Welcome to the Interstate State Park virtual tour! In this journey you'll peek inside the visitor center, meander the trails, study the park's potholes and geological features and marvel at rock climbers scaling the basalt cliffs. We hope it prompts you to visit the park in person sometime soon.
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Works Progress Administration masons, with the help of Civilian Conservation Corps staff, crafted this stone structure in the 1930s. Built from local basalt rock, the historic building once served as a refectory.
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In Visitor Center
The visitor center's interpretive displays reveal the amazing geologic history of Interstate State Park.
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Visitors wanting to take home a reminder of their visit to the park may find just what they need in the Nature Store.
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White pines are deeply linked with the history of this area. From the mid to late 1800s, lumberjacks cut pines in northern forests and floated them down the St. Croix River to Stillwater to be turned into lumber. If you stood here on a spring day in the late 1800s, you would find a river covered by logs. Sure-footed men called "river pigs" moved these logs downstream with special tools called pike poles and peavey hooks. The men often struggled with record log jams on this stretch of the river, some of which took weeks of dangerous work to clear. The excitement of the log jams began tourism in the area and drew thousands of tourists by steamboat and train. Although the forests once seemed endless, by 1914, the last log drive was sent downstream.
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Interstate State Park was so named because it was the first park created that spanned two states: Minnesota Interstate State Park was created in 1895, and Wisconsin Interstate State Park followed five years later. The two parks share the same geologic history, but offer different sights and experiences. If you choose to explore Wisconsin Interstate State Park, you will need a Wisconsin State Park vehicle sticker.
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Glacial Potholes Area
Over 200 potholes of various sizes can be found carved into the basalt bedrock at Interstate State Park. These holes were drilled by the powerful waters of the Glacial St. Croix River 10,000 years ago. Where water and sand swirled, a pothole was formed. Trails within the Glacial Potholes Area wind for less than half a mile along the St. Croix River. Along these pathways, you'll find hidden steps from the park's early days, beautiful overlooks, and potholes with unique names such as the Cauldron, Bake Oven, and the Devil's Parlor. The deepest explored pothole in the world is also here—the 60-foot deep "Bottomless Pit!"
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Enjoy a breathtaking view of the St. Croix River when you make the short walk to Angle Rock. At this point, the river makes a 90 degree turn and follows the path of an ancient rift. The rift was a series of large cracks that split the earth's crust 1.1 billion years ago. Lava spilled out of the rift and pooled over a large area from Canada, through Michigan, Wisconsin, eastern Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. When the lava cooled and hardened, it became the basalt rock found throughout the park. Much later, the glacial St. Croix River rushed downstream and encountered the inactive rift in the basalt bedrock. It was easier for the river to wear through that crack, so it took a sharp curve to flow there.
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St. Croix Valley
Experience what the French named the "Dalles" of the St. Croix River. The term refers to the rocky basalt gorge through which the river flows today. The St. Croix River has been designated a National Wild and Scenic Riverway, giving special environmental protection to this beautiful area.
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Enter the Devil's Parlor, a geologic wonder with a historic name! Once a series of smaller potholes, the glacial St. Croix River eventually wore the Devil's Parlor into the open area present today. The spot was named long ago, when it was thought potholes were created by the supernatural.
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Experience the inside of a pothole when you take the stairs down into the Bake Oven Pothole. The side of this pothole was worn away by the glacial St. Croix River, forming a perfect entryway for visitors to step into. The pothole received its name from this side entrance, which once looked like the window of an old-fashioned bake oven.
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Tourist Rock is one of several popular climbing areas within the park. The fractured basalt rock offers unique crack and face routes with scenic views. No permanent protection is affixed at the park. Individual climbers need to fill out a park climbing permit before climbing. Organized groups that wish to climb need a commercial climbing permit, which may be obtained from the park office with at least one week prior notice.
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Highway 95 Overlook
Enjoy beautiful views of the St. Croix River at one of several overlooks along the River Trail. This 1.25 mile trail is a linear path between the glacial pothole area and the park's campground. The River Trail includes up and downhill hiking through wooded areas bordering the river, and offers glimpses of a variety of plants and wildlife along the way.
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Stay awhile and camp in one of the park's 37 campsites! Enjoy amenities such as a shower house, electric hook-ups and river views during your stay.
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A small boat launch is available for those interested in spending a day on the river. Set your hook and go fishing, or plan a day paddling downriver. A canoe concession operating within the park offers seasonal canoe and kayak rentals.
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Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy two shelters and numerous picnic tables set along the scenic St. Croix River. Grill out on several available grills, or rent a shelter for a family event or group meeting.
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The Sandstone Bluffs Trail winds along walls of sandstone rock deposited 500-600 million years ago by an ancient sea. In most areas within the park, this soft rock was later worn away by the rushing waters of the glacial St. Croix River. This one mile trail is the most challenging of the four trails within the park, but the breathtaking view at its peak is well worth the uphill hike.
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Overlook the beautiful St. Croix Valley from this vantage point. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin are visible from here, with the St. Croix River threading below. The Sandstone Bluffs Trail that leads you here is a challenging one mile loop built for those who enjoy up and downhill hiking.