ST. CROIX NATIONAL SCENIC RIVERWAY

Much of the 164-mile St. Croix River forms the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin, and it was one of only eight waterways originally designated as a "National Wild and Scenic River" by the federal government in 1968. It's widely considered one of the best canoeing rivers in the nation, and also offers some of the best smallmouth bass fishing to be found, as well as great fishing for many other species.

The Minnesota portion of the scenic river runs from St. Croix State Park, north of Pine City, to where the St. Croix meets the Mississippi River at Hastings. In addition to five particularly gorgeous state parks, there are numerous regional and city parks as well as primitive National Park Service campsites along the shore.

St. Croix River and surrounding area from Taylor Falls to Stillwater | Explore Minnesota

The portion of the river north of Taylors Falls is particularly quiet and remote from signs of civilization, with motorboats less common than canoes. Motorboats are more common below Taylors Falls, though canoeing and kayaking are quite popular along the entire river.

Just below the dam, Interstate State Park has self-guided trails along distinctive glacial potholes and dramatic cliffs overlooking the river, where rock climbing is popular as well. Adjacent to the park, Wild Mountain runs guided paddleboat excursions, some with meals, from May through the fall color season in mid-October.

Taylors Falls Scenery | Explore Minnesota

MISSISSIPPI NATIONAL RIVER & RECREATION AREA

A 72-mile-long river park covers 54,000 acres from Dayton to Hastings, passing right through the heart of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Mississippi National River & Recreation Area (MNRRA) is a special sort of national park, called a "partnership park," which works with local, regional, and state partners who own and manage land along the river, joining forces to protect and preserve the great river's wealth or natural, recreational, historic, and cultural resources.

The recreation area offers a variety of park ranger-led activities, such as talks, hikes, demonstrations, and occasional opportunities to get out on the water. Most activities are coordinated out of the Mississippi River Visitor Center, which features new exhibits, in the lobby of the Science Museum of Minnesota in beautiful downtown St. Paul.

Mississippi River gorge MNRRA | Explore Minnesota

North Mississippi Regional Park | Explore Minnesota                                                                                           Ranger Brian & Kids MNRRA | Explore Minnesota


A few of the many worthwhile stops along the route include hiking, biking, and fishing at Coon Rapids Regional Park and Hidden Falls-Crosby Farm Regional Park in St. Paul; a two-mile self-guided Heritage Trail at the powerful St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis; living history demonstrations at Historic Fort Snelling; and fishing, walking, biking, and taking in the view at Hastings River Flats Park.

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