Big Rock Creek celebrates the nostalgia of winters gone by.
Winters in the Midwest are built on tradition, and in the St. Croix Valley, one family has created a holiday experience that can stir up nostalgia for generations to come.
Big Rock Creek is an ever-evolving 1,000 acre property in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. Though it draws visitors year-round for old fashioned family fun in nature, the true magic comes when the snow falls and Miracle at Big Rock begins. “The property is what creates the experience and that joyful feeling when people come here,” says co-owner Josh Hansen. “People tell us it’s like stepping into a Hallmark movie.”
Building on Tradition
Hansen came across the property while looking for hunting land. The sprawling land was owned by the Siems family for 100 years and, before that, enjoyed as a trout hatchery and the home of the Big Rock Creek Trout Club (founded in 1886).
Though Hansen and his family (parents, Brad and Teresa, and siblings, Justin, Jeremy and Becky) fell in love with the acreage immediately, they weren’t able to purchase it until 2018, when the land was parceled and the Johnson family joined as co-owners. “I think we all knew we had a property that is so unique and so special that the public needed to experience it,” co-owner Troy Johnson says. “It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that holds a history that [locals] knew about.”
The acreage features three cabins, a historic barn, a clubhouse, a boathouse and a caretaker’s cabin. The land holds trout ponds, a lake, a thriving forest and 22 miles of trails. And that’s just the beginning of what’s to come. “For us, the work is fun, too. That’s why we bought the property,” Hansen says.
A Home for the Holidays
All of nature may call Big Rock Creek home but, in the wintertime, its resident Highland cows, Maggie, Biscuit and Gravy, don festive holiday wear with strands of lights to celebrate the season, welcoming young and old alike to experience a holiday festival of more than 10 million twinkles.
In 2021, Miracle at Big Rock celebrated its first year, inviting the public to make their own memories on the historic grounds. From Black Friday (November 24 this year) to December 31, visitors can explore the vast property on a mile-long light tour. Guests can drive the trail Mondays and Tuesdays or spend a wintery evening walking the trail throughout the rest of the week. Plan to spend three to four hours, Hansen says, because the light festival is just part of this holiday miracle.
“It’s really a chance for guests to come out, put the cell phone away and watch their kids have fun like I did when I was a kid, playing in the snow, sledding, drinking hot chocolate,” Hansen says. “It’s an iconic time of year.”
Explorations include a visit to the indoor holiday market, featuring local artists and vendors in the property’s big barn, warming up by the fire pits along the trail or listening to live acoustic music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. There are horse-drawn sleigh rides with ringing sleigh bells, a fireworks display every Friday, reindeer visits on Thursdays and Sundays and visits with Santa.
“It’s one of the most unique and historic experiences you will see,” Johnson says. “You can come back 20 times and not see and experience all of its wonders.”
Guests can drive the one mile-long trail Mondays and Tuesdays or walk the trail throughout the rest of the week.