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The Kettle River
Kayakers on the Kettle River in Banning State Park
Kettle River during low water

The Kettle is a tributary of the St. Croix River, about 80 mi (130 km) long, in eastern Minnesotamarker in the United Statesmarker. Via the St. Croix River, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River. The river's English name is due to the large number of large rounded holes (kettles) in the sandstone in and around the river, carved out by the swirling waters of the river. The river's native name Akiko-ziibi comes from the Anishinaabe people.

River character

Throughout the course of the river, the waters of the Kettle have an amber tint. This tint comes from tannins (leaf colorings) from wetlands which drain into the river, rather than manmade causes.

The Kettle's flow changes fairly quickly with rainfall in the area of drainage, which is about . It is not uncommon for the river to be reduced to a trickle during dry summer spells, and rise to a whitewater torrent after a few days of rain. Normal water flows vary seasonally from 200 to over 6000 ft³/min (0.09 to 2.8 m³/s). Check the USGS Water Gauge for current flows before you go.

Very deep sections of the river exist, with some pools reaching over 100 feet (30 m) in depth. The astounding depth of the river and general good water quality support a population of the ancient Sturgeon. The record largest fish ever caught in the state of Minnesotamarker, was a 70 inch (1.8 m), 94 pound 4 oz (42.8 kg) Sturgeon caught in the Kettle river in 1994.

Sections of river

The upper section of the river (above Banning State Parkmarker) is generally quick moving with frequent riffles and a few class I rapids. This section of the river is runnable when water levels are moderate to high (900 ft³/min).

As the river flows to Banning State Parkmarker, its character quickly changes as the river drops through a series of rapids ranging from class I to class IV. This rapids are easily runnable in an open canoe when water levels are low to moderate(600 to 900 ft³/min), but can become dangerous to even experienced whitewater kayakers and rafters during very high water (4,500 ft³/min). The steep rocky sides to the river, and undercut banks and kettles can make a rescue very difficult in these conditions.

Shortly after exiting the park, the river quiets significantly before Big Spring Falls. The falls was recreated when a dam built in 1908 was removed in 1995 to help restore the river. The removal of the dam has allowed the sturgeon a greater range on the river. There is also a small picnic area next to the falls, and a bit of a rough portage down to the water.

From the falls to the confluence of the St. Croix, the Kettle continues to drop at a moderate rate with frequent riffles and occasional class I rapids. The rapids increase in frequency, but not intensity as the river approaches the St. Croix. This last section of the river is some of the best canoeing available in the state with manageable rapids, good fishing, frequently wildlife sightings (including bears) and absence of other people.


The Kettle flows into the St. Croix River 10 mi (16 km) east-northeast of Pine Citymarker.

Near its headwaters the river collects the West Branch Kettle River, which flows southeastwardly from its source near Wrightmarker. Other tributaries include the Dead Moose and Split Rock Rivers, which join the Kettle in Carlton County, and the Moose Horn, Willow, Pine and Grindstone Rivers, which join it in Pine County.Wolf Creek, in Banning State Park, drops over a twelve foot water falls just before it enters into the Kettle River.

External links

Kettle River Paddle Festival


  • Breinin, Greg (2005). Paddling Minnesota. ISBN 1-56044-690-0
  • Columbia Gazetteer of North America entry
  • Waters, Thomas F. (1977). The Streams and Rivers of Minnesota. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-0960-8.

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