By Jim Umhoefer
Pine County, Four miles north of Sandstone Park entrace is off I-35 and Highway 23. Highway map index: K-12.
It's common to see experienced kayakers practice for hours in the challenging Kettle River rapids. The river flows for 10 miles through the long, slender park, but it's the two miles of powerful, churning rapids that make a kayaker's pulse quicken at the mention of Banning. Even the names of the individual pitches are a call to white-water adventure: Blueberry Slide, Mother's Delight, Dragon's Tooth and Hell's Gate.
No matter how experienced you are in a kayak or decked canoe, always respect the river. More than one life has been claimed here when people have overestimated their skills or underestimated the hazardous rapids (especially in high water). When in doubt, scout ahead or portage. Be especially wary of the high, cold water in April and May. After the snow melts, the swollen Kettle rises to levels that only experts should attempt. Read more: