Featuring 200 miles of clean water and numerous recreational activities, Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway is a must visit RV getaway destination for those who love the great outdoors. Located in eastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin, the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway consists of 252 miles of river and the adjacent land along its bank. One of the original eight National Wild and Scenic Rivers, the river is also the largest scenic riverway east of the Mississippi River.
The Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway was first inhabited by the Dakota and Ojibwe Indians who made their own clothing, built their own homes and hunted for their food. The river later was used to transport logs, steamboats carrying cargo, and ferries for cars that were operated by pulleys before bridges were built.
Since the riverway is so large, you have plenty of different options for those seeking recreational fun. Some of the most popular activities include fishing, paddling, boating, and birdwatching along with two great visitor centers that will give you the chance to learn more about the history of the river.
Depending on where you want to visit the river you will have plenty of options regarding RV camping. Interstate State Park and Wild River State Park are two of the most popular camping destinations but you can also stay further downstream at William O'Brien State Park. The Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway is available to visit all year round.
Getting to and from the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway really depends on where along the massive river that you would like to visit. There are so many great places along the riverbank for you to check out and it would take many weeks to be able to see everything.
One of the most popular places for visitors to check our is the town of St. Croix where you will find the main visitor center of the riverway. St. Croix will also be a great place to get stocked up on any supplies and amenities that you may need during your trip and you can also launch a boat here at the marina. Other towns include Taylors Falls, Osceola, and Marine on St. Croix.
All of the roads in and around the river are kept in good condition and there shouldn't be any obstacles that would hinder your journey. During the winter time a lot of the state parks on the banks of the river close for the season so make sure you call ahead if you plan on visiting any during this time.
Parking availability will depend on where along the river you would like to visit. Parking can be difficult to find in the more remote areas of the river but there should be parking available at all of the state parks that border the river.
Unfortunately there are no public transportation options that will take you to Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway.
Located only five miles south of the main Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway Visitor Center, Interstate State Park has some great camping options for you to enjoy. There are two campgrounds within the state park to choose from with 45 sites available at the South Camp Area and 40 in the North Camping Area.
The South Camp Area has primitive sites only, however there are four vault toilets, drinking water, and a dumping station within the campground. The North Camping Area is more popular as 20 of the 40 sites here have 30 amp electrical hookups. Other amenities include vault toilets, a restroom with showers, arrangements for clean drinking water, and a dumping station. Pets are also allowed at both campsites.
Sites at Interstate State Park can be reserved up to 11 months in advance and reservations are always recommended during peak season.
Wild River State Park is located around 13 miles north of the main visitor center and is popular with campers who are looking for more facilities. There is one RV campground located in the southeast portion of the park that consists of 94 campsites that are spread across five separate loops. There are 34 sites here that have electrical hookups and there are also four pull-through sites that do not offer electrical hookups. Each campsite comes equipped with a fire ring, barbecue grill, and picnic table.
RVs and trailers are restricted to 60 feet in length, the parking pads are gravel and some leveling may be needed depending on the campsite. Other amenities include drinking water stations, restrooms, a seasonal dump station, and showering facilities. The campground is also pet-friendly.
Sites are available by reservation and they are recommended during the peak season.
William O'Brien State Park is around 17 miles south of the main visitor center and is a great option if you are wanting to be based more downstream. There are two separate campgrounds for you to choose from that contain a combined 114 sites.
The Riverway Campground is the more popular of the two thanks to its close location to the river. Other amenities in the campground include flush toilets, showers, and a dump station. The toilets and showers are wheelchair accessible, and there are also three ADA-accessible campsites located right by the bathrooms as well for your convenience. Pets are allowed.
The Savanna Campground is open all year round and features 50-amp electric hookups for you to enjoy. Other amenities include flush toilets, showers, and a dump station but keep in mind that they will not be open during the off-season.
As you could imagine paddling is one of the most popular recreational activities within the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway thanks to the long stretches of deep waters.
Visitors have the choice of many paddling options, including easy river stretches, multiple-day intense excursions, or peaceful paddles. Before you leave for your adventure make sure that you have a permit if you are using a state park landing and organize your rental if you don't have your own canoe or kayak.
One of the best ways to learn more about the history of the river is to check out one of the two visitor centers that are located in St. Croix and Namekagon respectively.
The St. Croix visitor center is known as the main center for the riverway and features a river exhibit, a 19 minute film, and local art exhibits. At the Namekagon center you will find the same film and different river exhibits. The centers are only open during the peak season so keep that in mind for when you plan your trip.
There are so many different places to picnic near the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway that it is almost overwhelming. Depending on whether you are traveling the river via boat or car, your picnic destinations will differ but whatever way you choose you'll be impressed.
If you are in your RV, try the Osceola landing picnic area that includes a large accessible picnic area with two shelters, water, flush and vault toilets, grills, and an accessible fishing pier. The shelters can be either reserved online or used on a first come, first served basis.
There are some fantastic fishing opportunities available for visitors to Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway thanks to the clean water and a variety of underwater habitats. Depending on where you are along the river the waters will be suited to brown and brook trout in the colder waters while pike, muskellunge, bluegill, crappie, and lake sturgeon are more common downstream.
Due to the river bordering both Wisconsin and Minnesota, double check the fishing rules and regulations as they may differ in each state.
Bird lovers rejoice! The Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway is a hotbed for birds with over 240 species being found throughout the stretch of the river. Many visitors choose to go birding either on the river or on the various trails that are found in the state parks that border the river.
During the spring is the best time to go birding when bald eagles and waterfowl are migrating in numbers. The north-south alignment of the St. Croix River is also a natural corridor many woodland species.
If you love to hike then you will love the terrain that is available on the banks of the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway. There are also many different trails available for you to enjoy that are suitable for beginners all the way to advanced hikers.
Some of the most popular trails include the Ice Age National Scenic Trail near St. Croix Falls, the Indian Head Flowage Trail, and the North Country National Scenic Trail. For more specific information on the trails near the river, consider narrowing your search to the specific area of the river that you will be visiting.