National Park Service urges St. Croix River visitors to plan ahead

Check conditions and maps, ask for advice, stay safe, and leave no trace.




2 minute read

Via the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway:

Ranger Bob Downs talks with paddlers at the Lower Dalles near Sand Island (National Park Service photo)

With summer’s arrival, many people are in search of some cool relief on the water. Our recent hot and dry weather means planning ahead is essential for a safe and fun visit to the St. Croix and Namekagon rivers. National Park Service rangers at the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway have the following tips to share.

Have a Plan

Start your visit to the St. Croix and Namekagon rivers at home by exploring the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway website – Get ideas about where to go, what to see, what to do, and most important, what to include in your planning. Flexibility and a backup plan are key, too, in case of changing weather conditions, road closures, or other unexpected situations.

River conditions are updated at least weekly on the website. Currently, many sections of the Riverway have low water levels. Plan ahead so you know what to expect and make the best choices for an enjoyable experience. No one wants to be dragging a canoe or kayak for any length of time. Nor do boaters want to run aground or hit debris that is usually underwater. Low water can also make it very challenging to launch watercraft. Vehicles should not attempt to back into rocky or muddy areas off the end of paved ramps.

The Riverway website also has maps, river descriptions, mileage charts and recommendations from rangers, as well as information on businesses that provide equipment rentals, shuttles, guided trips, and scenic tours.

Ask a Ranger

Have a question? Ask a park ranger. We’re always here to help and can provide information about what activities are available. Call or stop by one of the visitor centers.

  • St. Croix River Visitor Center, 10:00 to 5:00 daily
    401 North Hamilton, St. Croix Falls, WI 715-483-2274
  • Namekagon River Visitor Center, 10:00 to 5:00, Thursday through Monday
    W5483 US Highway 63, Trego, WI 715-635-8346

Safety First

A great visit to the Riverway includes safety every step of the way.

Wear your life jacket. It may feel strange to wear a life jacket with low river levels or on a hot summer day. Remember, a river still has a current and an uneven streambed. Deep holes and debris may not be visible from the surface and can surprise even experienced river users.

Know your paddling ability. Low water has different challenges than when rivers are running high.

Hydrate and protect yourself from the sun.

Jumping or diving from bridges, cliffs, or trees is always prohibited.

Leave Only Footprints

We know that each of us plays a vital role in protecting YOUR national parks. Whether it’s carrying out what we brought in, leaving the spots we visit as we found them, or staying on the trail, we’re careful to respect these incredible places. Thanks for doing your part!


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National Park Service urges St. Croix River visitors to plan ahead