Share a fun-filled camping experience with your family along the beautiful and historic St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Paddle 24-foot Voyageur canoes down the easy-flowing water, viewing ancient petroglyphs on the cliffs along the way. Close to the Twin Cities, the river is a great location for a weekend family getaway. Relax and enjoy games and activities on the banks of the St. Croix, covered with pine, balsam, and birch that offer respite from the warm sun. This is a great vacation for those who want to enjoy a scenic and easygoing getaway with the family. The St. Croix offers something for everyone.
ItineraryExpand All Fields
Day 1: Depart Interstate State Park and begin your paddle down the St. Croix.
Meet at Minnesota's William O'Brien State Park in the morning and travel together with your group to your St. Croix River entry point at Interstate State Park - Minnesota. After a group orientation, unload gear, repack into Duluth packs, and get to know your surroundings as you embark down river amongst large basalt walls, carved into a canyon by ancient glacial meltwaters. Settle into your first campsite among towering white pines and spruce trees.
Day 2: Search for bald eagles and great blue herons as you paddle to Osceola Landing.
Rise to the aroma of coffee and breakfast before breaking camp and traveling downstream. Be on the lookout for bald eagles that grace the trees and sky. Great Blue Herons wade silently near the shoreline and Peregrine Falcons watch as we progress down the river. Take a break from paddling to stop for lunch and go for a swim. Arrive at your campsite near Osceola Landing. Set up camp, enjoy dinner and a fire under the stars, right on the banks of the river.
Day 3: Enjoy one last morning paddle and say farewell to your trip mates.
Take a mid-morning paddle to your take-out point at William O'Brien State park. Look for wintergreen and wildflowers. Eat one last lunch together before packing for the trip home. The trip officially ends in the early afternoon. Those who use WI's van transportation will return to Minneapolis in the late afternoon.
Dates & Fees
What to Expect
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: The river banks are generally low throughout this section of the river. Sand bars are frequent, and some rocks are scattered along the route. There are no portages. Routes will depend on the water levels at the time of the trip.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: This trip is recommended for families with children age 3 and older. Travel in 24-foot cedar strip canoes, which hold 4-8 paddlers, a boat captain, and all necessary gear. They are fast and stable boats, designed specifically for trips on big water. An average day’s travel will consist of 2-5 hours of paddling depending on the weather. The total distance travelled will be 15 – 18 miles.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the summer months range from 35 F to 100 F. Rainfall can vary and you should expect the possibility of rain.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 7 to 14 participants, plus 2 or more Wilderness Inquiry staff. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, including people with disabilities. If you are looking for a family-friendly vacation this is a great choice. Our trips are cooperative in nature. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however most people pitch in where they can. Part of the adventure involves learning about daily camp activities.
ACCOMMODATIONS: At night, you will sleep in 4-person tents with 3-4 people (although other arrangements can be made). Bathroom facilities consist of a foldable commode chair or an outhouse. We make every effort to ensure privacy and cleanliness.
MEALS: The fun of camping includes cooking in the wilderness, a challenge with great rewards. We pride ourselves on providing healthy ingredients for simple, plentiful dishes everyone will enjoy. Count on hearty breakfasts, trail lunches, plenty of snacks, and wonderful dinners, finished off with campfire s’mores.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all group equipment. You will need to provide your personal gear as outlined in the packing list. If you are new to outdoor activities, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Wilderness Inquiry can usually arrange for you to borrow most items.
FISHING: If you would like to fish on the St. Croix trip, we suggest bringing your own fishing pole and tackle. You must have either a Minnesota or Wisconsin fishing license.Read more »
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where do we meet?
Standard Meeting Places and Times
Start: William O'Brien State Park at 10:00 AM (local time)
End: William O'Brien State Park at 1:00 PM (local time)
This trip begins at William O'Brien State Park in Minnesota, at 10:00 AM. The trip ends at 1:00 PM at the same location. You can take your own transportation or use WI’s van transportation from our headquarters in Minneapolis. By car, it is a 1.5-hour drive north from Minneapolis to William O'Brien State Park. Most people meet us for the van leaving from WI headquarters in Minneapolis at 7:30 AM on the first day of the trip. The WI shuttle will return to headquarters in Minneapolis at approximately 3:00 PM on the last day of the trip. Detailed meeting place instructions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip. Booking a Flight? We recommend flying in to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport the night before your trip, and flying out no earlier than 5:30 PM on the last day of the trip.
Do you offer financial aid?
Yes - we believe the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors should be available to everyone. To keep our programs as financially accessible as possible, each year we raise funds to support need-based scholarships. Certain restrictions apply. Financial aid is available for a select number of trips only and typically not available for international trips. Click here to apply for financial aid. This website also shows a list of trips that are currently eligible for financial aid. Check back often, as this list is updated regularly! Call 612-676-9400 for more information.
I am riding in the Wilderness Inquiry van to the trip starting point. Where can I park my car?
Wilderness Inquiry has no participant parking available in our lot. We recommend you make arrangements to be dropped off and picked up at WI. If you are unable to make a drop off/pick up arrangement, you can park your car near WI for $5-10/day. Long-term street parking is not available.
Will I see any wildlife on this trip?
The St. Croix River is home to a diverse array of plant and animal species. As you paddle down the river you may see turtles, hawks, bald eagles, beavers, otters, and deer. You can print a checklist of common animals on the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway’s website, here: https://www.nps.gov/sacn/learn/nature/upload/common-animal-checklist.pdf.
I’ve never camped or canoed before. Will I be able to do this trip?
Yes! The St. Croix River is the perfect destination for paddlers of all experience levels, abilities, and ages.
Is the St. Croix River a National Park?
The St. Croix River National Scenic Riverway is a unit of the National Park System. It is one of the eight original national Wild and Scenic Rivers, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018.
What is your cancellation/refund policy?
We require a nonrefundable deposit of 10% of the trip fee or $100, whichever is smaller. So, for example, if the trip fee is $250, the deposit would be $25. If the trip fee is $3995, the deposit would be $100.
If you choose to cancel your trip:
For trips in the continental United States:
• 6 weeks prior to start date — we will refund fees paid minus deposit.
• Less than 6 weeks — we will refund 50% of the total trip fee, or 100% of fees paid can be transferred to a future trip.
• Less than 1 week— no refunds will be issued.
For trips outside the continental United States:
• 12 weeks prior to start date— we will refund fees paid minus deposit.
• Less than 12 weeks — we will refund 50% of the total trip fee, or 100% of fees paid can be transferred to a future trip.
• Less than 2 weeks — no refunds will be issued.
In the rare event that WI cancels a trip, or we are unable to serve you, all fees are immediately refunded, including the deposit. Unfortunately, we cannot be responsible for personal expenses such as airline tickets. To protect your investment in your travel plans we recommend purchasing travel insurance. Information on travel insurance is included in your trip confirmation packet. If after registering you wish to switch trips, you may do so subject to availability. Fees may apply.
Under certain circumstances, such as death of a family member, change in health status, loss of employment, etc., we may make exceptions to our refund policies. Please let us know immediately if your plans change!