MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s been a big part of what makes Lanesboro one of the state’s refreshing summer getaways, but heavy downpours in June put river recreation off limits.

The picturesque Root River was pushed a good 10 feet above normal, making it too dangerous for a gentle trip downstream by canoe, kayak or tube. For those who depend on the tourism it brings, it’s been a tough couple weeks.

Along the banks of the Root River, a mountain of tubes stands high and dry – the result of a river gone wild.

At Root River Outfitters in Lanesboro, serious flooding not only ripped out stairs, but it also stripped away more than two weeks of business renting out tubes, kayaks and canoes.

“It’s one thing when it’s fast and high, but you don’t know what’s just under the surface, the new obstacles in the way along with debris and everything,” Caleb Rissman said.

Eight-inch rainfalls swamped the hilly watershed, making the Root too dangerous at the worst possible time – the Fourth of July.

“This area here tends to be full of people, is just constantly full of people, constant line at the registers, phone ringing, so it’s busy,” Holly Rissman said.

Fortunately, the rain has stopped and river levels are dropping. Tourists are returning to a town built for beauty and summer fun.

“That’s all I’ve been doing, keeping my fingers crossed nonstop,” Caleb said.

So with the 90s and high humidity in store for the weekend, there’s a very good chance they’ll win some of that lost business back. Barring any more downpours, the outfitter expects to be fully up and running this weekend.

Bill Hudson

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