Water Safety

With 125 miles of Lake Superior shoreline and countless inland lakes and rivers, the Keweenaw is a dream destination for all water enthusiasts. Whether you enjoy swimming in Lake Superior, paddling the Keweenaw Waterway, or fishing our inland lakes and rivers, following a few water safety tips will ensure that your next adventure is safe and enjoyable. 

Know Before You Go

Before heading out on the water, it is important to be prepared. Lake Superior and water activities pose inherent risks that adventurers should be aware of and take precautions against. Always check the weather and wind conditions before heading out, as they can change rapidly and cause dangerous situations. Additionally, it is important to know where you are going, as cell-service is not available in all areas. Save maps of the area to your phone or have paper maps ready in case you get lost. 


Swimming in Lake Superior is a great way to enjoy beautiful scenery and have some fun, but it's important to stay safe and be aware of the risks.

  • Be mindful of rip currents, which are more likely to be found near structures such as rock formations, piers, or breaks in sandbars.
  • Knowing how to “break the grip of a rip” is important; swim parallel to the shore, not against the current.
  • Don't swim alone. Bring a friend or swim near other people.
  • Bring lifejackets or flotation devices, and if you’re not a strong swimmer, stay in shallow water. 


From sea kayaking on Lake Superior to exploring the Portage Canal on paddle board or kayak, the Keweenaw offers many different paddling experiences. Before you go out, plan your route and let someone know when you expect to return. 

  • Always wear a lifejacket!
  • Paddling in groups is safer than paddling alone. 
  • Dress appropriately for the weather. When paddling in cold water, consider wearing quick-drying clothing.
  • In areas of high motorboat traffic, paddle near shore and approach waves head-on or at a slight angle to avoid capsizing.
  • Paddle within your skill level, and consider getting instruction from a certified paddlesport instructor from the Keweenaw Adventure Company or Portage Paddlesports. 
  • Keep in mind that kayaking on Lake Superior requires more experience and different equipment. 


To ensure a safe and enjoyable boating experience in the Keweenaw, it is important to take the proper safety precautions and familiarize yourself with the local boating regulations. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind!

  • Always wear a life jacket. 
  • Avoid alcohol when operating your boat. 
  • Don't overload your boat. Know how many people your boat can safely fit. 
  • Operate at a safe speed, and be courteous to other boaters or paddlers. Slow down to decrease wake when passing others. 
  • Watch for hazards.
  • Take a boaters education course to learn boating safety and navigational rules
  • Do your part in preventing the spread of invasive species and "Aquatic Hitchhikers"