Cruise Lake Itasca, Between Park Rapids & Bemidji
One of the best views of fall color is from a north woods lake, with the brilliant hues reflected in the waters. And one of the best waters for this experience is Lake Itasca, source of the Mississippi River, in Itasca State Park. The Mississippi Headwaters is one of the must-see destinations in Minnesota, drawing visitors from around the world. There are several ways to get out on the scenic lake where this legendary river begins.
The Chester Charles II excursion boat offers two-hour naturalist narrated tours of the lakes, with information on the discovery of the Mississippi River and on the area's wildlife. The boat departs from near Douglas Lodge, and the 10-mile route gives passengers a view of the Mississippi as it begins its long trip as a small stream flowing from Lake Itasca.
The excursions are available daily through Labor Day, then Thursdays-Sundays at 1 p.m. through Sept. 19, and Fridays-Sundays at 1 p.m. through Oct. 3. The trips are $14 for adults and $8 for children. For information on the trips, go to www.lakeitascatours.com.
Another concessionaire in the park rents canoes, single and double kayaks, row boats, boats and motors, and pontoons from the boat access on Lake Itasca. Rent by the hour or the day and explore the lake on your own. Rentals are available daily through mid-October, depending on the weather. Prices start at $5 per hour for canoes and go up to $35 per hour for pontoons. For information, see www.itascasports.com.
Lake Itasca State Park also has interpretive centers, miles of hiking trails, a campground and several lodging options, and a restaurant at Douglas Lodge.
More info: www.mndnr.gov/parks