By Jim Umhoefer
Chisago County. Park entrance is off Highway 8 at the southern edge of Taylors Falls along the St. Croix River.
Highway map index: L-15.
At the point where the smooth-flowing St. Croix River suddenly plunges over rocks and twists through a narrow, cliff-lined gorge are two unusual state parks. Both are called interstate State Park, formed as a joint venture between Minnesota and Wisconsin in 1895 to preserve the wild scenery of the St. Croix Dalles. These were the first interstate state parks in the United States
Each state operates its own park but cooperates with the other by offering complementary services. The Wisconsin side, for example, has a large campground, while the Minnesota segment has a small but busy 37-site (22 electric) semi-modern campground. Wild River and William O'Brien, two Minnesota state parks that are upriver and downriver neighbors to Interstate, also feature spacious semi-modern campgrounds. The Wisconsin park has a guarded swimming beach, but there is no swimming on the Minnesota side. Both parks have boat landings (fishing is good for most game fish, including northern, walleye and small mouth bass). Canoes can be rented in Minnesota's park or you can tour the dalles (the steep precipices that form the walls of the river valley) on excursion boats that dock at the park's northern end in Taylors falls. The St. Croix River is state-designated canoe route. Read more: