Established in 1947, William O’Brien was the first metro area state park. It’s eastern border runs along the St. Croix River, which is a migratory pathway for birds and important habitat for many mammals. The river offers canoeing and kayaking opportunities.
In the 1970s the park expanded westward into the grasslands and forests. Many miles of hiking and skiing trails and camping grounds lie here. The visitor center is named for one of the leaders of Parks & Trails Council, Samuel H. Morgan, who was instrumental in the expansion effort.
Prior to white colonial occupation, Dakota and Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) peoples called this area home. Furtraders used the river for transport in the 1600s, followed by lumberjacks in the mid-1800s. The park’s namesake comes from a lumber baron who owned the land prior to passing it on to his daughter, Alice. She donated the first 180 acres that formed the nucleus of the park.