The St. Croix River is about 200 miles long. It’s a big river, and its watershed is vast. It drains more than 7,700 square miles in Minnesota and Wisconsin — an area about the size of New Jersey. All of this land affects the river, and contributes to its wildness, ecological health, and stories.
This landscape is broad and diverse, so St. Croix 360 is launching a new series to share maps of the watershed that illustrate its various attributes. The first in this series is starting with the basics: water.
The map below shows the major tributaries and lakes of the St. Croix River watershed. The labeled lakes are larger than three square kilometers, and the labeled rivers are the significant tributaries by my own arbitrary decision.
Without all these lakes and streams, the St. Croix simply would not exist! Rain that falls on the watershed, and snow that falls and melts here, eventually finds its way to the river by traveling across the surface, or soaking in and entering groundwater, where it eventually re-emerges through springs.
This water data all comes from the U.S. Geological Survey. This federal agency is responsible for a great deal of science and information about the United States’ resources. Its National Hydrology Dataset is the authoritative source for data about lakes and rivers.
Based on this data, there are 9,402 miles of streams, and 15,314 lakes — 2,207 that are 10 acres or larger.
Top 10 largest lakes in the St. Croix River watershed (acres in parentheses):
- Lake Saint Croix (10,864)
- Namekagon Lake (4,792)
- Rush Lake (4,378)
- Nelson Lake (3,917)
- Shell Lake (3,601)
- Yellow Lake (3,282)
- Saint Croix Flowage (3,250)
- Forest Lake (3,209)
- Pokegama Lake (2,947)
- Balsam Lake (2,711)
In the coming weeks, St. Croix 360 will publish more maps of the watershed, showing attributes like geology, public land, human history and culture, land types, and more. Stay tuned!