The Mississippi River is one of the world’s great rivers with one of the most complex ecosystems on the planet. It is also one of the defining features of the North American continent and is home to a diverse collection of wildlife and plant life. Learn about the natural resources and history of the Mississippi River within the park corridor.

Featured Pages

State of the River Report
How is the Mississippi River? Can I swim in it? Is water pollution improving? Can I eat the fish I catch? National Park Service staff have helped developed the State of the River Report, which assembles and analyzes a wealth of data-and communicates in plain terms how the river is doing, in order to answer these frequently-posed questions.

Climate Change
Climate change is already affecting national parks across the country. Visit our climate change pages to learn more about our changing climate and what you can do to help!

Minimizing Lock Usage
The National Park Service is encouraging boaters to trailer boats around the locks instead of going through them. This will minimize the chance that Asian carp will pass through the locks and into uninfested waters. Please do your part to help stop these fish!
Learn more about minimizing lock usage...

Water Quality
Find out what's being done to clean up the river, get informed about what you can do to reduce the amount of pollutants entering the river and join up with others to make a difference.
Learn more about water quality in the Mississippi River...

Invasive Asian Carp
The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area is working on an Action Plan to stop Asian carp as far down stream as possible. Are you curious about why these fish are so bad? Read about how Asian carp might impact our rivers and lakes, how they spread, and what they eat.

River Otters
North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) are a sign of clean water and a healthy river ecosystem, and are making a comeback in urban stretches of the Mississippi River. Learn more about river otters and how the park studies them with otter "sign surveys".

Waterbird Survey on the Upper Mississippi River
Migrating waterbirds arrive each fall on the pools of the upper Mississippi River to forage and to follow the river south toward wintering areas. A partnership, led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is monitoring the number of waterbirds for management purposes.

Vegetation Survey
As part of a multi-year vegetation study, scientists for the National Park Service are surveying our plants and forests. Scientists at the Great Lakes Inventorying and Monitoring Network surveyed the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in 2011. The study helps us make informed decisions about resource management and maintenance within the park.

Bald Eagle Survey
Chances are high that you've seen a bald eagle along the Mississippi recently. The National Park Service is studying bald eagles to determine the persistence of various chemicals in the upper Mississippi River, the Saint Croix and the Apostle Islands. Learn more about bald eagle studies and how they relate to the health of the larger river ecosystem.

Prairie Restoration
The prairies of North America were once vast grasslands that covered 200 million acres, a complex ecosystem supporting a large amount of wildlife. Today, less than one percent of that native habitat is left. Learn about what's being done to restore the prairies and how restoration supports the revitalization of river habitats.

Cottonwood Restoration
The National Park Service is working with partner organizations the Mississippi River Fund, Minnesota GreenCorps, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, and the University of Minnesota, to determine which approaches will add younger cottonwoods to the riparian ecosystem. Learn more about cottonwoods...

Mississippi River Facts
Did you know the Mississippi River watershed includes 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces? Or that at Lake Itasca, the Mississippi's source, the river is only 20-30 feet wide and can easily be walked across? Find out more interesting river facts and answers to your river-related questions.

Did You Know?