Wrapping up summer at Wild River State Park

With school starting soon, Wild River State Park is hoping folks can make it out for the big finale’ of summer activities and Autumn Harvest Day on Sept. 1.

Explore the prairie where the grasses are a radiant red and speckled with sunflowers, hyssop, leadplant, clovers and blazing star.

Birders are enjoying the early fall migrants that are passing through, and the forest is bustling with critters caching up for winter.

Discover the state park in a new light by visiting the Visitor Center where folks can check out a GPS unit, Kids Discovery backpack, bird kit or fishing pole; meet snakes or a softshell turtle; or catch a glimpse of the St. Croix Story during a 20-minute video.

The Visitor Center is open Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Autumn Harvest Day

Celebrate fall and the annual kick-off to seed harvesting of the native prairies — icons for community-based restoration projects — at Autum Harvest Day on Saturday, Sept. 1. Explore the abundance of prairie wildlife, as created by volunteers and visitors. And check out these activities:

The Annual Stripping of the Seed, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (ongoing) at the Trail Center. Grab a bucket and head deep into the 6-foot tall prairie in search of ripe seeds. This is a neat way for all ages to plant their legacy at the park. Can’t make it that day? Pick your bucket up at the Visitor Center anytime this weekend!

Colors of Fall! Prairie Art, 2:30-4 p.m. (ongoing) at the Visitor Center.

Music of the Harvest with Craig Willis, 7-8 p.m. at the Amphitheater. From Peoria, Ill., singer, songwriter and musician Craig Willis will be performing live for the second time at Wild River State Park to conclude the annual Autumn Harvest Day. His enthusiasm and passion for music is contagious, and this relaxing evening around a warm campfire is sure to be enjoyed by all.


Nature programs

Thursday, Aug. 30

Prairie seed collecting, noon-1 p.m. at the Trail Center. Dive into the 6-foot big blue stem and become surrounded by the cool things hiding in the prairie at this time of year. While keeping our eyes open for snakes and other critters, we’ll learn the importance of prairie habitats and collect seed that will be used to plant other prairies around Wild River State Park. Sturdy shoes are recommended.

Friday, Aug. 31

Sidewalk Stop! Wild Cats and Dogs, noon-2 p.m. at the Visitor Center. Bobcat or mountain lion? Wolf or coyote? Do we have any of these at Wild River State Park? Stop by to get your cats and dogs straight while learning fact from fiction and the latest news on these wild carnivores of Minnesota.

Tall Tales and Sing-along Songs Campfire, 7-8 p.m. at the Amphitheater. A campfire isn’t complete without tall tales and singalongs. Join the naturalist for a fun-filled evening of laughter and storytelling for all ages. Find out how the bear lost its tail and who was victorious in the battle of the pickle and the dragon. Never yodeled before? No singing experience necessary.

Sunday, Sept. 2

Snakes Alive, 11 a.m.-noon at the Visitor Center. Are snakes slithery, sneaky and slimy? Or are they cool, quiet and cautious? Learn about the snakes found in this park and get an up-close look (and feel) at our live resident garter and bull snakes. We will even feed the snakes in front of your eyes at the end of the program.

Junior Naturalists: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, 2-3 p.m. at the Sky Observation Area (by the Amphitheater). Discover the makings of a food web, the importance of even the biting-est mosquitoes and itchy-est of plants. We’ll travel the life of critters throughout Wild River State Park and play a game to see who might be here today, but gone tomorrow.

Whooo’s Calling? Campfire, 7-8 p.m. at the Amphitheater. You may not see them, but you can hear them! Wild River State Park is home to three main species of owls and you’re sure to hear at least one. Join us as we explore the life of these Minnesota raptors and their unique characteristics around a warm campfire. Marshmallows provided to all owl callers.

Monday, Sept. 3

A Hike Back in Time, 10 – 11 a.m. at the Visitor Center. Wrap up the busy weekend with a leisurely hike around Amik’s Pond (1 mile) with the naturalist. We’ll go to the ice age and back as we explore the rich river highway of fur trade, logging and settling in the St. Croix River Valley.

Find more activities and information at www.mndnr.gov/wildriver or by calling 651-583-2125.

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