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Mississippi River

Kayakers at Mississippi Gorge Regional Park in Minneapolis
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Kayakers at Mississippi Gorge Regional Park in Minneapolis / Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Minnesota's Great River

The second-longest river in the U.S. and the fourth longest in the world, the Mississippi River gets its start at Lake Itasca and flows through nine other states, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. For its first 650 miles, it meanders through Minnesota's stately pine forests, iron ranges and a deep valley, as well as through the heart of the Twin Cities.

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kids crossing the mississippi headwaters itasca state park

Kids crossing the Mississippi Headwaters at Itasca State Park

The Headwaters

Known as the “Father of Waters," the great Mississippi River gets its start in Itasca State Park, as a gentle stream flowing from Lake Itasca where you can hop across rocks or even wade in when the weather is nice.

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Fall scenes along Great River Road Winona

Winona is one of Minnesota's most scenic river towns, and boasts a charming downtown with lots to see and do

River Towns

The towns and cities along the Mississippi River follow what’s known as the Great River Road, which offers a 600-plus-mile scenic drive from the headwaters in Itasca State Park to Bemidji, the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, Winona and beyond.

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Mississippi River road in the fall

Follow the Mississippi River's 600-plus-mile journey across Minnesota on the Great River Road

Epic Road Trips

Follow the Mississippi River’s journey along the Great River Road National Scenic Byway for a truly epic road trip: see 565 miles, 43 communities, 20 counties, lakes and so much more along the way. 

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Mississippi River bluffs Weaver Bottoms fall driving

Mississippi River Bluffs near Weaver Bottoms / Paul Vincent

Bluff Country

Glacial meltwater helped carve the deep valleys of Minnesota’s southeast corner nearly 10,000 years ago. Today you can explore these valleys, wooded bluffs, quaint communities and rivers, the greatest of which is the Mississippi. 

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