Planning Your Trip
The St. Croix River offers an exciting, authentic wilderness experience. However, as an international boundary and a Canadian Heritage River System planning your trip is different then a normal wilderness excursion. Being remote offers risks and using international waters comes with strict border enforcement regulations. The SCIWC is proud to be a leave no trace supporting organization, and to minimize impacts on the waterway we encourage all recreational users to follow the guiding principles of leave no trace.
The SCIWC recommends that you leave a float plan of your trip with someone at home. Should you fail to return on time, someone will know and can trigger a search for you.
Pack it in, Pack it out
All facilities on the St. Croix are "pack it in, pack it out" - you will need to plan to take your garbage home with you. If you prepare properly for your trip, you can minimize the amount of waste you create.
plan your menu ahead of time. Bring only the food you are going to eat, and remove it from any unnecessary packaging. Make one-pot meals if you can. Plan Ahead and Prepare!
Leave the St. Croix cleaner than you found it. If you see garbage or litter, please take it with you.
Respect Other Users
Many people travel long distances to enjoy the wilderness of the St. Croix. In a 2014 survey, over 60% of respondents said they chose to come to the St. Croix because of the "wilderness" feeling - that they wouldn't hear or see many others on their journey. Please respect other users and keep human noise and visual disturbances to a minimum.
St. Croix Recreation Map
This recreation map was specially created by the SCIWC for users of the St. Croix watershed. It consists of three maps: East Grand/Spednic Lake, the upper St. Croix River, and the lower St. Croix River/Passamoquody Bay. The map shows campsites, rapids, portages, dams and other features. It also provides handy information that may be useful while you're on the water or planning a trip. These maps are available in our offices or you can order a map online.
One Country Camping
Know before you go - Rules and Regulations. Before 2001, it was possible to camp on both sides of the river during your trip; however, tougher border regulations mean that you will need to stay on the shore of the country which you entered the river. In order to make one country camping easier, the SCIWC have created additional campsites that allow you to stay in either Canada or the US for the duration of your trip. You are also required to report to Canada and US Customs before and after your trip. You will need to call in or visit one of the marine reporting centres. Please contact the appropriate agency to report your trip. Please note there is limited to no cell phone coverage along the St. Croix; you will need to call before you arrive, or report in person.
Canada Border Services Agency (Marine reporting centres in St. Stephen and St. Andrews)
The Canada Customs Act requires pleasure boaters to report every time they exit and re-enter Canadian waters, regardless of whether you make landfall on the US shore. As the border is not marked, and it is not possible to call and report every time, we recommend you call at the beginning and the end of your journey, or you ask the CBSA agent what you should do.
US Customs and Border Protection (report at any US Customs office)
If you begin and end your trip in the US, you do not have to make multiple reports, provided you do not make landfall in Canada. You can also participate in the I-68 frequent boater program, which speeds up your reporting time. See the information at the link above for further details.
We strongly recommend you bring your passport (or a copy) and identification for everyone in your party and store it in a waterproof container. You should also familiarize yourself with border restrictions and goods regulations for both the US and Canada.
Over 10,000 people, on average, make their way down the St. Croix each year. In order to preserve the character and environment, campsites are limited. Reservations are strongly recommended during our operating season. If you are travelling during the off-season, sites are available on a first come, first serve basis. Visit our Reservations page to learn more.
Our water access campsites are free to use on a first come, first serve basis. All designated sites are clearly signed and camping outside of these designated sites is illegal in both Maine and NB. Please camp within designated areas and follow Leave No Trace principle #2 to minimize your impact.
Minimize the impact of fires. All designated campsites have an established fire pit or ring. Please do not move or alter the firepits, or have a fire outside of these established areas. Do not place materials such as cans or plastics in the fire. If it will not be burned completely to ash before you put your fire out, don't attempt to burn it. Always douse your fire with water before you sleep for the night and when you leave the site.
Please be aware of any fire restrictions that may be in place before you leave on your trip. If there is a fire ban in place, make sure you have a stove for cooking your meals.
Waterflow and Tides
There are six dams within the watershed and, below the Milltown Dam, the river becomes a tidal estuary. Water flow from the dams is managed but it does vary according to season and reservoir demands. We strongly recommend that you check water flow and tide table information before your trip. Generally, flows over 350 cfs mean the river is passable, but 500-600 cfs are preferable.
Keen to test your skills in the waters of our lakes and river? There are plenty of local outfitters and guides who are willing to help. As well, you'll find links below to information on licences in both New Brunswick and Maine.
Equipment Rentals and Supplies
Wondering what gear you might need? Here is an example checklist that might be a help in your planning.
In both Maine and NB there are outfitters and suppliers who can provide you with equipment or help you with any repairs that may arise.
The following outfitters rent equipment in the St. Croix region. (Note: please exercise due diligence and ask any outfitter about their liability, insurance, and safety policies.) If you are an outfitter or guide and would like to be listed here, please contact us.
Canoe the Wild (Weston, ME)
Canoose Outpost (Canoose, NB)
C&C Canoes (Vanceboro, ME)
Sunrise County Canoe & Kayak (Machias, ME)
Please contact our St. Croix office if you have any questions, or for information about a specific area. You can also check our Frequently Asked Questions section.