In the vast pine forest of northern Minnesota is the beginning of the great river known to all the world as the Mighty Mississippi. At the Mississippi's source in Itasca State Park, the river begins as an ankle-deep trickling stream, and then winds its way 2,552 miles (4,100 km) through the center of the North American continent to the Gulf of Mexico. Since the days of American Indians exploring the region to the pageantry of the steamboat era, the story of the "Father of Waters" is fascinating, and it all begins in Minnesota.
According to legend, those who step across the Mississippi at its source will live a long and happy life, and that great riches will come to whoever finds the mythical Cities of Gold along its banks.
In Minnesota these cities include Bemidji, first city on the Mississippi; Park Rapids, resort wonderland; Grand Rapids, where lumberjack history comes to life; Little Falls, boyhood home of aviator Charles Lindbergh; and Minneapolis/Saint Paul/Bloomington, the metropolitan area full of arts, culture and Mall of America, the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the U.S. Then the Mississippi flows south through charming small towns named after famous Indian chiefs including Red Wing and Wabasha. Daughter of a chief!
At many cities along the Mississippi, visitors can board riverboats for narrated tours, or get on the river for fishing, canoe, waterski and kayak adventures. Trails and roads along the river provide extended bicycling, hiking or auto touring experiences. American Cruise Lines and the Great American Steamboat Company offer overnight cruises from St. Paul. Or dine at one of the many restaurants along the river, enjoying magnificent scenery along with your meal.
Explore Minnesota, headwaters to the Mississippi River!