Located along 18 miles of the St. Croix River, Wild River State Park is 24 miles away from North Branch, Minnesota. The 6,803-acre park sports a number of recreational opportunities that range from canoeing and horseback riding to hiking and cross country-skiing in the off-season. Wild River State Park boasts a unique surreal camping experience with 94 campsites, 34 of which offer electrical hookups.
Wild River State Park was founded in 1973 as part of the National Wild and Scenic River designation of the St. Croix River. The park has an unusual sideways S-shape that follows the St. Croix River which separates Minnesota and Wisconsin. The park was once home to the Ojibwe Tribe until 1837 when the large Eastern White Pine trees were logged. Today, the park sports a mixture of second-growth forests from pine to hardwood and oak savanna.
Also within the park boundaries is a section of the Point Douglas to Superior Military Road, the Deer Creek Section. The road was originally constructed in 1853 by builder John Rollins and engineer James Hervey Simpson. In 1991, this section of the road was added to the National Register of Historical Places.
RV Rentals in Wild River State Park
Transportation in Wild River State Park
There is only one entry point at Wild River State Park. The park is accessed from State Highway 12. The surrounding area offers flat roads which are easily navigated with large and small RVs as well as trailers. Once inside the park navigation becomes more challenging along State Highway 12. There are numerous turnouts to hiking trails and additional parking lots, as well as a boat ramp.
The terrain within the park is undulating prairie land with several curves but no hairpin turns. The number of side roads can be confusing when trying to find the main campground or the horse campground. To find the main campground continue northeast on State Highway 12 and pass the boat ramp turnout as well as the parking area for the Mitigwaki Trail. Continue driving northeast past the Never Dam Trail and Lookout turnoff. Follow State Highway 12 until you reach the main campground. The road ends at the campground.
The horse campground is reached via a service road on the north side of the road after you enter the park. When you enter the campground follow the posted speed limit of 15 miles per hour. While driving within the park, drivers need to be aware of children playing, bicyclists, horseback riders, and hikers.
Campgrounds and parking in Wild River State Park
Campsites in Wild River State Park
The main campground is located in the southeast portion of the park. This pet-friendly campground consists of 94 campsites that are spread across five separate loops. There are 34 sites that have electrical hookups and there are four pull-through sites that do not offer electrical hookups. Each campsite is furnished with a fire ring, barbeque grill, and picnic table. RVs and trailers are restricted to 60 feet in length. Parking pads are gravel and some leveling may be needed depending on the campsite.
Drinking water stations are located throughout each loop as well as restrooms with seasonal showering facilities. Generators are allowed from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. The park contains a seasonal dump station, which is situated at the entrance of the main campground. Pets are allowed on a 6-foot leash. Campsites are available by reservations. Reservations are strongly advised for RVs and trailers.
If you are an avid equestrian, the Horse Campground is the place for you. The Horse Campground is located along the southwestern portion of the park. The campground consists of 20 campsites, with 15 of these campsites offering electrical hookups. There are two pull-through camp-sites. Each campsite within the oval shaped campground contains a fire ring, barbeque, picnic table and a hitching post for livestock. The center of the campground offers a fresh drinking water station, primitive toilets, and manure bins. There is a seasonal dump station available near the entrance of the main campground. RV and trailer lengths are limited to 60 feet. Generators are allowed from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. Pets are permitted on a 6-foot leash. Campsites are available by reservations.
Other Camping Facilities
Wild River State Park offers other camping options which include six cabins, seven backpack sites, and four canoe sites along the St. Croix River.
Some of the campsites may be available on a first-come, first-served basis, although reservations are highly recommended. The main pet-friendly campground consists of 94 camp sites that are spread across five separate loops, 34 of which have electrical hookups for RVs. Each camp site is furnished with a fire ring, barbeque grill, and picnic table. RVs and trailers cannot exceed 60 feet in length. Parking pads are not paved and may require leveling. The campground has adequate drinking water stations, as well as restrooms with seasonal showering facilities. The park contains a seasonal dump station as well.
The horse campground consists of 20 campsites, 15 of which offer electrical hookups. If there are any open campsites, they may be available on a first-come, first-served basis, although this is not guaranteed. Campsites consists of a fire ring, barbeque, picnic table ,and a hitching post for livestock. The campground offers a fresh drinking water station, primitive toilets, and manure bins. The dump station is open seasonally and is located near the main campground. RVs and trailers cannot exceed 60 feet in length. Generators are allowed from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.
Seasonal activities in Wild River State Park
Wildflowers are abundant in Wild River State Park. Each season brings new color and flora species for you to experience. Spring flowers include species like wild columbines, Carolina puccoon, and wild geraniums. In the summer your eyes can feast on the rough blazing star, black-eyed Susans, and butterfly milkweed. The trees turn into a canvass of amazing colors in the fall months with various species of oak, maple, and basswood trees, which are highlighted with pine tree-dotted areas.
Fishing on the St. Croix National Wild and Scenic River within the park is perfect from the shore or off a boat. You can enjoy a relaxing time on or along the river while anticipating fish that range from northern pike, walleye, catfish, and smallmouth, as well as largemouth bass. Check regulations for appropriate bait use and bag limits. The water level for fishing is best seen after the spring melts off. Make sure you pack your fishing gear in your camper for to chance to cast your line.
Boating, Canoeing, and Kayaking
Canoeing and kayaking are very popular in Wild River State Park for RVers along the St. Croix National Wild and Scenic River. Canoeists and kayakers will find numerous put-in and take-out points along the river including a boat ramp in the southern portion of the park near the Sunrise River. There is an on-site concessionaire that offers canoe and kayak rentals on an hourly and daily basis. A shuttle service is available to help with transportation from various take-out points within the park. There are also four canoe campsites available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Jet skis are prohibited on the river.
Hiking at Wild River State Park is highlighted by 35 miles of unique trails. Trails range from traveling through oak savanna areas to wetlands to prairies, as well as following the St. Croix River. Some of the more popular trails within the park include the three-mile Deer Creek Loop, which traverses the historic Point Douglas to Superior Military Road, the one-mile Amik’s Pond Loop Trail. and the one-mile River Terrace Loop Trail, which offers great views of the old Nevers Dam site.
Bird and Wildlife Viewing
Bird and wildlife watching are ideal things to do in Wild River State Park. Whether you are on the water or hiking, you can expect to see birds and wildlife. There are more than 200 species of birds that reside or migrate through the park which include numerous species of ducks, the Tennessee warbler, song sparrows, scarlet tanager, and the Baltimore oriole. Numerous mammals live within the park like black bears, white-tailed deer, river otter, mink, and beaver.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
During the winter months, the park turns into a winter wonderland with 35 miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing, as well as snowshoeing. Skis and snowshoes are available for rent onsite through the Trail Center. The park features specific trails for classic skiing, skate skiing, and combined skiing. Snowshoeing is restricted on groomed skiing trails, but adventurous people can snowshoe anywhere else within the park boundaries. Popular trails include the Old Logging Trail, the Trillium Trail, and snowshoeing is ideal along the Mitigwaki Loop Trail.