Summer Dreaming on the St. Croix

Our wild and scenic St. Croix River has so much to explore, and one of the best ways to experience all that our national park has to offer is from the seat of a kayak. However, there are many things to consider before your paddle hits the water.

When planning a visit to the river, you must first decide what stretch of river you want to explore. Together with the Namekagon River, there are over 200 miles of water that rush over 500 million-year-old rocks and through large stands of white pines and forested landscape. Whether you decide on a stretch of river that is closest to your home or a town far away, you’ll want to be sure to check the current river conditions including water depth, landing closures, and any safety warnings. This information and more can be found on the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway website and is updated regularly during open water season. Section maps, also available on the website and at certain landings, can provide valuable information about your put-in and take-out locations. Would you like a 3-hour paddle or a full day of exploration?

What day of the week you plan to visit the river can also affect your experience. If you’re looking for a day of solitude and relaxation, a mid-week paddle or early morning excursion might be more fitting. However, you might make more friends with other river-loving folks by visiting during the weekend when the river is full of anglers, campers, and other paddlers. The time of year and the weather can also play a part in when you decide to visit. In the spring, water can be cool, fast-moving, and exciting. Towards the end of summer, mid-day heat can be a challenge, and water levels can drop, creating stretches of river where you might get more exercise walking than paddling.

Paddlers inspect the rock formations on the St. Croix near Taylors Falls during the 2023 “Birding by Sound” paddle. Photo: Katie Sickmann, Wild Rivers Conservancy
Paddlers inspect the rock formations on the St. Croix near Taylors Falls during the 2023 “Birding by Sound” paddle. Photo: Katie Sickmann, Wild Rivers Conservancy

Once you figure out where you are going and when you will visit the river, then it’s time to find the right kayak. If you don’t own your own kayak, you can rent from several helpful and courteous outfitters along the St. Croix and Namekaon Rivers to help guide you in the right direction. You can choose from single or tandem kayaks or even a canoe. Outfitters can also provide you with a shuttle back to your vehicle after a long day on the river.

However, if you don’t want to plan your own on-river experience, you can let our staff at Wild Rivers Conservancy do all of the planning for you! From an evening on the St. Croix, to a day on the Namekagon looking for fish, we have you covered. Each of our day paddles provides you with on-river education opportunities to connect you to plants and wildlife, and other engaging aspects of this wild and scenic place. Paddle excursions are fully supported with seasoned staff guides, premium kayaks, paddles, and PFDs, as well as a shuttle service back to your vehicle.

Find more information on all of our 2024 paddle adventures and register here:

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