Mississippi River Facts



Search The
Visit Minnesota Website



Mississippi river facts, stories, songs, and recreational opportunities abound here in the state that is the source of the mighty Mississippi River. 

You can experience the Mississippi River in Minnesota in some of the same ways as did Mark Twain and Henry David Thoreau when they explored the river by steamboat.

"The Mississippi, the Ganges, and the Nile,... the Rocky Mountains, the Himalaya, and Mountains of the Moon, have a kind of personal importance in the annals of the world." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Fun Mississippi River Facts:

  • At its headwaters, the Mississippi River is less than 3 feet deep.
  • At the Mississippi river's deepest section, between Governor Nicholls Wharf and Algiers Point in New Orleans, it is 200 feet deep!

Choose a vacation rental in a specific area or get ideas about some of the best Minnesota vacation destinations before you decide. Take a look at some of these fantastic properties and locations for your group of any size.Travel in style. For less than a hotel.

Minnesota Tourism Reviews: find the best Minnesota deals, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say about the places to go and things to do in Minnesota...or anywhere in the world you travel.

Mississippi River Facts

The Mississippi River source, or headwaters, is Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park.

A Minnesota tradition is to walk across the Mississippi river on the stone path at the headwaters.

In one spot, in our neighboring state of Wisconsin, the Mississippi River is almost 4 miles wide. This is at Lake Onalaska, near LaCrosse, where Mississippi River water is held behind Lock and Dam #7 and the damming of the Black River forms this broad span of the Mississippi River.

The history of Minnesota is deeply intertwined with the legends and lore of the Mississippi River.


Some Basic Mississippi River Facts:

Your Great River Road Trip in Minnesota begins at the Mississippi River Headwaters.

  • The Mississippi River flows south from Lake Itasca, in Northern Minnesota, to the Gulf of Mexico, in Louisiana.
  • The Mississippi River, at 740 miles in length, is the third longest river in North America.
  • The Mississippi River is a watershed for over 1.2 million square miles.
  • The Mighty Mississippi incorporates tributary rivers from 32 states and two Canadian provinces.
  • The Mississippi and its tributaries drain almost all the plains between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. Its drainage basin is the third largest in the world, exceeded in size only by the watersheds of the Amazon and Congo Rivers.
  • The Mississippi River was discovered by De Soto in 1541.

If you want a map of Mississippi River areas there are many available including beautiful, historic, Mississippi River maps suitable for framing.  

Explore the Mississippi River: Road Trip USA Great River Road

Many Mississippi River Facts are also Minnesota Facts:

Here are just a few:

  • Bemidji, the first city on the Mississippi River is located in the state of Minnesota, 100 miles south of the Canadian border.
  • The Ojibwe people of Northern Minnesota called it ''Messipi'' or The Big River. It was also known as the Mee-zee-see-bee or Father of Waters.
  • At Lake Itasca, the elevation of the Mississippi River is 1,475 feet above sea level. It drops to sea level at the Gulf of Mexico. More than half of that drop occurs within the state of Minnesota.
  • Water skiing was invented in 1922 on the Mississippi River in a wide part of the river known as Lake Pepin, between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Mississippi River Recreation

Opportunities to enjoy the wonderful resources of the Mississippi River abound in Minnesota.

As well as visiting the Mississippi Headwaters in Itasca State Park you can visit the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

In 1988, seventy-two miles of the Mississippi River, from the cities of Dayton and Ramsey (north of the Twin Cities) to near Hastings (south of the Twin Cities) were designated as a place to explore the river.  The Mississippi River is just one of Minnesota's Water Trails that offer thousands of miles of canoe and kayak routes through the state.

See the Mississippi River up close on Mississippi River Boat Cruises that depart from Saint Paul, Minneapolis and several other locations in Minnesota.

Reviews of the Best Things to See and Do in Minnesota

The Mississippi winds through the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The southern portion of the Mississippi flows past the charming river towns of Red Wing, Lake City, Wabasha, and Winona. 

