Come Ready for Adventure. Go Back Ready for Anything.
Our mission is to provide programs that are fun, enhance personal development, promote self-confidence, and teach skills through adventure challenge in a safe and exciting environment for participants of all levels.
Why Travel with The Northwest Passage
Your safety is our top priority in all of our planning. Our guides are experienced and in trained in the hazards and rewards of each trip activity and destination. Each guide carries appropriate certifications in first aid, wilderness medicine and sport specific instructing and skills certificates.
The Northwest Passage has a proud tradition of environmental and social stewardship. We believe it's important to take care of the places we visit, and give back to the people who act as our local guides and hosts. Contact us for more information about our environmental initiatives, and for tips to reduce your impact on the environment at home and while on vacation.
On inn-to-inn trips you visit small, family owned inns and restaurants, chosen for their welcoming hospitality, fresh food and high service standards. For our camping trips we prepare delicious meals in your campsite, offering up fresh seafood on a secluded caye or hearty fajitas enjoyed around a campfire. We use high quality tents and equipment, and help you choose the right personal gear to keep you snug and comfortable all night.
When do you want to travel?
Are you looking for a mid-winter escape or a long summer vacation? Ready to leave now? Whether you want to hike, kayak, rock climb, camp or SUP we have the adventure you're looking for all year round!
Ready for a challenge?
All adventure travel offers the opportunity to stretch your limits and try new experiences. Our skill ratings for each trip will help you determine how much your vacation will challenge you. The Northwest Passage designs adventures to suit all levels of expertise, from novice to expert. Each trip carries a skill rating that reflects the skill level needed to enjoy the trip, the terrain you cover and the conditions you can expect to encounter. Use the ratings as a guide to help you choose an adventure that's right for you. Please see our skill rating descriptions.
Our History Since 1984
The Northwest Passage was founded on the belief that there is no better way to fully experience the world than by engaging with it on its own terms. Whether that means clambering over a pressure ridge on one of our North Pole expeditions or exploring a sea cave by kayak on the southern coast of Crete, we have an adventure of a lifetime that fits your activity and skill level. These adventures are designed for the body, mind and soul, perfect for those who seek revitalizing vacations. As we like to say, come ready for a trip. Leave ready for anything.
Our decades of experience set us apart from the rest. We were at the forefront of adventure travel before anyone coined the term. Throughout our experience we've discovered the recipes for perfect adventure moments, whether it's the serenity of gazing down the majestic Samaria Gorge, the excitement of latching onto an accelerating wave as you surf a kayak to shore or the beautifully simple contentedness of enjoying a hearty meal and conversation around the campfire.
Our family of guides are passionate about sharing their love of the outdoors with others, and provide a supportive environment that enables trip participants to stretch their perceived boundaries. We at The Northwest Passage encourage you to experience the world from the vantage point of the trail, the waterway, the bike path, the mountainside, anything but the tour bus. Stop being a tourist and become an adventurer!
In May of 1993 Rick Sweitzer designed, organized and co-guided the first ever North Pole dogsled expedition for amateur explorers in the general public. It was a lifelong dream and a crowning achievement for Sweitzer's Chicagoland based adventure travel business, The Northwest Passage, but it is not where the story begins.
After returning to the Chicago area from two years in Africa with the Peace Corps, Sweitzer picked up his stateside outdoor adventures right where he left off two years prior, canoeing gorgeous waterways in the heart of the American and Canadian wilderness. As suggested by his friends, Sweitzer began organizing and guiding trips for his buddies in exchange for their share in food, gas and a fee. Driving back from the Canadian Arctic after one of these trips, Sweitzer realized that he could build a business out of his passion for exploring the outdoors. Thus The Northwest Passage was born out of Sweitzer's garage in 1983.
Sweitzer's passion continues to drive The Northwest Passage, the premier source for adventure travel. The Northwest Passage's sister company, Polar Explorers, continues to organize and guide expeditions to the North Pole as well as yearly trips to the South Pole and Greenland. The Mediterranean continues to be home away from home for Sweitzer, as he and The Northwest Passage have been exploring Italy, Turkey, Crete and Cyclades Islands by sea kayak for over 20 years — The Northwest Passage continues to progress towards its goal of circumnavigating all the Greek Islands by kayak.
Always looking to share adventures with his family, since 1993 Sweitzer has paddled Crete and climbed Kilimanjaro with his family, as well as skied to the North Pole, and climbed Grand Teton and Denali with his son Taylor.
Never one to live in the past or rest on his laurels, Sweitzer and The Northwest Passage continue to expand the adventure travel industry, spin the “fun meter” and produce the most adventurous, indulgent and revitalizing adventure tours in the world.
1) EASY: No experience required. Our guides help you learn a new sport or become comfortable in the outdoors. Calm waters, well marked trails and helpful instructors characterize these trips. An eager spirit and a smile are all you need.
2) MODERATE: Try out new skills, learn new techniques and stretch your comfort zone. You may encounter short open water crossings, 20-30 mile bike rides or full day hikes over varied terrain. Your heart rate goes up, but no special conditioning is necessary. Basic experience with the trip activities is required and our guides help you expand your skills and take on new challenges.
3) DEMANDING: When you're proficient in the basic and intermediate skills of any sport and ready for open water, challenging weather, backcountry camping and a chance to push your limits, this is your level. Prepare for some strenuous days in order to fully enjoy these adventures.
4) EXTREME: Your skill level and physical conditioning must be high as you may encounter adverse conditions that test your abilities. You spend both days and nights in some of the most extreme conditions the planet has to offer. You test all your limits. Trip specific preparation is required and you must obtain consent of the trip leader to participate.