Try this for fun. When you tell someone who hasn’t been to Itasca State Park in north central Minnesota that “I’ve jumped the mighty Mississippi River,” they often look funny and think you are fibbing, delusional or worse! Then, when you tell them you aren’t kidding and you jumped the rocks over the river when you were still a kid, they really get confused…and may think you have rocks in your head. Really, if you haven’t stepped across the Mississippi River yourself at any age – all without needing a bridge or walk in the water – at its beautiful headwaters, it is worthwhile experience.
Wikipedia reminds us that the name, Mississippi comes from the French word Messipi, which was how they rendered Anishinaabe (Ojibwe or Algonquin) name for the river, Misi-ziibi, or Great River). The Mississippi is the greatest river in all of North America. It flows 2530 miles from Lake Itasca, into the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi water shed reaches into Canada and much of the U.S..
Itasca State Park is the oldest state park in Minnesota. It was established in 1891. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says it attracts about half a million visitors from around the world every year.
The river begins at the lake, where you can step from one stone onto another to cross. You can also use a log bridge or wade the river, because the river is so shallow here.
Millions have had their photo taken by this marker, found near the stepping stones, shown above.
The state park has concessions where you can rent boats, motors, canoes, pontoons, paddleboats and kayaks and bikes, including tandem bicycles electric ones! If you love to fish, you can find bait and tackle here too.
There are a number of lodging option nearby, including RV sites, cabins, motels and hotels.
Water tours, bike and walking paths and driving tours around this stunning lake and its wooded surroundings are all available.
The park and the source of the Mississippi River is only about a 34 miles drive from Bemidji, MN. It is 208 miles from Minneapolis, 97 miles from Fargo, ND and under 150 miles from International Falls MN, at the border between Canada and the United States.
When you are ready to have an experience where you can share what sounds like a tall tale, Itasca State Park, source of the mighty Mississippi River, is a beautiful, memorable U.S. Destination. Make the trip part of your bucket list! ##