• Canoeists paddle by tree lined shores

    Saint Croix

    National Scenic Riverway WI,MN

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  • Water Levels Above Average From Stillwater, Minnesota To The Mississippi River

    Water levels on the St. Croix from near Stillwater, Minnesota down to its confluence with the Mississippi River are above average for this time of year. Water levels elsewhere on the St. Croix and Namekagon are near normal summer conditions.

Big Bend to Namekagon River Visitor Center

View of a blue river through green leafed trees.

The view of the Namekagon River From Big Bend Landing

NPS

Scenic Meandering
Distance: 7.7 Miles
Duration: 2-4 Hours (+/- depending on paddling pace and river conditions)
Difficulty: Easy - Some riffles with occasional rock gardens
Location: Middle Namekagon - Near Earl [Map 2]
[Interactive Map 2]

The first half of this journey wanders lazily through low-banked woods. With a sandy-bottom, this is an excellent area to swim. Passing Earl Landing the river banks become steeper with a larger diversity of fauna, making for one of the most scenic and popular stretches of river for tubers, paddlers and anglers. There are also occasional rock gardens to navigate and one stretch of quicker current as the river approaches Highway 63. Afterwards, the river widens out in a low marshland area, becoming braided with islands. Watch for the main channel to avoid scrapping! Blue Herons, Bald Eagles and Osprey are frequently sighted along this stretch of river. Be sure to stop by the Namekagon River Visitor Center after your paddle.

River-Level Considerations: This stretch of the Middle Namekagon is generally floatable throughout the season. In particularly low rainfall there may be instances of scraping bottom that may require some walking - especially on the stretch after highway 63 near the islands. Consult River Levels page for information about current conditions.

Along the way:
4 campsites (3 are group sites)
1 walk-in group sites with picnic tables at Earl Landing.
1 River Landing - Earl
Potable Water at Earl Landing

Multi-Day Extension: This trip can be extended by starting further up the Namekagon River. Most of the river above Big Bend to Stinett is more exciting, narrow river with frequent low-hazard riffles and rapids. However, it is much closer to Highway 63, which in many cases is audible. Below the Namekagon River Visitor Center, the five mile long Trego Flowage begins. The flowage is slow paddling and requires contending with motorized watercraft in an extended section of developed river-front.

Return to Ranger Recommended Paddles

Did You Know?

What looks like a striped fish with several tails is actually the opening of the mussel shell which is hard to see.

Mussels rely on fish to carry their young around until they are old enough to drop to the river bottom. To attract the fish and attach their young, mussels put on displays that make fish think they are fish or other food. The mussel shell, which is all we normally see, is now barely visible.