New St. Croix River boat ramp to open next year

Launch will offer boaters access to a popular stretch of the lower St. Croix.




2 minute read

St. Croix Crossing (Greg Seitz/St. Croix 360)

A new boat launch located underneath the St. Croix Crossing bridge in Oak Park Heights, Minn. should be open by spring of 2022.

The launch will be the last to be completed of 50 mitigation projects included in bridge construction. The $1.2 million river access was included in the nearly $700 million construction budget.

An informal launch has existed at the site for years, with the new one expected to be popular due to deep water, mild current, a convenient location — and limited options for other launches.

That is all according to recent reporting by Mary Divine in the Pioneer Press.

Plans call for the double-ramp boat launch, which will feature 35 boat-trailer parking slots, to be built this fall and open for public use in the spring of 2022.

“Based on our experience at other sites, I would expect this to be full all the time,” [Ken] Skaar, [DNR senior project manager, said. “It’s going to be a popular destination.”

The 35 angled parking slots are the maximum number that will fit.

Overnight parking will be allowed, but extended stays will not. Portable toilets will be provided, but there will be no trash cans. Boaters will be expected to “pack it in, pack it out,” Skaar said.

The boat launch will include a designated aquatic-invasive-species “clean in, clean out” removal area and a bin for disposal of aquatic plants and unwanted bait.

Oak Park Heights City Administrator Eric Johnson said residents are looking forward to having a boat launch in the city. “Will it be a nice asset for our community? Absolutely,” he said. “The more people who can get out on the river, the better.”

St. Croix River: Timeline set for new boat landing in Oak Park Heights, Pioneer Press, Jan. 10, 2021

It was originally intended to be open a year ago. One reason for its delay has been negotiations with the Union Pacific railroad, which owns tracks that cross a access road to the site.

The railroad has not issued permits for the project, and is pushing for the state to move the road off Union Pacific property. But a DNR spokesperson is still hopeful construction will soon commence.

Despite the lower St. Croix River’s popularity with boaters, the Minnesota DNR only has one landing on this stretch: near the St. Croix Boom Site north of Stillwater. During the summer of 2020, that landing’s parking lot was frequently overflowing, with many vehicles and trailers parked illegally. Boaters must also negotiate a large shallow area to reach the main channel from the landing.

The DNR also operates boat landings upriver at William O’Brien, Interstate, Wild River, and St. Croix state parks.


7 responses to “New St. Croix River boat ramp to open next year”

  1. Rob McManus Avatar
    Rob McManus

    No trash cans is a stupid idea. Many people are not responsible for their own waste. If you’ve ever walked the shores of the St. Croix River you know this to be true. I predict there will be trash cans shortly after the opening due to garbage everywhere.

  2. Indiana Avatar

    I agree with Rob’s assessment of the Zero Trash Cans problem! Although, after seeing the trash cans usually always overstuffed and lots of garbage on the ground as a result, maybe this will prevent all the garbage that is left at the site out of the river. Will have to see and give it a chance I guess.

  3. pierrerocket Avatar

    Yeah, a big dumpster is a must. Im over at the Beach House dry dock in Bayport, and the amount of trash partying boaters can generate in a weekend is astonishing. You are going to end up with inconsiderate jerks leaving trash all over the parking lot.

  4. Nate Anderson Avatar
    Nate Anderson

    Take a clue from Wisconsin.. widen the ramp to at least 3 wide … st croix very busy in summer..

  5. Chris Smith Avatar
    Chris Smith

    The lower St. Croix has some of the highest boat densities in the state… Is this really a good idea on a National Wild & Scenic Riverway?

  6. John Erickson Avatar
    John Erickson

    So…let’s add to the vessel congestion on the lower St.Croix without providing any public beach for them to enjoy.
    They’ll end up encroaching on private beaches illegally- who the heck is behind planning this?
    No trash cans at the ramp; really?
    It will end up in the parking lot or on the private beaches trespassed upon.
    It’s just so hard to believe the hardships the new crossing has already placed on the private land owner, let alone this additional intrusion and degradation of their lands.
    Who do you propose to enforce private property rights?
    Would you enjoy strangers partying & defecating in your yard? Please list your address!
    Please cease the degradation of the lower National Scenic River way now!
    What’s next the Ferris Wheel?
    This whole proposed expansion is a under thought poorly planned concept that will create more negative issues ultimately degrading visitors, owners and law enforcement’s experience.
    Not to even mention it is transferring the majority of its negative effects to the people of a neighboring state.
    Just take in all the fumes and noise from rom the crossing and soot from the King Power plant; ya mise well just crack another brewski and crank the toons up!
    Thanks for posting this.

  7. Judith Green Avatar
    Judith Green

    Speed and noise need to be enforced if more traffic is going to be encouraged.


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New St. Croix River boat ramp to open next year