One hundred ten feet wide and 600 feet long, Lock and Dam 5A is situated near Fountain City on the Upper Mississippi River, three miles upstream of Winona, MN. This Lock and Dam was constructed in 1932 and officially came into operation on July 6, 1936. It was a part of the 29 locks and dams for the Nine Foot Channel authorization given to the US Army Corps of Engineers.
While the Locks and Dams were authorized and built for navigation, the Mississippi River plays a vital role as a valuable environmental resource and also provides endless recreational opportunities. The US Army Corps of Engineers partnered with various other agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge to preserve and enhance the Mississippi Resources for future generations.
Lock and Dam 5A itself does not host any public facility or access, but there are public facilities throughout the Upper Mississippi River. The most common of these activities include extensive water-based recreational opportunities such as backwater hunting and fishing to long-distance cruising in the main channel.
The Mississippi River is also termed an American Heritage River, hence the entire length of it offers endless sightseeing tours, views of bald eagles soaring above the river, and a chance to visit quaint and lesser-known picturesque riverside towns.
Mississippi River – Pool 5A is located nearly 4 miles which is less than a ten-minute drive from Fountain City, Wisconsin. The Pool can be accessed via the Wisconsin State Highway 35 that is part of the Great River Road.
Head southwest on North St towards the Great River Road and take a left at Wisconsin Highway. Go straight for 3.9 miles before taking a sharp right to reach your destination. The drive is scenic and picturesque and can be thoroughly enjoyed in an RV or motorhome.
The closest campground to the Mississippi River – Pool 5A is Wisconsin’s, Merrick State Park that boasts two separate campgrounds.
The North Campground of the state park has 25 campsites for RVs, with 22 of them fitted with electrical hookups. At the park’s entrance, by the contact station, RV campers would also find a dump station. Site 6 on this campground is ADA accessible.
The South Campground of the State Park has a total of 35 campsites, and 28 of them are close to the waterfront. During the flooding season in the Mississippi River, this campground is often closed.
The maximum RV length at the Merrick State Park’s campgrounds is 50 ft.
Pool 5A is a passage for various types of vessels during the navigation season from mid-march and all the way to early December. Canoes, two boats, and barges with nearly 12 million tons of cargo using this passage every year. Additionally, an average of 11,000 crafts uses the same passage every year. Gravel and asphalt boat launches can be found throughout the pool.
Four boat launches are at the Merrick State Park alone, which is situated right on the banks of Pool 5A, and two more can be found on the banks of the Mississippi River pool 5A where it flows past Fountain City. Another boat landing is situated right at the beginning of the Pool 5A managed by the US Corps of Engineers.
Mississippi River – Pool 5A is teeming with largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegills, crappies, and many other species of fish. A fishing pier is located at the Blackbird Slough, right next to the boat ramp. Anglers can also take advantage of boat ramps to go fishing in a boat.
The banks by the pool 5A are very serene and calm, and one can sit for hours in peace and quiet and enjoy fishing. Ice fishing is also a popular activity offered during winters at the National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
There are plenty of hiking opportunities offered all around Mississippi River- Pool 5A. Merrick State Park offers hiking on two miles of trails. These two miles of trails connect various landscapes and takes hikers through wetlands, prairies, hardwood forests, floodplains, and various other terrains. There’s no better way to explore the area around the Mississippi River than embarking on a hike. The trails are relatively easy to follow and people of most age-groups can enjoy it.
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Mississippi River, less than a 20-minute drive away from pool 5A, and offers tons of recreational activities. Visitors get to observe wildlife as the migrating birds pass through, and also get to see geese, ducks, and tundra swans. In the Upper Mississippi River, plenty of wintering bald eagles flock near the open water, seizing fish with their talons and soaring high to the treetops to enjoy their meals.
The place also provides abundant opportunities for wildlife photography. Photographers can begin snapping at the observation deck to get an expansive view of refuge pools and even get to capture the large flocks of waterfowl resting and drinking water, especially in the spring and fall.
The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is open to the public for deer and waterfowl hunting. The state regulations are to be followed in addition to abiding by the rules and regulations of the facility. Since the refuge serves as a resting and feeding area, plenty of waterfowl and deer are found here.
The Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge also provides two hunting zones to the visitors for deer and waterfowl. It also offers trapping units for muskrat and beaver but only during the Wisconsin trapping seasons.
Merrick State Park boasts picnic areas alongside the Mississippi River. One of the areas is near to the boat launch, and visitors can bring their leashed pets along. Reservable shelters are also available at the park. Designated parking, picnic tables, and grills are also available for those who fancy a picnic by these spectacular river and lake waters.