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Three campgrounds, first come first serve. $10/day entry $40/daily for electric hook up (non-resident); no full hook-ups, no water, only 1 vault toilet open per campground. Year round availability, however- tough to find! Very hard to get a cellular connection (T-mobile). Beautiful views of the river, right along the edge if you tent camp. Multiple playgrounds, hiking trails and loads of nature, large beach and waterfalls.
Site 20 has an absolutely outstanding view of Lake Pepin and fall colors. The first and second loops have a mix of tent sites and electric sites, but it was quiet and peaceful. The electric sites seem small, so big rigs are deterred from setting up shop(and generators). The third and fourth loops are non-electric and also pretty closely packed in. The sites on the inside of all the loops are TINY and there’s very little privacy between sites. My top sites would be 5, 19e, 20, 22, 42, 46, and 49 in terms of view and privacy.
Site 20 has adequate privacy between sites—but everyone on the trail can see your campsite, and the trail from the campsite to the bluff trail is right next door. All of this is offset by the gorgeous view. Plenty of trees for hammocks if you’re on the outside circle. The site itself was level and had a very spacious gravel tent area. The fire pit was clean and had a grate on top. Restrooms were clean with lots of social distance signage. When the wind died down, you could easily hear trains—there are several that run nearby.
A couple random notes:
- Firewood is $6/bundle and ice is $3/bag (5 lbs). Both are self-pay with the options of cash, check, or credit card.
- Cell reception for T-Mobile was good.
Great state park with lots of amenities. This was only my second camping trip, my first being the superior trail with an 8 mile hike in and no amenities. More fun in my opinion to search for your own firewood and really rough it, but it was to have water and wood available close to the site we were at (site 22) because we got in later and lost some daylight. The hike in was shorter and far less strenuous than my first trip, but note that it is uphill. If you’re carrying a heavy pack, expect to sweat a bit. Paved sidewalks into the park, wide dirt and rocky paths into the camp site which was nice given the amount of other day hikers (space to spread out). My boyfriend and I loved that our site was so secluded. There is also a lot of variety to the sites. The sites 1 through about 10 (if my memory doesn’t fail me) are fairly wooded. Our site had a nice balance of wooded area and open terrain/sky. We were lucky to get to see some beautiful fall colors.
A few notes: the wood provided is THICK. They must haul the logs in with a truck. Saws are provided at the wood site, but be prepared to take some time on it. We had a hand saw so we were able to pack our packs with some large pieces and do some sawing at our campsite as the sawing station was busy with families and other campers. Lots of bark available to get a good fire started. The wood is not covered so if it rains the night before you come in, be ready to deal with some damp wood.
Water station takes about 30 seconds to start up. There are also two bathrooms within the camp site that are what you expect them to be. Hand sanitizer and TP stocked.
Never saw a ranger while we were there. We loved the privacy. Lots of spiders. Comes with the terrain.
The site was perfect for our hammocks. They are super kind if you want to call ahead to get an idea of what your site looks like. It was also great to be able to see what other sites were occupied on the day we decided to make a reservation. There is a grill top on your fire pit (we packed our own grill top, could’ve left it at home).
Overall it was a great overnight trip. Close to our home so I’m sure we’ll be back for a quick trip next year.
William O'Brien has two different campgrounds and we ended up staying at Savannah, and it was a really nice little campground. Most sites are relatively secluded, except mine which was kind of wide open and the location of a firewood drop box (74E). It was super large, though, so if there was a bigger party you could easily fit a few tents. The campground was really nice, but I'd probably pick a different site next time.
The hiking at the park was fantastic. We did one longer hike that had some surprisingly good views. It was hillier than I thought it would be - not a tough hike, but hillier in that you could experience some nice views. The second day we did the river side hike, which was also very pretty but was also much more popular. I'd recommend an early morning visit to that one, especially during these Covid times.
Unrelated to the park, if you forgot any supplies, the general store in Marine on St. Croix was adorable and had really good sandwiches. Like another review said, either way I'd recommend driving in from that way regardless - the winding road and the tree canopy is really pretty.
Cart-in sites are nice, though a little clustered. You can't see other sites like you would at a drive in site. We biked the nearby Cannon Valley Trail, which was great.
There were a variety of woodpeckers working on the trees, which was very cool.
There are train tracks near the park and they do sound their horn. It didn't bother us though.
4th picture is Eagle Point, which is half a mile from the cart-in sites.
My first time solo camping was at William O'Brien State Park on a Sunday evening. Weekends have been packed and reservations scarce for months at state parks in Minnesota. Arriving on a Sunday afternoon was a dream—very few people in the campground loop (especially the non-electric ones), but still able to take advantage of a weekend day.
Per others' advice, I stayed at Savannah campground because the sites are slightly bigger and more private than Riverway. Compared to Wild River State Park, the sites at Savannah are pretty cramped with inconsistent vegetation between sites. I wouldn't want to stay here when the loop is fully reserved. On a Sunday evening with only one other site reserved, it felt like I had the place to myself.
Site 117 was level, had decent privacy, and was more spacious than some of the other sites (could have put up a 3-5 person tent and a bug house). The fire pit was clean and had a grate on top. There were trees to hang a hammock. The hiking trail was about 500' away, and you could hear the occasional hiker. When the wind died down, you could also occasionally hear the loud motorcycles on the highway. Water was easy to access, but the pit toilet is in the next loop over. If I stayed again, I might try site 121 or 123 since they have more privacy.
Sites 98, 110, 111, 112, 113, and 114 are right on the road into the campground with some tree coverage and prairie behind. These do not feel very private at all.
A couple random notes:
- Firewood is $6/bundle. Self-pay available at site 74e if the ranger station is closed. Bring exact change since you'll be paying by envelope.
- Cell reception for T-Mobile was minimal to non-existent. Wifi is available in the visitor center parking lot.
- Do yourself a favor and arrive in Marine on St. Croix via Broadway Street / Maple Street. The tree canopy, winding roads, and tunnel are worth it.