Established in 1891, Itasca is the oldest Minnesota State park. In its vast pine forests, the Mighty Mississippi begins its long journey to the gulf of Mexico. Here, at the Mississippi source, the water is transparent and beautiful, flowing over rocks into what looks more like a little stream than a great river. Canoe, camp, bike and hike, following in the footsteps ofAmerican Indians, fur traders, and explorers.
Bemidji State Park
One of several places along the Mississippi where the river and a lake are as one. The park is located on the north end of the lake and offers boat tours of the lake and the river, focusing on ecology and local history, plus general programs on natural or cultural history and recreation and special interest programs in bog or aquatic biology, animal behavior, birds and weather.
Sometimes called Little Itasca, this beautiful park has its own giant pine forest.The Mississippi is a little wider as it flows through the park and visitors find it a much quieter spot than the busy headwaters.
Wing State Park
Situated at the confluence of the Crow Wing and the Mississippi Rivers, this area was important to the Ojibway and Dakota tribes and later to the fur traders and loggers. Now it is a serene, beautiful forested area with a variety of wildlife, lovely hiking trails and a self-guided interpretative trail. Saturday evening naturalist programs are available.
A. Lindbergh House
Most people know Charles Lindbergh as the quiet young aviator who completed the first solo flight across the Atlantic. He also had a deep commitment to the environment,which was spawned while he was a boy spending his summers in this cottage on the Mississippi River.
A complete working farm situated along the Mississippi, with 189 acres of fields, nature trails and restored prairies. This is a living history program, centered on agriculture in Minnesota during the Civil War era, where visitors may assist costumed interpreters in gardening, farming and domestic activities. Open May through October; activities and special events vary throughout the season. Admission fee.
This facility offers visitors a variety of experiences, from exhibits about theriver's habitats and creatures to live exhibits of river animals. Weekend programs by interpretative naturalists enhance your enjoyment and understanding of the river, while hiking trails offer opportunities to explore the 140-acres of fields, wetland areas and an especially good example of floodplain forest. More information and trail maps are available at the Visitor Center.
This center offers numerous environmental education programs for the public year round. A 29-acre trout lake managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is stocked annually. A scenic bike/hike trail enters the park on the south and connects to the Hennepin and Coon Rapids trails near the dam.
Falls Historic District
Take a walk through history, when Minneapolis could boast of being the largest milling district in the world. Explore the only falls on the Mississippi River, the restored Stone Arch Bridge and other landmarks of the era on a guided walking tour. One and two hour tours Saturday and Sunday; one-hour tours on Wednesdays through Fridays. Tour fee.
Built in 1850, the Stevens House is the first permanent settler's home on the west bank of the Mississippi in Minneapolis. As the home of Colonel John H. Stevens and his family, the house served as the social and civic hub of the new city. In 1896, 7,000 children participated in relays, pulling the from its original riverbank location to the Minnehaha Park. Restored to its original structural appearance, the Stevens House is open to the public as an interpretive history center. Admission fee.
Built on a commanding bluff above the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, the fort is a living museum that accurately depicts the lives of the men, women, and children of the 5th Regiment of Infantry on the 1820's frontier. Visitors watch real infantry drills, artillery firing, authentic cooking, trades and domestic crafts demonstrations. Open daily May-October. Admission fee.
Snelling State Park
Built in 1821, Fort Snelling was strategically located at the confluence of two great rivers, the Minnesota and the Mississippi, and offers a rich historical and cultural legacy, especially to Native Americans. The park landscape is the product of two major geological processes, glacial deposition and meltwater erosion and the forested river bottoms, marshes and wet meadows support a variety of wildlife. A naturalist conducts year round programs that focus on he geology, wildlife, vegetation and water resources of the park.
Located at the juncture of the Minnesota and the Mississippi Rivers, the site consists of 5 of 13 buildings original to the Sioux Outfit of the American Fur Company. It includes Sibley House, the oldest private residence in Minnesota, built for Henry Hastings Sibley - fur trader, governor, militia commander, treaty negotiator, businessman and territorial delegate to Congress. Tours from May through October. Admission fee.
A beautiful setting for an afternoon's walk, run or roll. Trails (6.7 miles of which are disabled accessible) run along shady, wooded bottomlands next to the river, skirting the marshes of Crosby Lake and Upper Lake, and past a scenic picnic area. Open year round.
