Since 1972, about 255 miles of the St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers have been protected along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. It is a popular route for paddlers and tube floaters, in addition to providing invaluable habitat for a variety of wildlife, including beavers, great blue herons, and 40 species of native mussels. There are a few dams along the rivers and regulations vary by who manages different sections, so it is important to know the rules before you launch your boat.
Trego Nature Trail, Sandrock Cliffs, Interstate State Parks
There is a long scenic byway that follows the St. Croix River north from its confluence with the Mississippi River (south of Minneapolis) near the Great River Road Visitor Center in Prescott, Wisconsin. The National Park Service (NPS) manages the seasonal Namekegon River Visitor Center on a stretch of water that is good for floating. If you do not have a boat, just down the road try the 2.8-mile roundtrip Trego Nature Trail that follows the Namekegon River through a forest of white pine, bigtooth aspen, and paper birch trees.
Wisconsin Interstate State Park is located on the St. Croix River and is the western terminus for the partially completed 1,200-mile long Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Both Minnesota and Wisconsin Interstate State Parks are great places to learn about potholes (up to 15-foot deep bowls carved into solid rock) formed by boulders caught in whirlpools during glacial melting.
All main roads are paved, but some (like the side road to Trego Nature Trail) are good gravel.
Developed campgrounds can be found in the numerous state parks and state forests along the rivers. Only designated riverside campsites can be used by those paddling (except in the Stillwater Islands area), but no reservations are accepted.
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (Minnesota)
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (Wisconsin)
Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)
Explore More – A major proponent of creating this park, Senator Gaylord Nelson was born in Clear Lake, Wisconsin and helped pass the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, as well as founding what annual holiday in 1970?