Approximately 6,000 years ago, when Sumerian scholars were devising some of mankind's first mathematic systems, a mile-thick sheet of ice began to melt half a world away in the region known today as Minnesota. Slowly, the glacier shrank and poured gallons of water into the land around it, leaving behind gorgeous rock formations dotted with artistic ridges and eye-catching striations. Perhaps most notable of these formations is a structure that resembles a cross, which inspired settlers to name its surrounding river St. Croix, or "holy cross."
Today, modern humans can catch a glimpse of these awesome sights thanks to Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours. The company's two paddlewheel boats—the 250-seater Princess and the 149-seater The Queen —feature enclosed lower levels and open-air upper decks, allowing for an unobstructed view of not only the stone cross, but also the formations known as Lion's Head, Turk's Head, and The Old Man of the Dalles, so named for its resemblance to a man's weathered face and its likelihood to repeat old stories about the Cretaceous Period. A licensed boat pilot acts as tour guide, directing guests' attention to each instance of natural beauty on a variety of tours, which range from 80-minute daytime excursions to two-hour dinner cruises replete with a gourmet meal and live entertainment.