Wild River State Park

In the area

From Explore MN Tourism

Park Info

Image of Wild River State Park

Quick stats

6,756 acres
199,896 annual visits
34,315 overnight visits


Naturalist Programs are available year-round. Pick up a schedule of activities at the park office, or go to the Events Calendar. The park also provides programs to schools and other groups upon request. Call (651) 583-2925 for more information.


Wild River provides habitat for a variety of wildlife. Hawks, owls, eagles, and a diversity of songbirds are common. The tracks of beaver, raccoon, fox, coyote, otter, mink, and deer are often seen in the soft earth or snow. Northern pike, walleye, and smallmouth bass are found in the St. Croix River. Squirrels and other small mammals thrive in oak forests and savannas. Prairie restoration sites are increasingly used by meadowlarks and grassland sparrows.


The St. Croix River Valley was first occupied by nomadic people 6,000 years ago. For thousands of years, the valley was home for the Dakota and Ojibwe Indians. Samuel's Fur Post and Connor's Goose Creek Post were active in 1847. After Minnesota became a territory in 1849, a military road was constructed through the park. It was part of the route from Hastings to Lake Superior and a portion of it is still evident today. The towns of Sunrise and Amador were founded in the 1850s. The great white pine logging era resulted in the building of Nevers Dam in 1890. The dam operated until 1912. Read more: Nevers Dam...The Lumberman's Dam This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it..

The park was established to protect the natural and cultural resources and to provide recreational opportunities along the St. Croix River. The park's name "Wild River" is derived from the fact that the St. Croix River was one of the original eight rivers protected by the U.S. Congress through the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. Nearly 5,000 of the park's total 6,803 acres were donated by Northern States Power Company.


Wild River's varied landscape was created by the events of the last Ice Age. Over one million years ago, glaciers up to a mile in depth moved into the region. Ten thousand years ago the melting of the last glacier formed both the Duluth and Grantsburg Glacial Lakes. These lakes supplied the water power that created the present St. Croix River Valley.


Wild River State Park lies within the Anoka Sand Plain and Mille Lacs Uplands subsections. This region is on the southern edge of the transition zone of pine forest, hardwood forest, and oak savanna. Once covered by Glacial Lake Grantsburg, this area today is a smooth and sandy plain. The few ridges may represent islands that stood above the lake level. Prescribed burns are conducted annually to better manage and restore oak savanna and prairie areas.