St. Croix Riverway Canoeing & Rock Climbing

St. Croix Riverway Canoeing & Rock Climbing

Students develop confidence, leadership skills and opportunities to experience responsibility amongst peers.
This canoeing & rock climbing expedition will push each student to discover their strengths as they canoe on the St. Croix National Wild & Scenic Riverway and rock climb at Minnesota’s Blue Mound State Park.

This Outward Bound course is designed for students seeking new experiences in unique places, learning to master their canoeing stroke on a beautiful river and discovering just how far they can push themselves as they scale the rocks of Blue Mound State Park’s 100-foot quartzite cliffs. Students will discover a drive and sense of purpose, as they become a key member of their expedition team.

These groups of students build pride and confidence as they gain a belief in themselves while testing the waters of taking risk beyond their perceived limitations. Students realize they are an important component of their group as their team builds camaraderie to accomplish goals together and in support of one another. Ultimately their team develops an identity and purpose that is greater than each individual.

Woven within the curriculum are lessons emphasizing collaboration, empathy and service. Students gain an appreciation and desire to help and understand others without the expectation of personal gain.

Course Area

St. Croix National Wild & Scenic Riverway, Wisconsin & Minnesota
This riverway starts as the Namekagon River in Northern Wisconsin and flows into the St. Croix River just north of Danbury, Wisconsin where the river becomes the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Students will paddle together on the upper section of either the Namekagon or St. Croix Rivers. Students will enjoy pristine camping within this national park. The entire riverway includes over 200 miles of river travel and many rapids up to Class I or II, depending on water levels. The river section concludes near Minnesota’s Interstate State Park near Taylor’s Falls, Wisconsin. Interstate State Park contains some of the most outstanding and unique geological features to be found anywhere in the world. The story of how these features came to be as we see them today is complex but fascinating. Interstate State Park is no exception; the story of its formations goes back over a billion years.

Blue Mounds State Park, Minnesota
Rising over 100 feet from the plains, the rare Sioux Quartzite cliffs of Blue Mounds State Park can be seen for miles over the farmland and prairies that surround it. As students hike over the plateau from their campsite towards the cliffs, they walk through some of the only untilled prairie left in southwest Minnesota. A vast sea of prairie flowers sway in the breeze, a wild herd of bison graze on the horizon, and prickly pear cactus may be seen blooming in the cracks of the surrounding rock walls. This may sound more like a fictional Western movie set; however, this rare ecosystem actually exists in the southwest corner of Minnesota. Because it has been guarded by 100-foot cliffs on three sides, this original Minnesota prairie escaped the plow and was turned into a state park in the 1960’s. Now it boasts a fragile and rare prairie ecosystem as well as the best rock climbing in the upper Midwest.

Classic Courses
No two Outward Bound expeditions are ever quite the same. Every crew is unique; every route is distinct; and every adventure is dynamic. But one thing remains the same. On each course, students rise to meet exhilarating natural challenges in some of the country’s wildest places – and find strength and determination along the way.

  • Build core skills: Learn and practice wilderness, teamwork and leadership skills. Form a crew that supports and encourages one another, and in the thick of challenges, discover there is more in you than you know.
  • Practice Outward Bound values: Learn to incorporate Outward Bound values into everyday life by pushing your own limits and seeking challenge as an opportunity for personal growth.
  • Demonstrate mastery: As the course nears the end, take on more leadership and decision-making responsibilities. Work together to apply new skills and achieve team goals during this final phase of the expedition.
  • What you’ll learn: Return home a stronger, more resilient individual. Discover increased self-confidence, improved leadership, and a desire to make a difference.

Listed below are a few of the activities:


Students will travel on the river in two-person canoes and will learn to maneuver their team through Class I or II rapids.

After lessons in basic river travel, students progress to learning about “reading” currents, anticipating obstacles, river dynamics and working as an effective team to negotiate technical portions of the river.

Students will also learn about weather, swimming in moving water, paddle techniques, and the importance of Leave No Trace® practices when camping and traveling.

Rock Climbing at Blue Mounds State Park

Known by many as the best-climbing crag in Minnesota, Blue Mounds offers a variety of beginner and intermediate climbs that provide an ideal introduction to rock climbing.

Regardless of a student’s rock climbing and rappelling background, everyone is sure to find something that will both challenge and encourage them as they spend at least two days at Blue Mounds. All Outward Bound rock climbing and rappelling experiences are heavily supervised and employ safety systems that align with national standards.

