Description - Free flowing and unpolluted, the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers flow through some of the most scenic and least developed country in the Upper Midwest. Today 252 miles of these rivers are preserved as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, which includes the Namekagon, was established in 1968 as one of the original eight rivers under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Lower St. Croix National Scenic Riverway was added to the system in 1972. Together they form a Riverway that offers outdoor enthusiasts a chance to enjoy a wilderness-like experience and a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities within easy reach of a major metropolitan area. Three wolf packs have been documented along the corridor and bald eagles and osprey routinely nest above the shoreline. The Riverway is managed through the cooperative efforts of the National Park Service, Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources, and Northern States Power Company.
There are two Wisconsin State Parks and five Minnesota State Parks along the St. Croix River. Chequamegon National Forest is located near the upper Namekagon River.
- On the upper St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers rapids challenge the canoeist, although none of the Riverway's waters are classified as whitewater. At the lower end, where the river widens out at Lake St. Croix; power and sailboating are popular. Campers, picnickers, swimmers, and bird watchers enjoy its variety of scenes throughout. Anglers are attracted by the variety of fish from trout and bass to muskellunge and sturgeon. There are seven hiking trails bordering the Namekagon and St. Croix. Cross-country skiers enjoy two groomed trails in winter.
A good way to begin your trip to the region and to gather information is to stop by the visitor center nearest your destination. They contain exhibits, audio-visual programs, information concerning high or low water levels, and knowledgeable staff to answer your questions. Visitor centers are located in Stillwater, Minnesota; St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin; Trego, Wisconsin; and Pine City, Minnesota. All the visitor centers in the Park are accessible.
Educational programs are available to schools in the Riverway corridor. During the summer, programs are offered to the public at adjacent parks and campgrounds. Other programs are available upon request and include themes dealing with ecosystems, wildlife, history, and resource management.
There is numerous primitive camping throughout the Riverway; developed campsites are located along the upper river. NPS campgrounds are primitive and only accommodate tents. The region's state and private campgrounds offer more developed facilities including RV camping. Primitive sites are available all year. Some sites are appropriate for groups. Sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No fees or permits are required. There is a one night limit at all campsites above Nevers Dam and you must camp at designated sites. There is a seven day limit at all sites below Nevers Dam to Stillwater, MN. From Nevers Dam to Taylor's Falls, open camping is permitted on the Wisconsin side. On the Minnesota side, several canoe access sites are available in Wild River State Park. From Taylor's Falls to Stillwater, there are several camping zones. Contact the Riverway Headquarters for a map of the zones. Most campsites are accessible by watercraft only; a few are accessible by car. Lodging is available in nearby communities including Stillwater, Taylors Falls, St. Croix Falls, Pine City, Grantsburg, Hayward and Cable.
Recreation - A variety of recreational activities can be enjoyed in this picturesque setting including: canoeing, boating, camping, hiking, fishing, observing plants and wildlife, bird watching, photography, cross-country skiing, showshoeing and hunting.
Climate - Northwest Wisconsin has four distinct seasons with warm summers and long winters. Great Lakes Michigan and Superior tend to make summers cooler and winters milder close to shore. January's average temperature is in the single digits F (-teens C). During summer, temperatures can climb to above 90 degrees F for several days (32 degrees C). Nighttime summer temperatures occasionally dip below freezing. The area's average yearly precipitation ranges from 32-34". Annual snowfalls in the Northwest Region have a wide range; the southern areas may receive 20" while the northern areas may receive in excess of 200". Dressing in layers is a good way to remain comfortable in Wisconsin.
The Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway consists of the Saint Croix and Namekagon Rivers. The Saint Croix forms the northern border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The headquarters visitor center is located on the corner of Hamilton and Massachusetts streets at the end of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.