on October 3, 2012
The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is comprised by the St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers, stretching over 250 miles starting in Wisconsin and converging to form the state border with Minnesota. The rivers provide many opportunities for nature enthusiasts to get out and enjoy the outdoors on foot or by boat. Wildlife is abundant largely due to the thriving and healthy waterways throughout the area. Additionally there are several areas suitable for camping. Be sure to check out the permit requirements, especially if you are planning to traverse the river stopping along your route to camp.I started my time in the area at the St. Croix Falls Visitor Center, located along the river just above the Taylor Falls hydroelectric dam. This is a nice place to begin your journey especially if you are unfamiliar with the history of this region of the United States.With the backdrop of the beautiful fall colors, the river reflected like a mirrored surface. If you cross over Hwy 8 into Minnesota, you have the opportunity to take a leisurely drive along the St. Croix Scenic Byway. The road parallels the river, allowing for great vista views across to Wisconsin. Often the road hugged along the sheer cliffs above, sometimes only exposing the barren rock face that is best viewed from the Wisconsin side of the river.Just south of St. Croix Falls on either side of the river is the Interstate Park. I ventured down to the river on the Wisconsin side hoping to see some wildlife. Unfortunately, I did not see anything but I still enjoyed the drive along the densely wooded forest that was ablaze in reds, yellows and oranges. I especially liked that the fall peak colors had yet to arrive, so there was a very nice blend of greens throughout.There are a number of hiking trails throughout the park, as well as picnic areas large enough to host groups including company picnics and family reunions. At the very end of the park road was a boat launch area where a group of paddlers were getting ready to head out onto the river by canoe.Along the St. Croix Scenic Byway, just north of Stillwater, MN is the Arcola Mills historic site. See my review highlighting this interesting look back into the logging and mill industry of the 19th century.In addition to driving along the river via scenic roads in both Wisconsin and Minnesota, visitors may want to consider taking the Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway's train ride which starts and ends in Osceola, WI. I did this and thoroughly enjoyed the leisurely trip crossing over into Minnesota. Check out my review on my experiences with them.The St. Croix River meets up with the Mississippi River south of Stillwater, MN at Prescott, WI which was where I crossed back over into Wisconsin from Minnesota. If you make that far south, be sure to stop in at the Great River Road Visitor Center in Prescott which tells the story of the Mississippi River in this region of the United States.For more information on the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, check out the US National Park Service's webpage: http://www.nps.gov/sacn/index.htm .
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