Jul 13 2010

Wading across the Mississippi River

Living in Minnesota, the Mississippi River is a large part of our state’s identity.  We’ve crossed it in so many different places: St. Cloud and Minneapolis, Minnesota; La Crosse, Wisconsin; Davenport, Iowa; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; and near its mouth in Louisiana.  No matter where we are, there’s something exciting about crossing the “mighty Mississippi.”

Did you know, however, that this mighty river, so strong and powerful as it moves downstream, has very humble beginnings?  The outlet of Lake Itasca, between Bagley and Park Rapids, Minnesota, is the beginning of the Mississippi River.  Here, in Itasca State Park,  even the youngest children can say they waded across the Mississippi.

Visitors can wade through the clear water on a sand bed, navigate the rocks that mark the start of the river, or walk across on a log bridge.  There are several trails and paths for hiking and biking, and the walk from the parking lot and visitor center to the water itself is a mere 800 feet.

For children in Minnesota, it’s one of those activities that teachers expect to hear about in “what I did this summer” reports.  The variety of license plates in the parking lot of the Headwaters visitor center, however, proves that visiting the Mississippi Headwaters is an activity popular with people from around the United States.

On this trip, we didn’t have time to do more than splash in the river for a while, but our short visit to Itasca State Park was enough to let us know that we want to return for a weekend of camping, hiking, and biking on the scenic trails in this historic park.

Have you dipped your toes in the Mississippi River?

For more family-travel adventures (and potential vacation ideas), check out Spotlight Thursdays at Trekaroo.


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8 comments so far

8 Comments to “Wading across the Mississippi River”

  1. Katie on 13 Jul 2010 at 11:19 am

    Yes I have dipped my toes in the Mississippi! I think Itasca offers a beautiful camping location with plenty of family fun. It is serene and gorgeous Minnesota country. And very few Americans I think actually know the Mississippi starts in Minnesota.
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..Summer Baseball-500th post =-.

  2. kim/hormone-colored days on 13 Jul 2010 at 11:45 am

    We did it! It took us off the beaten path for longer than expected on our way back to Chicago from Manitoba (nonstop), but my husband insisted we see it. I’m sorry we didn’t have longer to stay. The exhibits were informative and yes, my boys enjoyed scrambling across the Might Mississippi. (Our visit was at about 7:00 on a June evening, the mosquitos were plentiful!)
    .-= kim/hormone-colored days´s last blog ..The Chicago Moms- Because Mother Nature and Mother Bloggers Abhor a Vacuum =-.

  3. Jennifer on 13 Jul 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Very nice post. It’s so interesting to think about how the waters of one long river traverse many state boundaries.
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Killer Whales Breaching off Alaska Cruise Ship =-.

  4. Jen on 15 Jul 2010 at 4:27 pm

    How cool! The only way I know of the Mississippi is the murky brown looking water running through New Orleans. Who would have thought it could be so crystal clear!
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Wilderness at the Smokies – Sevierville- TN – Part One – Salamander Springs =-.

  5. Sharlene on 15 Jul 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I have only crossed over the Mississippi where it was already a large river but I have always wanted to swim at its source. What a neat adventure.
    .-= Sharlene´s last blog ..Spotlight Thursday- Exploring Trees Inside and Out =-.

  6. Carolina on 19 Jul 2010 at 10:26 pm

    No, I have not :( But one day I will go up to that park and set off with my raft.

  7. [...] (minnemom) writes about family travel at Travels with Children. Walking across the Mississippi River was one of the summer’s highlights for her children. AKPC_IDS += [...]

  8. [...] year’s entry: Mississippi Headwaters in Minnesota’s Itasca State Park.  This was another spur-of-the-moment route change, and it [...]

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