

Paddling this stretch of river, I can see why its called the Kettle. There are numerous holes “kettles” of all sizes along the sandstone rock formations which flank both sides of most rapids. Some are so large you can fit several paddlers into just one kettle.

The section we paddled is easily accessible through Banning State Park just minutes off of I35 near Sandstone, MN. Check out Minnesota State Parks for more info and history of Banning State Park

There are five rapids through Banning State Park; Blueberry Slide, Mother’s Delight, Dragon’s Tooth, Little Banning and Hell’s Gate. Then a flatwater paddle to one more rapid, Quarry Rapid, at the take out at Robinson Park. The run is a little over 4 miles in length.

With levels on the lower side, I knew I wanted to paddle my Antix. It was the perfect choice for me. I could surf, zip around eddies, and work on stern squirts too. I didn’t find any blueberries at blueberry slide, maybe they weren’t in-season yet. I’m not sure my mother would find delight in running rapids, but it was beautiful non-the-less. I ran right over the dragon’s tooth, remembering that sandstone is not slippery! Hell’s Gate was my favorite. It had a fun little room of doom at the entrance to a big kettle/bluff. Below Hell’s Gate there were really fun and deep eddy lines for stern squirts.

Hell’s Gate.

Marty at Hell’s Gate

Its easy to see why paddlers love the Kettle River and Banning State Park. There’s plenty to do and see for the whole family too. Thanks for showing us down the Kettle River Jerome. It’s a beautiful river!

Check out the video below.

-Hannah Ray J