Science Museum of Minnesota
The Mississippi River program is scheduled to begin in the summer of 1996. Exhibits, laboratory activities, theater performances and demonstrations will continue to open periodically through June 1997. The program will highlight how watershed-based scientific inquiry provides insights into how to better manage our river. Exhibit admission fee.
Spring Lake Park Reserve
One of the most scenic rest stops along the Great River Road, the Spring Lake Park Reserve is a study of contrasts, from the majestic oak to woods to the highly rocky bluff tops, to the flood plain with its lush grasses and black walnut trees. Trails provide outstanding views of the Spring Lake section of the river, with elevations rising more than 100 feet above the Mississippi.
A beautiful park, with stunning vistas of Lake Pepin from its wooded slopes.Bald eagles may beseen nearly all year and the park is one of the best places in the UnitedStates to view migrating birds.
Named for George Merrick, famous steamboat cub pilot and historian of Mississippi riverboat traffic, this beautiful park is open all year long for hiking, with excellent trails, including a 3-mile winter trail. Bird watchers flock to the park to enjoy the annual migration of waterfowl and eagles along the Mississippi. There are weekend naturalist programs during the summer.
Established in 1936 as a refuge and breeding area for migratory birds and other wildlife, this unique inland wetland is isolated from the Trempealeau and Mississippi rivers. The isolation and protection makes it an ideal refuge for indigenous and migratory species.
This park contains a rich collection of geologic history, with its exposed rocks and bluffs , aquatic habitats, marshlands, upland fields, wooded slopes, cool valleys, and pristine prairies. The wealth of landscape and habitat supports a wide variety of large and small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Weekend naturalist programs are offered.
Effigy Mounds National Monument
These prehistoric Indian burial mounds along the high bluffs and lowlands of the Upper Mississippi River Valley are unique in North America. Only in these four midwestern states were these mounds built in the shapes of birds and other animals. The visitor center offers museum exhibits and an audiovisual presentation, plus trailside exhibits and markers, self-guided tours and scenic vistas along the 300-foot high bluff tops. Guided walks by park rangers from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Admission fee.
The Villa Louis estate, with all its original household furnishings, accessories, letters, photographs and documents, offers visitors an authentic look at Victorian life on the Upper Mississippi. The site includes other structures , including those that relate to the French-Canadian fur trade. Open May through October. Admission fee.
Situated on the highest bluff on the Mississippi River, this area was missed by the glaciers that flattened and molded so much of Iowa. Its hills and valleys offer great vistas, painted sandstone walls, large timbered tracts, spring-fed streams and prehistoric earthen effigy mounds sculpted by Native Americans in the shapes of animals to celebrate their oneness with Mother Earth. Excellent picnic area and hiking trails.
Situated at the junction of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers, this park takes its name from the Indian word for Home of the Warrior . The 2,674-acre park is adjacent to the Upper Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Refuge with its wealth of wildlife and stunning vistas. The park offers about 22 miles of scenic trails, including winter ski and snow shoeing trails. Weekend naturalist programs are offered during the summer.
This park is located in two separate tracts; the Nelson Unit is the immediate south edge of Bellevue, atop a 300-foot limestone bluff; the Dyas Unit is two miles further south. This park offers scenic views of the Mississippi, with timbered walking trails, a unique butterfly sanctuary and an enclosed nature center.
Beautifully situated near the confluence of the Mississippi and AppleRivers, the 2,500-acre park is rich in American Indian history. The deep limestone caves, intriguing rock formations and wooded ravines add to the grandeur of the unglaciated terrain and the challenge of the rugged 13-mile trail system.
The Putnum offers a spectacular view of the Mississippi and over 12,00 square feet of world-class exhibits. Visitors can learn about the natural history of the prairie and the rivers of the region, plus enjoy regional history, wildlife displays and extensive fossil and paleontology collections. Open year round Tuesday through Sunday. Admission fee.
An opportunity to experience the river as a great water highway, as towboats, barges, and recreational boats are brought through Mississippi River Lock and Dam 15. Free tours, exhibits and a theater available, with an on-staff park ranger to explain the transportation workings of the Upper Mississippi. Disabled accessible.
This site boarders the Rock River near the confluence with the Mississippi. It includes the Hauberg Indian Museum which interprets the cultures of the Sauk and Mesquakie tribes, and the Black Hawk Forest Nature Preserve, one of the least disturbed forests in Illinois. The museum, lodge and restrooms are disabled accessible. Museum admission fee.
for Global Environmental Education