St. Croix National Scenic Riverway: The Hidden Gem of Northern Wisconsin

Tucked away in the picturesque landscapes of Northern Wisconsin lies the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, a pristine gem that offers an escape into nature’s untouched beauty. This protected area encompasses the St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers, extending for over 200 miles of crystal-clear waters, lush forests, and diverse ecosystems. 

About the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway

Established in 1968 as one of the original eight rivers under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Riverway provides a sanctuary for wildlife and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Its tranquil waters and scenic surroundings make it an ideal destination for those seeking adventure, relaxation, and a deeper connection with nature. 

The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is truly the perfect place to enjoy thrilling water activities or find tranquility away from the noise of modern life. Let’s take a look at some of the most enjoyable activities you can try if you have plans to visit this pristine area!

Kayaking and Canoeing on the Namekagon River and St. Croix River

For paddling enthusiasts, the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers offer some of the finest kayaking and canoeing experiences in the Midwest. The Namekagon River, often referred to as ‘Wisconsin’s Moving National Park’ is known for its gentle currents and clear waters, making it perfect for both novice and experienced paddlers. As you glide downstream, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of dense forests, rolling hills, and the occasional sandy beach, ideal for a picnic or a swim.

The St. Croix River, wider and more powerful, presents a slightly more challenging adventure, so it’s important to plan your trip with safety in mind. It winds through dramatic cliffs and offers thrilling rapids in certain sections, particularly near the Interstate State Park. Regardless of your skill level, the riverway provides numerous access points and outfitters that offer equipment rentals and guided tours, ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey. 

Whether you’re embarking on a multi-day expedition or a short day trip, the rivers’ serene beauty and the rhythmic sound of your paddle dipping into the water create an unforgettable experience.

Fishing on the Namekagon River and St. Croix River

Anglers will find the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers teeming with opportunities to reel in a variety of fish species. Fly fishing enthusiasts will find the shallow, gravelly sections of the Namekagon River perfect for casting their lines in hopes of catching various fish. While the St. Croix River, with its deeper waters and larger size, offers diverse fishing experiences, including species such as smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, and muskellunge.

Whether fishing from the shore, a boat, or wading into the water, anglers can enjoy a peaceful day surrounded by nature while waiting for the thrill of a bite. Remember to check local fishing regulations and obtain the necessary permits, as conservation efforts are vital to maintaining the riverway’s rich biodiversity.

Wildlife Viewing on the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway

The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is a haven for wildlife, providing ample opportunities for nature lovers to observe a wide array of species in their natural habitats. As you paddle or fish along the rivers, keep an eye out for bald eagles soaring overhead, their nests often spotted in the tall trees lining the riverbanks. River otters and beavers can be seen frolicking in the water, while white-tailed deer and raccoons are common sights along the shores.

Birdwatchers will be delighted by the variety of avian species that inhabit the riverway, including great blue herons, ospreys, and songbirds. In the quieter, more secluded areas, you might even catch a glimpse of a black bear. The diverse ecosystems of the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers support a rich tapestry of wildlife, making each visit a unique and exciting experience.

Exploring the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway offers an unparalleled experience, blending adventure and tranquility in one of Northern Wisconsin’s most beautiful landscapes. Whether you’re paddling through the serene waters, casting a line in hopes of a catch, or simply soaking in the diverse wildlife, each moment spent here promises to be memorable. This hidden gem, with its lush forests and crystal-clear rivers, is a testament to the natural beauty that Wisconsin has to offer. 

As you plan your visit, remember that the St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers await, ready to provide an escape into nature’s untouched splendor. So pack your gear, grab your permits, and immerse yourself in the wonder of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway—where every adventure becomes a cherished memory.