St. Croix River: Wilderness Close to the Twin Cities

The St. Croix Scenic Riverway defines the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. This beautiful area was protected by Congress in 1968, including 255 miles of the St. Croix and its major tributary, the Namekagon River. Many species of animals make their homes along the river. At dawn and dusk paddlers may glimpse white-tailed deer or black bear foraging along the riverbanks. Eagles, osprey, and hawks soar overhead. Join us on one of these great outdoor adventures just a few hours east of the Twin Cities.
  • Only a short drive from the Twin Cities
  • Great location for a weekend family getaway
  • Paddle 24-foot Voyageur canoes on easy-flowing water
  • View ancient petroglyphs on the cliffs along the way
  • Riverway is lined with old-growth pine, sandstone bluffs, and sand beaches
  • Keep an eye out for eagles, great blue herons, white-tailed deer, and soft-shelled turtles

Straddling the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, the St. Croix River is a popular destination for a weekend wilderness trip. The start point at Interstate Park is only an hour's drive from the Twin Cities. You will be amazed at the diversity of wildlife you'll see in a short three-day camping trip so close to home. Easy paddling makes this a great option for all ages and abilities.

See dates and details for our scheduled St. Croix River trips:

  • With its convenient location and short duration, this three-day trip makes for a great family weekend getaway. Using our signature Voyageur canoes, you will explore the natural beauty of a calm, meandering river. Featuring kid-friendly games, ample s'mores, and gorgeous natural surroundings, you will make family memories to last a lifetime. 3 Days: Trip Fee $265 Youth Fee $135
  • Whether you are a seasoned paddler or have never canoed before, the easy paddle down the St. Croix will provide you with great sightseeing, exciting daily activities, and an insight into the area’s natural history. This convenient trip allows you to unwind as you search for blue herons, white-tailed deer, soft-shell turtles, and ancient petroglyphs onshore. 3 Days: Trip Fee $295

Here are all current St. Croix River trip offerings sorted by date. You can register for them right from this page or click on the trip name to see a detailed itinerary, photo gallery, and more.

Trip Name2017 DatesFeeRegistration
St. Croix Voyageur Family Canoe more» 6/16-6/18/17 $265
($135 Youth)
Register Now
St. Croix Voyageur Family Canoe more» 7/21-7/23/17 $265
($135 Youth)
Register Now
St. Croix River Canoe -- Women's more» 7/28-7/30/17 $295
Register Now
St. Croix Voyageur Family Canoe more» 8/18-8/20/17 $265
($135 Youth)
Register Now
The beautiful Saint Croix River allows visitors to paddle and experience a wild and scenic waterway that forms the Minnesota and Wisconsin border just east of the Twin Cities.

Congress designated the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway system as an original river in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System in 1968. This designation protects 255 miles of river corridor for its scenic and recreational values, including the Saint Croix and its major tributary, the Namekagon. While paddling this river system visitors experience several ecosystems and abundant plant and animal life.

Aquatic mammals such as otters, mink, beavers, and muskrats make their homes in the riparian zone and feed on the river’s fish and vegetation. During the mornings and in the evenings paddlers may glimpse white-tailed deer, or the shy black bear, as they forage along the riverbanks. Overhead visitors can spot eagles, osprey, hawks, and vultures.

Human occupation began as early as 10,000 years ago. Burial mounds, campsites, chipping stations, quarries, wild rice processing areas, rock art, and village sites offer evidence of the seasonal and complex nature of prehistoric life along the rivers. Historic American Indian archeological sites also tell of the coming of European people and culture. Native peoples and early fur traders alike liked the Saint Croix River/Brule River as a favored fur trade route from the Mississippi River to Lake Superior. Interaction took place between traders and Dakota and Ojibwe and other Indians as they traveled the rivers and traded. In 1837 a treaty opened the area to settlement by Euro-Americans.

A mixed forest of maples, cottonwoods, willows, and pines attracted 19th century loggers to the region. They cleared much of the timber and used the river to transport the logs. In 1872, for example, 3,500 men, 1,600 horses and 250 oxen logged off 35,000 acres cutting some 200 million board feet of logs, according to the Taylor’s Falls Reporter. In 1883 the Boom in Stillwater, Minnesota, which collected logs coming down the Saint Croix River, reported 1,397,417 logs for 217,045,647 board feet.

In the early 20th century, farming provided the livelihood for most settlers as the forests were all but cleared. The farming industry lasted only a short time due to poor soil conditions and the ensuing Great Depression. In the mid-1930s government relief programs assisted the farmers and the failing local economy by purchasing their lands and creating recreation areas. Acquired farmland became known as the Saint Croix Recreational Demonstration Area and an era of preservation and conservation followed.

For those interested in a family vacation that provides kid-friendly camping, this is one of the best vacations with teens and younger children. This family-friendly vacation is one of the active family vacations that will give adventurers a lifetime of memories.

The National Park Service manages the Saint Croix Riverway, and seeks to preserve, protect, restore, enhance, and interpret the riverway’s exceptional natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment of present and future generations. With the 1968 National Wild and Scenic River designation, the Saint Croix and Namekagon Rivers will always be preserved as a ribbon of wildness for all to enjoy.
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