• Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

    Mississippi

    National River & Recreation Area Minnesota

Nature & Science

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 develop 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.
more...

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!
More...

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!
more...

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.
more...

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 they might impact our rivers and lakes, how they spread, and what they eat.
more...

River Otters
North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) were common 100 years ago in the Upper Mississippi River Basin, but hunting, trapping, pollution and city growth nearly caused the species to go extinct. The otter population is making a comeback, and National Park Service rangers have confirmed presence of otters in the park though a "sign survey."
more...

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), monitors the number of waterfowl for management purposes.
more...

Vegetation Survey
As part of a multi-year 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 maintenence within the park.
more...

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. These studies provide insight into how many eagles are here, and the health of the river and related ecosystems.
more...

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 facts and answers to your river-related questions.
more...

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.
more...

Did You Know?

Itasca, Headwaters of the Mississippi River

The river is so shallow at Lake Itasca that children can walk across the Mississippi. Between Governor Nicholls Wharf and Algiers Point in New Orleans, the Mississippi is more than 200 feet deep.