In 1975 Minnesota added the Kettle River it’s Wild & Scenic Rivers Program. The Kettle River is one of six Minnesota rivers with this designation.
The “wild” portion of the river is from Sandstone downstream to the river’s confluence with the St. Croix River. There’s great flat water paddling on this section of the Kettle River, easy rapids, good fishing, frequent wildlife sightings and the lack of people.
The “scenic” portion of the river is from the Carlton-Pine county line downstream to the old Sandstone dam site. This section includes the rapids in Banning State Park, as well as the impressive steep and rocky sides, the “kettles,” and the sandstone formations. According to the DNR website, “scenic rivers…exist in a free-flowing state and with adjacent lands that are largely undeveloped” (i.e., they still present an overall natural character but may have been developed for agricultural, residential, or other land uses).
Finally, according to the National Park Service, once the Kettle River joins the St. Croix River, it becomes part of another designation, the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway: 250 miles of clean water that glides and rushes through wild and beautiful forested landscapes.