Class I St. Croix River, MN

St. Croix River State Water Trail/St. Croix River National Scenic Riverway (Namekagon River Confluence to Mississippi River)

Beginning in Upper St. Croix Lake in Douglas County, Wisconsin, the St. Croix River flows 164 miles to its confluence with the Mississippi River near Prescott, Wisconsin. The majority of the river creates the state boundary between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The upper St. Croix River flows past heavily wooded banks and islands. The upper 200 miles of the river is federally designated as a Wild and Scenic River. The lower St. Croix River showcases steep sandstone and limestone bluffs with winding side channels.

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by paddling the pristine St. Croix River! Shortly after Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale arrived in Washington, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson approached Mondale with the proposal of cosponsoring the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, introduced to congress in 1965. The objective was to avert water pollution and the looming human development that many rivers had experienced across the country. The St. Croix River was a focal point of the bill because it was relatively untouched by development, which was unique given its close proximity to the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. In 1968, just three years later, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was signed into law by President Johnson. Mondale and Nelson’s effort to preserve the St. Croix River is considered to be their political legacy achievement, and 50 years later, we enjoy the rich natural resources of the St. Croix, as Mondale and Nelson had envisioned.

"In the face of ever-increasing urban sprawl, in the face of the oppressive nature of concrete, steel, and auto exhaust gases in our cities, we need more than ever a place of natural refuge and beauty, removed from the clamor of the towns and cities. We must move now to protect that river."

(Mondale, 1965)

Take a virtual tour. It's a great tool to help you plan your next visit! (Source: National Park Service.

Section Details

Trip Length Multiday, 164.0 Miles
Notes The stretch upstream of Taylors Falls, MN is more secluded and better suited to canoeing and kayaking. The rest of the river reaching south to the confluence with the Mississippi River is wider and used by both motorized and non-motorized watercraft.
Fishing Yes
Camping Yes
Manager State, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Wild & Scenic Yes
Water Trail Yes
Partner Information
Photo Credit: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources