Take Me to the River

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parks and rec



July 2020

Watching the River Flow

Dad and daughter on canoe

Testing the waters

Nothing says summer like dipping your toes in the water and floating down river. And if you get some ice-cream afterwards, you know you are doing summer right. 

Scroll down for water recreation opportunities, from kayaking down the Cannon River to paddleboarding the St. Croix. Minnesota has 35 state water trails, with public water accesses, campsites and rest areas. All combined, that's more than 4,500 miles of paddling. Choose your own adventure with this interactive water trail map, where you can also check river levels.

Enjoy the water and remember: Stay safe, healthy, and six feet away from others!

Two kids on canoe

Selfie time: Capturing another amazing summer day in Minnesota

Track where you are with Avenza maps app

Our state trails icon

Cannon River State Water Trail

Snapping turtle on rock

Bounded by rolling hills, 300-foot high bluffs, farmland and woods in its upper reaches, the Cannon River enters a broad gorge below Cannon Falls.  There are a few rapids (Class 1) that, though not difficult, require caution.

Designated as a wild and scenic river, the Cannon presents plenty of opportunities for wildlife sightings: Look for white-tailed deer, beavers, otters, raccoons, bobcats, red fox, gray fox, coyotes, and of course, the "fierce" snapping turtle (pictured.) Keep an eye out for majestic bald eagles near the Mississippi River.

Anglers, bring your rods to try your luck at catching smallmouth bass, northern pike, or walleye.

Tips graphic

Paddle & Pedal

Kayak bow with feet and bluffs

Chilling on the Cannon River. PHOTO: Rachel Reser

Floating down river on a sunny summer day can be relaxing and fun. Not so much when you need to turn around. Many new kayakers ask, "How do you get back?" Leave a second car (or your bikes!) at the destination or hail a ride.
Pro tip: Don't go alone. Not only is it more fun to go in pairs, but it's safer.

Day Trip Ideas

Faribault-Dundas (12 miles): Start at Two Rivers Park and exit at Mill Park. Enjoy the tranquility of a paddle through Cannon River Trout Lily Scientific Natural Area (SNA) and the Cannon River Wilderness County Park. Highlights? Towering trees, bluffs and sandy beaches. Look for the ruins of Archibald Mill in Dundas.

Cannon Falls-Welch (12 miles) or Meisville Ravine Co. Park (7 miles): Launch from Riverside Park carry-in access. Return to Cannon Falls on your bike via the Cannon Valley Trail.   

Click here for more itinerary ideas, including overnight trips.

Kayaker by bluff

Kayaking by the Cannon River bluffs. PHOTO: Rachel Reser

Safety Header

Paddling on Streams and Rivers

  1. Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket at all times.
  2. Bring a map. Water trail maps are available to use on the Avenza app or can be downloaded.
  3. Tell someone your trip plans
  4. Check water levels before you go: Water that is too high or too low can be dangerous.
  5. Scan ahead for hazards like overhanging trees, rocks, low bridges or rapids. When in doubt, get out and scout!  Be ready to portage, if needed.

These are only a few safety recommendations. A more comprehensive list can be found on our website. Read up and learn from more seasoned paddlers before venturing out.

Mom helping son with life jacket

How-to icon

NEW! 120-Day Reservation Window

Man and woman cheering with camp mugs

Back to camp! We raise our mugs to that

Beginning July 1, DNR is shortening its window for camping and lodging reservations to 120 days, or four months. The new reservation policies increase fairness and equity for park visitors. Many busy families do not have the flexibility to plan a year in advance. Shortening the reservation window will offer more opportunities for reserving campsites and meet everyone's needs.

Out and about icon

The faces and stories of our visitors and staff.

Girl standing near tree in blossom

Freya Finn

Hometown:  Onalaska, Wisconsin

Favorite Outdoor Activity: Aside from hiking, I enjoy four square, Gaga Ball, football, and badminton.  

Fuel for the Trail: Oranges, Swedish Fish, water, and chocolate.

Claim to Fame: Third Place winner in the 2020 Matt Hessel-Mial Writing Contest.  

"Writing haiku is hard for me, but after I went to Whitewater State Park it was easy to write down what I felt. The reason I hike is because I live in a very small house.  It is sometimes hard to find peace inside, so I hike. "



The moss, leaves, rocks, cold water
Come out, while we climb

The clear water, cold
Dark mystery welcomes us
As we walk on stone

Crystals in the rock
Crumble, melt, as we touch them
Gifts from our journey

Flower white as snow
Center yellow as an egg
Put in braided hair

Trees, large, small, living
We breath for them, them for us
Bark, sap, knowledge, trees

Water, here and gone
Invisible rivers run
Over rocks to us

~Freya Finn

From the MCV Archives

Paddleboarding for Beginners

family with paddleboards

At the Osceola Landing, ready for adventure

Slow and shallow, wide and uncrowded, the 8.8-mile stretch of the St. Croix River from Osceola, Wisconsin to William O'Brien State Park is the ideal training ground for the novice stand-up paddleboarder. Full story.

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer is a print magazine dedicated to Minnesota’s wild places and creatures. For more stories, visit mnDNR.gov/MCV or subscribe.

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer

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