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Mississippi National River

River Recreation in the Twin Cities

A list of aquatic adventure awaits your next visit to St. Paul – where you'll check out the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area. Your time in the Gopher State should include a day spent exploring the Great Mississippi.

Visitor Information

Established in 1988, and spread across nearly 54,000 acres, the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area is a must-see on any visit to the Twin Cities. Protecting a 72-mile stretch of the Mighty Mississippi, this recreation area sprawls in and around Saint Paul, eventually leading to Spring Lake.

Enjoy an ease of access to this national recreation area throughout the year – it's always free to enter, and the visitor center is only closed on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and two weeks in September (when the science museum closes for maintenance).

There aren't many permits you'll need to explore the Mississippi National River. If you're planning on hosting an event of 25 people or more, there are certain areas of the park where reservations and permits may be required. Check out the Mississippi River Visitor Center for all the precise details.

Because of the enormity of this recreation area, you'll find varying degrees of pet-friendliness. Coldwater Spring is certainly pet-friendly, so long as you use a leash of six feet or more, and the Battle Creek Regional Park features 10 acres of open space.

Attractions & Activities

As you plan for your tour through the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area, you might find it hard to hard to do in a day, with its borders actually overlapping into small towns, regional parks, and nature areas. There are 51 parks, dams, and historic sites within, each yielding excellent agritourism possibilities.

Animal lovers make their way to the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, history buffs can spend a few hours touring the John H. Stevens House, and the entire family will love the Science Museum of Minnesota. Lock and Dam 1 is ideal for anglers hoping to land a record-setting walleye, while Snelling Lake yields impressive hauls of bluegills and northern pike.

Though the entirety of the trail stretches roughly 3,000 miles – the total length of the Mississippi River – cyclists enjoy riding along a portion of the Mississippi River Trail in Minnesota. If it's nature walks and hikes you're interested in, be sure to check out the Mississippi River Visitor Center Walking Tour, Winchell Trail, or Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific & Natural Area.

There are even more ways to experience this impressive recreation area, and canoeing and kayaking might just be the ticket. Launch your preferred vessel at the confluence of the Crow River and the Mississippi – you'll glide through a nearly 13-mile stretch of the Mississippi River.