The Mississippi River Museum located at the Science Museum of Minnesota in Saint Paul encourages visitors to think about how their actions impact the river. Learn some Mississippi River facts about the influence the river has on our lives, and the river ecosystem that is complex and ever-changing. Learn more about the Mississippi River Gallery with this fact sheet.

While you are at the Science Museum, you will find the  Mississippi River Visitor Center located directly across the Science Museum lobby. The Center invites visitors to explore Mississippi River resources that may be close as their own backyard.

Mississippi River Cleanup

One of the most troubling of Mississippi River facts is that, from its source at Lake Itasca to where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico, this amazing river has become increasingly polluted. All types of garbage and refuse, including old tires and scrap metal,  is dumped into this national resource.

In recent years many river cleanup groups have been organized. No matter where you live along the river, you can volunteer to help keep our river clean with the Great Mississippi River Cleanup. Here is their mission statement:

In 2010, the Great Mississippi River Cleanup (GMRC) was initiated by Living Lands & Waters (LL&W) to inspire communities to host an annual cleanup event. After four very successful years cleaning up primarily the Upper Mississippi River, we expanded our cleanup efforts to the full length of the river! From the Headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana, volunteers participate by cleaning up the Mighty Mississippi and taking action that produces results, not rhetoric! To date, we’ve worked with 105 sites and, with the help of more than 8,000 volunteers, removed 513,782 lbs of debris from Mississippi River.

Copy and paste the link below into your browser to find a Mississippi River cleanup organization near you.

http://livinglandsandwaters.org/volunteer/community-cleanups/great-mississippi-river-cleanup

Mississippi River Guides


Explore the Great River Road established in 1938 as the national parkway of the Mississippi River. Its route traverses nearly 3,000 miles through 10 states. Read more about the Great River Road in Road Trip USA Great River Road

Mississippi River Facts Related Pages:

Mississippi River Boat Cruises

Map of Mississippi River

Minnesota Water Trails

Lake Superior Facts

Fishing Minnesota

Minnesota Adventures

Mississippi River

One of Our Favorite Minnesota Books




FTC Disclosure: If you make a purchase via a link on this page, I may earn a small commission on the transaction - at no added cost to you. Thank you!

Today's Best Travel Deals

Extra 75% Off Select Hotels with Expedia App Coupon



Find the Best Minnesota Travel Deals at Booking Buddy!

Great Prices on Minnesota Hotels at Hotels.Com

Vacation Rentals under $50 a night

Minnesota Bed & Breakfast Inns - Choose a romantic, cozy B & B anywhere in Minnesota you want to be. .

Hotels.com: Save big NOW on all hotel bookings with Up to a $100 Cash Back Rebate with code REBATES18! Book by 12/31/18, Travel by 3/31/19.



Plan Your Minnesota Vacation

Things to Do in Minnesota


Minnesota Vacation Rentals  -  A vacation rental will give you the feel of your own cabin or chalet in Minnesota. Choose a vacation rental in a specific area or get ideas about some of the best Minnesota vacation destinations before you decide. There are  fantastic rental properties and amazing locations that will be perfect for your group of any size.


Minnesota Maps

Lake Superior Maps

Boundary Waters Maps

 

Only in Minnesota

Minnesota Nice: Adult Coloring Book Full of Minnesota Love

Minnesota Travel Books

Minnesota Visitor Site Map

About Me

Contact Us

Minnesota Visitor Home Page

Information

For personalized travel information call 888-VISITMN (847-4866)

Minnesota Department of Natural resources 888-646-6367

Minnesota Historical Society 888-777-8386

Judith Ramsey - Publisher
Copyright © 2005 ~ 2018
All Rights Reserved

Amazon Associates Disclosure
 - We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


Minnesota State Parks: From Afton to Zippel Bay

Advertise On Visit Minnesota