Interstate State Park is a prime rock-climbing destination within an hour’s drive of the Twin Cities and not too far from Eau Claire. Many an upper Midwesterner (and travelers from beyond) has learned the sport at this heralded destination. So whether you're nurturing your kid’s interest in the outdoors, moving from the climbing gym to outdoor routes or a seasoned climber with aspirations of conquering the Front Range, the St. Croix Falls area beckons as the ultimate rock climbing getaway.
Rock Climbing Galore at Interstate Park
Unfamiliar with the region, one might be surprised to learn of the abundant climbing routes within Wisconsin's Interstate State Park. The park contains well over 100 established routes, with a similar number on the Taylor Falls side of the river. This remarkable concentration owes its existence to the river's dramatic gorge, known as the Dalles of the St. Croix River. A wide range of low intensity shorter climbs and challenging longer routes make it a popular climbing destination for locals and travelers alike.
The majority of the region’s routes fall within two styles: bouldering and roped climbing. With less equipment necessary for bouldering, it’s easy to grab your climbing shoes, helmet, chalk, crash pad and good company and head out for an adventure. Within the spectacular scenery of Interstate Park, the endeavor is as meditative as it is whimsical.
The journey begins as you and your companions gather around, route description in hand, studying its cryptic instructions while deciphering the contours of the rock face. Inevitably, someone takes the initial leap, experimenting with moves that often lead down the path of typically humorous wrong turns. Yet amidst the amusement and shared determination, one of you unlocks the puzzle, conquering the route to the exhilaration of all.
The Pothole Trail loop itself offers a trove of bouldering opportunities, enough to fill an entire day's worth of climbing. Meanwhile, numerous other bouldering zones are scattered throughout the park, creating a treasure hunt for you and your crew.
The cliffy expanse of the Wisconsin Strip in the park's northern reaches offers an impressive array of longer routes for roped climbing. These routes are often top roped, with a skilled, experienced climber building an anchor at the top.
Get mentoring from your more experienced colleagues or better yet, take an outdoor climbing course with one of the many local guides in the area like Midwest Mountain Guides. Continue your journey to the southern portion of the park where the Sentinel Area has a collection of more advanced roped climbs. Bring a picnic to share with friends and if the weather’s warm enough you can jump in Lake O' the Dalles after a long day of adventuring.
Beyond Rock Climbing: Canopy Tours and Ziplining at Adventure Parks
Rock climbing isn’t the only way to get up in the air in St. Croix Falls—there are enough canopy tours and ziplines for everyone in your group to have an aerial excursion. Nearby Trollhaugen Adventure Park caters to a wide spectrum of participants, ensuring that each person's comfort and expertise are accounted for. Similar to its ski resort's diverse runs, the warm weather adventure course encompasses a spectrum of difficulty levels, accommodating everyone from beginners and children to the more daring, depending on height and the level of challenge desired.
Each course boasts a variety of exhilarating elements, encompassing swinging bridges, tree climbing and feats of balance. A crowning feature of the park is the Zip Line Tour, a culmination of the day's adventures featuring a series of six lines and an exhilarating 1000-foot dueling zip line for fun competition between friends and family.
Whether you’d rather go rock climbing or enjoy a more guided adventure park together, you and your group are sure to have an exciting time in St. Croix Falls.
Looking for more thrills? Discover more fast-paced fun at these adventure resorts in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.