The 2,320-mile long Mississippi River is legendary in our nation and well-known worldwide. Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (NRRA) covers 72 miles of the famous river’s course through Minnesota, from busy metropolitan sections in the Twin Cities to secluded stretches of water. Along this section it changes from its shallow headwaters to a powerful force at its confluence with the St. Croix River. Established in 1988, the National Park Service (NPS) owns only 35 acres of the 54,000 acres protected within the NRRA.
St. Anthony Falls, Minnehaha Falls, Coldwater Spring, Indian Mounds Park, Mississippi Gorge Regional Park
Near downtown Minneapolis is St. Anthony Falls, the only true waterfall on the Mississippi River’s entire length. The falls powered gristmills and sawmills on both banks that drove the settlement of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Opportunities for walking, biking, boating, fishing, cross-country skiing, and wildlife watching (especially at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge) abound along the river depending upon the season.
In winter, urban trails along the Mississippi River are very pretty under a layer of white snow, and it can be very quiet and peaceful.
We enjoyed Minnehaha Regional Park where we found the 53-foot tall waterfall celebrated in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha.
All roads paved, but there is no free parking available at the NPS visitor center located inside the lobby for the Science Museum of Minnesota.
There are no campgrounds managed by the National Park Service within the NRRA, however, there are many places to camp in the area.
Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway (Minnesota-Wisconsin)
Pipestone National Monument (Minnesota)
Explore More – What did the city of Minneapolis do to make sure Minnehaha Falls was flowing for President Lyndon B. Johnson’s visit during the 1964 drought?