During climbing days, students learn about rock-climbing equipment, safety and etiquette, belaying techniques, and climbing rescue techniques. Encouraged and supported by their group, students push their perceived limits and expand their comfort zones in a non-competitive environment.


Weather and time permitting, a two to four hour Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience.

Many students use this reflection time to journal, or write letters to friends and family. While students spend the majority of their Solo time alone, Instructors do check on each student as often as needed, to ensure that each student feels safe and comfortable.

Instructors choose Solo sites to offer as much solitude as possible while retaining some proximity to the group.

Students find that Solo provokes profound and powerful learning in a short period of time and often becomes one of the most memorable parts of their Outward Bound experience.

Please submit the Course Inquiry form or call (828) 239-2376 to discuss if this course is right for you.

Visit the Voyageur Outward Bound School frequently asked questions page to learn more about the application process, scholarships, what to expect, how to pack and where your course begins.

Upon enrollment on a Voyageur Outward Bound School course students receive a day-by-day course itinerary, detailed packing list, and detailed arrival and departure information specific to their course.

Scholarship Info

Our Scholarship Program is guided by a single principle: Every person should be given the opportunity to experience adventure and challenge, develop character and compassion, and learn leadership skills and service ethics, regardless of financial ability.

Moreover, we bring together diverse groups of students to instill cultural understanding and teamwork skills that enable them to become principled leaders.

Thanks to generous donations from alumni, parents, corporations, foundations, and others, Outward Bound awards up to $3.7 million in scholarships to 6,000 students each year.

The Voyageur Outward Bound School scholarship program is need-based and in order to be considered, applicants must first enroll on a course, pay a $500 deposit and check a box noting that they are interested in a Scholarship. The deposit payment is applied toward the total cost of the course and includes a $150 enrollment processing fee (usually non-refundable). After the applicant enrolls, a Course Advisor will send them a Scholarship Application along with the other enrollment materials. The applicant is required to submit a copy of their most recent 1040 tax return along with the completed Scholarship Application. The average scholarship is 15-30% off of the posted fee. If the applicant receives an Outward Bound scholarship but it’s not enough for them to participate, Outward Bound will refund their $500 deposit, including the $150 enrollment processing fee.

In some cases, applicants can schedule a payment plan with the Voyageur Outward Bound School rather than paying for the whole course in one lump sum. In cases of payment plans, final balances are due at least 90 days prior to the course-start.

Packing for a Voyageur Outward Bound School course

In general, Outward Bound provides sleeping bags, sleeping mats, rain gear, and all group cooking, camping and traveling equipment. Students need to provide their own clothing, footwear, toiletries and a few other items, like a headlamp and water bottle.

Traveling to and from the Voyageur Outward Bound School

MN Courses:  In most cases, but not all, Voyageur Outward Bound School students meet in the Duluth International Airport baggage claim at 1:00 PM on the first day of the course. Students typically return to the Duluth International Airport around 11:30 AM on the last day of the course and should plan to fly out any time after 1:00 PM to account for check-in and security clearance.

TX Courses:  In most cases, but not all, Voyageur Outward Bound School students arrive in El Paso, TX the day before their course officially begins.  Students spend the night in a local hotel (not included in course-cost) as directed by their Course Advisor. Students typically return to the El Paso International Airport around 1:00 PM on the last day of the course and should plan to fly out any time after 2:00 PM to account for check-in and security clearance.

Explicit travel directions will be shared with you after you enroll on a course.  Students should refrain from making travel plans prior to being approved for their course and receiving travel details for their specific course as the exact details may differ slightly from the directions listed above.

Airlines Unaccompanied Minor service Fees

Please Note: Virtually all airlines, except United and Southwest, require that travelers age 14 or younger flying without a companion over the age of 18 pay for their Unaccompanied Minor service. This fee ranges anywhere from $40 to $75 each way. In most cases, the Unaccompanied Minor service is OPTIONAL for travelers between the ages of 15-17.
Please submit the Course Inquiry form or call (828) 239-2376 to discuss if this course is right for you.

St. Croix Riverway Canoeing & Rock Climbing
Dates Days Age Tuition Course #
7/24/16 – 8/2/16 10 12-13 $2250 VTMG-631

Spots fill quickly! Reserve a spot and speak with a Course Advisor. : Error

Sorry, we’re having a technical issue.

Try refreshing the page. If the problem persists, please email us at

Thank you for your patience.