Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
Guide

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Introduction

Mississippi National River and Recreation Area is a 72-mile stretch of the Mississippi River. Located in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota, it is in a populated, metropolitan area. The recreation area is made up of many smaller parks ranging from city to state parks. There is much to explore during a visit to the Mississippi National River.

There are four museums within the recreation area where visitors can learn about different points of the area’s history, including the flour industry and early settlers to the area. On the water, anglers are likely to have luck fishing by boat or from the shoreline. Boating is popular along the Mississippi River and there are suggested routes that take you through nature-filled and scenic sections of the river. On land, head down one of the walking or hiking trails or plan to bring your bicycle along to explore the many bike trails.

No matter the time of year there is much to see at Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. The hours and dates open may vary for some of the parks within the recreation area. Be sure to check dates and times if wanting to visit specific parks before making the trip out. Though there aren’t any designated campgrounds within the recreation area, there are two KOAs located nearby.

Park Alerts (1)

[Information] St. Anthony Falls Visitor Center is Closed for the Season

The St. Anthony Falls Visitor Center is closed for the season, but will open for the 2019 summer season on Memorial Day weekend.

RV Rentals in Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Transportation in Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Driving

Mississippi National River and Recreation area is located in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota. The recreation area is considered a partnership park and is made up of many regional, city, and state parks.

Located in a Metropolitan area, it is easy to access the different areas of interest. By car, the river is easy to access from many roads in the area.

Once at the recreation area, visitors can hike or bike to get around.

Parking

Public Transport

Mass transit service runs through this area so you can easily take public transportation. By train, visitors can take Amtrak to the Union Depot station in Saint Paul and make the short walk to the visitor center.

Campgrounds and parking in Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Campsites in Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Minneapolis Southwest KOA Holiday

The Minneapolis Southwest KOA is located in Jordan, MN. This RV park is 36 miles (a 45-minute drive) from the Mississippi National Rive Recreation Area. Open from the end of April to early October each year, you are encouraged to make a reservation in advance here.

Some parking pads extend as long as 90 feet. Amenities include a pool, mini golf, WiFi, and bike rentals for a fee.

Minneapolis Northwest KOA Journey

The Minneapolis Northwest KOA is in Maple Grove, Minnesota. It's about 30 miles away and will take a little over half an hour to reach from the recreation area, depending on traffic. This RV park has sunny or shaded site options and some pull-through RV sites stretch up to 80 feet.

The KOA is open from April to October and reservations can be made in advance. Amenities include a pool that is open seasonally, a dog park, WiFi, and cable TV.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Spring

Geocaching

The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area provides the perfect opportunity for geocaching. With miles of bike and hiking trails as well as the numerous parks making up the recreation area there is much to explore.

Geocaching will lead you to many points of interest as you hunt for the many geocaches hidden within the recreation area. If planning on keeping what you find, be sure to bring along another trinket to leave in its place.

Summer

Boating

Boating is a popular activity along the 72-mile stretch of the Mississippi River. One popular route is Crow River to Coon Rapids. This is a calm, nearly 13 mile stretch of river. Those who take this route find it to be peaceful and full of nature.

Lion’s Levee Park to Grey Cloud Island is another popular route that takes you along short cliffs and a shipping channel before coming to Grey Cloud Island. Exercise caution near dams and around barges that may be along the channels.

Fishing

The river and lakes within the recreation area are excellent for fishing, whether it be from a boat or along the shoreline. You’ll find that the river has an abundance of smallmouth bass and walleye.

In floodplain lakes, anglers may catch trout, northern pike, and largemouth bass. The northern end of the Mississippi River is well-known as a smallmouth bass fishery.

Fall

Bicycling

The river and recreation area have a bike-friendly trail system including several dedicated bike routes. Other routes may be shared with pedestrians and in some instances along the roads. Many picnic areas are located along the trails at regional and city parks. Plan to take a break and have a snack or meal while out bicycling. One popular route is the Mississippi River Trail. During your visit, plan to bike along a portion of this 3,000 mile long trail.

Hiking

The recreation area has many trails ranging from paved, nature trails to strenuous, rugged hikes. A popular walking trail is at Water Power Park which takes visitors to the United States’ first hydro-electric plant. The trail is paved and is just over a half mile in length.

Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area is a more challenging hike which provides hikers with views of the Mississippi River. There are trail options along this route to make the hike shorter or longer.

Winter

Museums

While visiting Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, be sure to stop in at the museums. Each museum educates visitors on the area’s history. Mill City Museum teaches visitors about the flour industry and the impact it had on the area. The Sibley House Historic Site has four limestone buildings. It sits where the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers meet. Fort Snelling once was heavily used for trading as well as land claims to early settlers. The Science Museum is full of exhibits that visitors of all ages will enjoy.

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