One of the greatest rivers in the world starts in Minnesota. The River flows all the way to the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic Ocean. The Mississippi River in Minnesota goes through 20 counties in the State. The benefit this water provides to the people of the state, and other states is almost immeasurable. From catching a Smallmouth Bass to providing water and electricity the Mississippi River is sacred and irreplaceable. The Mississippi Headwaters located in Itasca State Park is one of the Top Ten Destinations in Minnesota. Here natural springs well up creating crystal clear water. Other rivers and tributaries like the Missouri RIver flow into the Mississippi River System. This water takes an approximate 2,325 mile journey through the United States and empty into the ocean. We need to protect this river for future generations, wildlife, and our own health.
Where does the Mississippi River Start?
The Mississippi Headwaters is located approximately 20 miles north of Park Rapids Minnesota off Highway 71. About 30 Miles South West of Bemidji, MN. Lake Itasca is located within the boarders a state park. The Mississippi River starts here as a small stream you and your family can walk through. The scenery consists of large white and red pines interment with oak, birch, and aspen trees. There is extreme wildlife including wolf and bear. Itasca State Park also has great hiking and biking opportunities. Fishing like most of northern Minnesota consists of panfish, walleye, and pike. However there are some areas lakes with trout. From here the Mississippi River Travels North East gradually becoming larger.
The next stop on the Journey of the Mississippi River in Minnesota is Bemidji. By this point the river is easy to canoe or kayak. Depth of the river can vary and dead trees, wild rice, or drought can prevent larger watercraft from entering. The river flows throw Lake Irving and into Lake Bemidji. Lake Bemidji is a large body of water, hosting monster fish and great recreation. On the northern shore is Lake Bemidji State Park. This area has great hiking, biking, and camping. Large Fish like Tiger Musky and Northern Pike can now be found in the Mississippi River. As it Flows out of Lake Bemidji to the East the river is now visibly wider, smaller watercraft and pontoons can be used. More and more homes are popping up along the shore.
Not far to the east our Mississippi River now enters Wolf lake, Andrusia, aka the “Cass Lake Chain”. This area is awesome, expansive, and unfortunately starting to see invasive species of plants and animals. The Cass Lake chain of lakes has interconnected waterways to other lakes for exploring as the Mississippi river continues meandering. Go to Star Island and Lake Windigo located in the middle of Cass Lake. Cass Lake can goes from 1ft to over 50 feet very quickly. Fishing Cass Lake and Pike Bay have very unique under water topography. This area is also home to the Leach Lake Band of Ojibwe. Native and Indigenous peoples have lived and Co – Inhabited with this land for thousands of years. Make sure to check all State, Federal, and Tribal regulations before entering waterways. As the Mississippi River heads east out of Cass Lake through Knutson Dam. Here the waterway is reduced. Again clearly a river the Mississippi winds through the Northwoods.
Mixed wild rice and reeds meet large pines and dense forest. When you enter the west side of Lake Winnibigoshish on the Mississippi River be ready to paddle. The marginal flow has now turned into a large lake once again. Sand bars, rock piles, large bays, and monster Fish. One of reasons we created this website is because of our experiences on BIg Winnie. Rustic campgrounds, great fishing, and clean air mixed with epic bobcat fights that might wake you up at 3am. This place is truly northern Minnesota. If the weather is good, make sure to bring a swimsuit. There are several smaller lakes connected to Lake Winnibigoshish, on windy days they provide shelter. The Mississippi River leaves the lake through Winne Dam. Once again the waterway is tamed and reduced. Little Winnibigoshish Lake is located near the Dam. This Isolated lake gives anglers and explores a smaller version of Big Winnie.
The Mississippi River really starts to meander. From here the river starts to turn South East towards Grand Rapids, MN. There are no major lakes in this section, however the river does widen, and flow increases. Population along the rivers continues to grow along with industrialization. Different industries including a paper mill harness the power of the river. The Papermill Reservoir in the middle of town has a dam on the east side. This once again narrows the river and controls the flow. Grand Rapids Minnesota is inter-connected to the Mississippi River. Make sure to check out Lake Pokegama. This area has a ton of lakes and outdoor recreational opportunities. The Mississippi River leaves Grand Rapids a small waterway continuing south east
The River Turns to the South and Picks up Volume
As the river continues it gains volume from the surrounding watershed running southeast from Grand Rapids to near Aitkin, MN. Where it starts a half moon to the southwest around Brainerd. Little Falls, and south to St Cloud Minnesota. The land and the water have really started to change now. The forests and and pines have all turned to farmland and deciduous trees. The population of people start to increase, and so does the flow of the Mississippi River. The Crow wing river, Sauk River, and numerous rivers and wetlands have drained into the river.
From this point forward the Mississippi River flows South East towards the corner of Minnesota. Ahead is the largest urban concentration in the state. The Minneapolis / St Paul Metropolitan area is the lifeblood of the region. From large manufactures to small farms there is tons of diversity in this metropolis. Unfortunately with over strain comes contamination. The Mississippi provides water for power, drinking, cleaning, and everything for millions of people. However at this point I would think twice about consuming the meat of any fish you harvest from the river. Mercury contamination is potentially in every fish you harvest on the Mississippi, however from this section forward other more serious contaminates join the flow and I would not advise eating the fish.
The small river that you can almost jump over at its starts is now large enough for some barges. The land has almost fully transformed. There are not hardly any lakes left. Farm land is the dominate country side. The Mississippi River flows through Red Wing, MN and continues southeast by WInona and out of the state. At this point in Minnesota there has been over 120 places to cross the river and or access it. Numerous wetlands, rivers, and watersheds have converged into something greater.
The Mississippi River is really the blood and the surrounding topography is the heart. Swelling in the spring with runoff and flowing out of the state towards the Atlantic ocean. Millions of people interact with the energy everyday. Some don’t realized the pulse of the river provide them with their life in a lot of ways.