Minnesota rivers are almost as famous as our Minnesota lakes.
There are 10,000 acknowledged lakes in Minnesota and over 8,000 "public and fishable" rivers.
Paddle Minnesota rivers on a river rafting trip. Enjoy a drive along the Great River Road that follows the Mississippi River from Itasca state park to the Iowa border. Learn about our Wild and Scenic Rivers and where to do some extreme kayaking.
The Great River Road in Minnesota follows the Mississippi from its birth place at Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park all the way to the Iowa border.
Map of Mississippi River as it flows from its birthplace to the ocean.
The Saint Croix River Valley is just a short drive from the Twin Cities. It has been designated as a "National Wild and Scenic River" by the government. This wild river area and the scenic small towns, and four state parks, nearby are perfect destinations for enjoying some of the best of Minnesota.
Minnesota state parks in these areas are:
Visit the lovely river town of Stillwater.
Hastings MN is at the confluence of the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers. You can visit Minnesota's first winery, Alexis Bailley Vineyard.
Visit in autumn and explore one of our favorite Minnesota food destinations at nearby apple orchards.
The Minnesota State Wild & Scenic Rivers Program was established in 1973 to protect rivers which have outstanding natural, scenic, geographic, historic, cultural, and recreational values. Six rivers in Minnesota have segments which are designated as wild, scenic, or recreational under the state program.
The Minnesota Wild and Scenic Rivers Program assists communities in developing management plans that protect the scenic, recreational, natural, historical, and cultural values for which the rivers were originally designated. Six rivers in Minnesota have been designated as state wild and scenic Minnesota rivers.
These six rivers are:
Mississippi River (from St. Cloud to Anoka) -
Kettle River (in Pine County) - Get an amazing view from the Kettle River Overlook at the top of a 50 foot cliff.
Rum River (in Mille Lacs, Sherburne, Isanti & Anoka Counties)
North Fork - Crow River (in Meeker County
Minnesota River (from Lac Qui Parle dam to Franklin)
Cannon River (from Faribault to the Mississippi River) - Paddle this river from Fairbault to Northfield in about six to eight hours.
Federally-designated Wild & Scenic Rivers Program includes two Minnesota rivers.
In addition, the St. Croix River in Minnesota and Wisconsin is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Program, created in 1968.
You may be interested in knowing which rivers in Minnesota are the longest. Here is the list:
1 Mississippi River 681.3 miles - From Itasca State Park the Mississippi flows through many towns in Minnesota and is a popular attraction in the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. In St. Paul you can learn about this great river at the Mississippi River Museum. This "greatest of rivers" has many tributaries that are favorites of canoeists, fishing enthusiasts, and nature lovers. The Root, Zumbgo, and Whitewater rivers are some of the most popular. The Root River Trail is one of the state's most popular Minnesota bike trails. As you bike this route, you will pass through lovely Lanesboro and Amish Country near Harmony. While you are in this area, you can visit Forestville Mystery Cave State Park.
2 Red River 457.1 miles - Also called "The Red River of The North" flows through the Red River Valley from south to north in Minnesota and North Dakota. Enjoy canoeing the Red River on a visit to Moorhead and in Red River State Park.
3 Minnesota River 370.6 miles - The Minnesota River flows across the bottom of the state and joins the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities.
4 Rainy River 292.1 - The Rainy River forms part of the Canada–United States border separating northern Minnesota and Northwestern Ontario.
5 Red Lake River 252.8 - One of the best canoeing and kayaking rivers in Northern Minnesota.
6 Bigfork River 220.7 - The Big Fork River flows north to the Rainy River. It's offers excellent fishing for walleye, northern pike and muskie.
8 Otter Tail River 195.7 - Drive the Otter Tail Scenic Byway through some of our states most scenic small towns and iconic roadside attractions.
9 North Fork Crow River 178.3 - From southeastern Pope County, the North Fork of the Crow River flows southeast until it joins the Mississippi River at Dayton.
10 Wild Rice River 173.5 - begins at Mud Lake in Clearwater County and flows largely to the west through Norman and Mahnomen counties. It eventuallyconverges with the Red River of the North.