My Modern Midwest: Winter Up North

Emily Falkenberg spends a lot of time outdoors – canoeing, kayaking and hiking. She lives near Stillwater with her husband and four children, and makes it a point to go out every day. When she picked up a smartphone a few years ago, she began documenting her adventures in the Saint Croix River Valley and beyond.

To Emily, each season offers its own photographic wonders, but winter is especially stunning. “The bare trees give way to different perspectives along the riverbanks and the white snow is so serene,” she says. “The frozen water surface makes for easy access to special areas to hike and explore.”

For My Modern Midwest, Emily captured some of her favorite places along the Saint Croix River as winter began to settle on the valley.


Taylor’s Falls, MN

A view of the Wisconsin bank at the Dalles of the St. Croix River from Interstate State Park in Taylor’s Falls, MN.  My idea of the perfect destination for a day trip during any season. The views of the forest-rich bluffs and high cliffs are breathtaking and serene in winter.

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Osceola, WI

A snapshot of the beautiful Cascade Falls in winter.  Nestled right downtown, the falls flow from Cascade Creek and into the St. Croix River, in the charming village of Osceola, WI.

Stillwater, MN

Trees on the Riverbank at the Boom Site. A shot of the snow covering the sand at this National Historic Landmark just upstream from the city of Stillwater.

One of my absolute favorite spots along the river.  Great place to walk the beach, watch wildlife and explore the caves. This spot also has breathtaking light at sunset.

Stillwater, MN

Sunset on the St. Croix River after the first snowfall this year.

Stillwater, MN

There are many islands along this wide, broad and slow area of the St. Croix River south of Marine on St. Croix, MN.  In the warmer months they are perfect resting spots for boaters, kayakers and canoeists.

During the winter season they are just as beautiful.  The bare trees make way for stunning views of the sandstone bluffs on either side of the river.

Bayport, MN

Bare Trees on the beach during a mild, foggy December day this year.   Winter is creeping in slowly. This shot was taken on a 48 degree day.  (Unseasonably warm for Minnesota.) Yet true to Minnesota form, there were people ice fishing on the river here just offshore from Lakeside Park.

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Hudson, WI

Where the Willow River flows into the St. Croix, the open water is the place for hundreds of ducks, geese and trumpeter swans to spend the winter.

Hudson, WI

A shot of the winter waterfowl.  A beautiful and tremendous sight to see during these cold days.

Hudson, WI

Trumpeter swans on the magnificent St. Croix River early December, 2014.

Afton, MN

The drive through the river valley is gorgeous in all four seasons.  After a light snowfall, the trees and bluffs are blanketed in crisp, clean white.  Along the St. Croix Scenic Byway, even the ditches look beautiful.