The mission of Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center is fostering a lifelong appreciation of the natural world through environmental education, habitat conservation and outdoor experiences.


It is our aspiration that nature is honored and valued by people of all generations.


Through the pursuit of our mission and vision, we uphold the following values:

  • Providing premier science- and nature-based education
  • Proactively protecting habitat and pursuing excellence in land stewardship
  • Serving all ages, abilities and backgrounds with experiences for all seasons
  • Leading and partnering collaboratively
  • Connecting environmental and human health
  • Honoring history and legacy of the land and the St. Croix Valley


Nestled at the confluence of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers near Hastings, and located only thirty minutes from the metro, Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center provides a unique opportunity to learn and explore the outdoors. With property on both the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides of the scenic St. Croix River, we are able to preserve wildlife habitat while also providing educational experiences for community families. And as always, ADMISSION IS COMPLETELY FREE in order to insure that people of all economic backgrounds can connect to nature.

Hiking trails wind throughout the tall pines, oak savanna, restored prairies, wooded ravines, around the apple orchard, and along the river of the 425-acre Minnesota Campus. Our visitor center features world-class exhibits with live animals on display and raptor mews featuring a Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Red-tailed Hawk and Great Horned Owl. With more than 10 miles of hiking trails, three-and-a-half of which are paved to accommodate persons with mobility limitations, you will see a vast variety of plant and animal communities.

Wildlife abounds in the restored prairie and wooded bluffs on our 300-acre Wisconsin Nature Preserve. What this campus lacks amenities, it makes up for in spectacular views and the serenity of being away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Although it is only a few short minutes south of Hudson, our campus is an oasis for bird watching and hiking.

Carpenter Nature Center plays a vital role in the hands-on education of 7,000 to 10,000 K-12 students and 17,000 to 20,000 visitors annually. The diverse ecosystems found on 725 acres of protected habitat minutes from a major metropolitan area make Carpenter a destination for teachers and families alike. Carpenter Nature Center shows students the importance of working in harmony with the natural world and gives them the science skills and experiences they need to begin to understand and solve our future global environmental problems.

As a 501(c)(3) private, non-profit organization that provides services to the public admission is free, we rely heavily on donations from our generous supporters. The financial support of our donors is what allows us to educate families and conserve wildlife and habitat. Please consider membership. We need your help to achieve our mission!


Once the private estate of Thomas E. and Edna D. Carpenter, and formerly called Carpenter’s Apple Valley Orchard, Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center opened in 1981, and has served more than half a million visitors, provided more than 10,000 environmental education programs, trained hundreds of interns and protected more than 725 acres of natural habitat in the St. Croix Valley. Click through the slideshow below to learn more!