This was my first time camping EVER, and I wanted a balance of car camping ease with quiet wilderness. I stayed in the E loop. No electric sites, which cut down the number of big rig RVs, but there were plenty of small campers and trailers. To me, this means louder guests than tent campers. That said, people tended to quiet down by 9-10p. There was occasional noise during the day from crop dusters and motorized boat traffic on the St. Croix.
Site 87 had nice privacy — less between sites 87 and 89 and much more between 87 and 85 (see photos). Site 89 is a double site, so be prepared for a little more activity if someone books there. If I went again, I'd try to snag site 85. Large trees and vegetation between sites, especially on the outside loop. Plenty of space for hammocks. The site itself was level and very spacious. We had a five person tent and could have put up a bug house easily. The fire pit was clean and had a grate on top. Pit toilets were clean and had plenty of toilet paper, especially for the end of a holiday weekend. Bugs were minimal, but could have been because the weather was on the cooler side (50s-60s).
A couple random notes:
Firewood is $6/bundle. Self-pay available if the ranger station is closed. Bring exact change since you'll be paying by envelope.
The ranger station was open for window service, and they sold fire starters, soda, t-shirts, etc. Not sure when hours are exactly. They were open when I went around 3-4p Sunday and Monday to buy wood.
Cell reception for T-Mobile was minimal to non-existent.
We stayed in campsite 29 in the drive in campsite over Labor Day weekend. The park was great - lots of hiking options, very clean (including the bathrooms), available water, right along the river. #29 definitely wouldn't be my first pick, but we booked late and it was one of the two left. No pad, which was fine (some of the sites do have pads, though). You could easily fit two tents in the site - it was a nice big area and looked kind of empty with just our one tent! The site isn't particularly private, since it was in the center of the loop, and if anyone ends up in the campsite behind you (#33), you're really pretty close - we lucked out and no one showed up until we were leaving. On the other hand, if people wanted to double camp, those two sites would be great together! It was a busy weekend, but people seemed to be pretty quiet after 10 pm. #30 looked like an awesome site and probably had the most privacy of the B lane. The restrooms were between A and B lanes (walkway between #24 & #26, #26 was pretty exposed to people walking back and forth) and was pretty busy - and not many people following the mask rule for the park. The campsites in general were pretty busy (Labor Day weekend probably contributed to that), there are a lot of sites, and it's close-ish to the cities, so if you're really looking to get away from people this probably isn't the ideal park. Lots of dogs, too. But, the sites were right next to the hiking paths and the park has a ton to see. We had a good time! We hiked past the Spring Creek campsite area and it looked really great, if you want to carry your stuff in.
I usually camp on weekdays bc of the smallest crowds and I had a wonderful relaxing time! Great bike trails, river access, and clean sites.
First time to this park. It’s a nice distance from the cities, not too far. We planned on attending their candlelight ski and decided to camp. The campground was fully reserved but was empty, the low was 10 so people must have bowed out. The campsite was plowed out and had a nice spot for the tent. The sites were far enough apart and it looked like it would be more private when the leaves come in.
The park is huge and beautiful. We snowshoed and skied. I really enjoyed the snowshoe hike along the St Croix River and watched the full moon rise. The ski trails were groomed and there were miles of trails. The candlelight ski was great and the routes were marked with different colored luminaries - for hiking and skiing. We really enjoyed that. Would like to return to explore more of the park.
Best state park
Quiet nice spots
Backpack site Buck Hill is right on the river, beautiful view to the east. Circled by flowers (goldenrod in the late summer), brush and trees. End of the path so zero foot traffic / passersby. Fine size for us but if you had two tents maybe tight. Fire ring and picnic table of course. No drinking water (we brought a bladder). It’s a great place to star gaze. There’s a teeny somewhat treacherous path to the river- no beach or anything (water was super low when we went) - Just can get your feet wet.
Down the path a little bit is an unenclosed toilet - not the best. The other direction down the path (only about 20 ft) is a smallish bear box.
You can harvest your own wood (at this time) and that was really great - bring a backpacking saw!
Only downside to the site— you can hear cars on both sides (river and opposite side of forest).
It was a 2.37 mile walk from the parking lot, mostly shaded.
Side note: we checked out Deer Creek site which is much closer to the car. It is a hike in / canoe site. It’s wayyy more spacious, and even has two separate clearings. Also has cool stairs down the to water, and a much more expansive view of the river. We will be staying there next time! We want to take a few days to canoe the whole length of the park, camping along the different sites. Next year! :)
I’ve camped here on several occasions and have not been disappointed. The group sites are walk ins only. No drive ins/pull through. They are spaced out enough for privacy. The individual sites are decent & drive in. The space between sites are far enough apart. There are a couple of double sites that will accommodate more than 6 people but less than 13. We’ve rented canoes in the past and have enjoyed it primary because of the sandbars, but have not done it recently so I’m not sure if that has changed or not. The mosquitos were bad in late June! Even with bug spray, candles thermacell, etc…we were still under massive attacked. I’ve always enjoyed coming here year after year, not so much because of the park (although it’s nice overall), but because this place holds lots of memories for me.
Wild River was a great campground, and only about an hour drive from the Twin Cities. The sites were nicely shaded and roomy for our tent and screen tent.
There is ample hiking, however due to early spring rains, many of the trails near the St. Croix were flooded, which is pretty typical for the river in the spring. We would have liked a swimming beach for the kids, but they enjoyed exploring the trails, especially the trail with a lookout over the river.
The great thing about June is that the bugs weren't bad at all. We escaped early in the morning due to impending rain, but found a lovely brunch spot on the way back to the cities.
Wild River State Park is my go-to campground since it is within an hour of my home. I make it my first place to camp every season. Love the scenic trails and all the park has to offer. Hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, exploring, informational programs, and the wooded campsites.