Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Programs title bar with the National Park Service arrowhead Parknet and arrowhead


Minnesota Segments
Hector Santiago
National Park Service
Midwest Regional Office
601 Riverside Drive
Omaha, Nebraska 68102
(402) 661-1848
Photo of river in Minnesota

River

County

Reach

Length (miles)

Year Listed/ Updated

Potential Classi- fication

ORVs

Description

Other States

Ash River

St. Louis

Ash Lake north to Ash River Falls near Kabetogama Lake

26

1982/ 1993

R

R

Land adjacent to river is generally flat and swampy, being mostly on lake bed of ancient Lake Agassiz. Fishing and canoeing. Lower portion is designated State trout stream.

 

Ash River

St. Louis

Ash River Falls to HWY. 53 at Ash Lake

25

1982

 

R

The land is generally flat, being mostly on lake bed of Ancient Lake Agassiz. Contains a considerable amount of swamp. Good warm water fishing and excellent wilderness canoe trip. A recommended state canoe route. Some low falls and rapids. A northern river flowing in part just outside the boundary of Voyageurs National Park, through a generally well wooded watershed. Fishing and canoeing use moderate. Not a popular river. Somewhat impacted by R.S. 53 in upper reaches.

 

Bear River

St. Louis, Itasca

Confluence with Sturgeon River to 12b boundary (Sec. 35, T61N, R23W)

23

1982

 

S

A relatively small stream in northern Minnesota with moderate recreational use. In Washington and Sturgeon River State Forests. Minimal cultural intrusion.

 

Big Fork River

Koochiching, Itasca

Confluence with Rainy River to Dora Lake

154

1982

 

S, R

A long stretch of northern river starting in the Chippewa National Forest and flowing through a heavily forested, unspoiled watershed. A free-flowing stream with swift rapids, waterfalls and some long remote stretches. A state canoe route. It offers a wilderness trip of outstanding quality.

 

Black River

Koochiching

Confluence with Rainy River to intermittent area (Sec. 2, T157N, R28W)

35

1982

 

S

A northern tributary to Rainy River flowing through the Pine Island State Forest and the controversial North Black River Peatlands potential National Natural Landmark. Generally low recreational use.

 

Blue Earth River

Blue Earth, Faribault

Rapidan Lake to city of Blue Earth

58

1982

 

S, R

Flows through the heart of southern Minnesota farm country but has generally well wooded banks. A broad stream with very good floating and fishing potential. Generally high fishing use, it offers one of the best warm water fisheries in southern Minnesota. Lower portion has high hills and some rock outcrops.

 

Brule River

Cook

Mouth at Lake Superior to Horseshoe Lake in BWCA

38

1982

 

S, R, G

Flows in part through Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Superior National Forest in upper portion and Grand Portage State Forest in lower stretch. High hills, gorges, rapids and falls add to scenic beauty. Watershed is completely forested. Little cultural intrusion. Fishing good, but it is only canoeable by experienced canoeists.

 

Brule River

Cook

Horseshoe Lake in BWCA to Lake Superior 3 miles west of Hovland, MN.

38

1982/ 1993

S

S, G

Lower stretch noted for spectacular rapids, waterfalls, and gorges. Popular for fishing, and State-designated trout stream.

 

Caldwell Brook

Koochiching

Confluence with Big Fork River to source

41

1982

 

S

A small tributary of the Big Fork River flowing through a very wild watershed in the Pine Island State Forest. Moderate fishing use and very little canoeing use.

 

Cannon River

Rice, Dakota

Waterford to Spillway at Faribault

20

1982

 

S, R

A slow moving stream with rolling farmland and marshes in upper portion and high hills and 250-foot bluffs in lower reaches. A good canoeing stream with some outstanding scenery. Medium to good warm water fishing. Authorized for study for State Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

 

Clearwater River

Clearwater

County Rd. 69 in Greenwood Twp. Clearwater County to Bagley

35

1982

 

S

A large tributary of the Red Lake River in northwestern Minnesota. Flows through watershed which is about 30 percent farmed and 70 percent forested. The land is basically flat and has much low swampy terrain. Moderate canoeing and fishing use.

 

Cloquet River

St. Louis, Lake

Mouth to source excluding Island Lake impoundment

88

1982

 

S, R

One of northeastern Minnesota's best streams. Has little cultural development in some segments. A good canoeing stream rising in the Superior National Forest hill country and flowing through the Cloquet Valley State Forest to a point near Duluth. Fair warm water fishing with some trout available. Authorized for study for State Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

 

Cloquet River

St. Louis, Lake

Cloquet Lake on Isabella Ranger District to Forest Boundary

20

1982/ 1993

S, R

S, R

Upper reaches are canoeable during spring and wetter than average years. Moderate warm-water fisheries.

 

Crow River

Hennepin

Mouth to confluence with North and South Branches

0

1982

   

Flows through central Minnesota farm country and Minneapolis SMSA. Banks generally tree-lined with farming to waters edge in some places.

 

Crow Wing River

Morrison

From Motley to confluence with Shell River

43

1982

 

S, R

A fairly broad river flowing through a fairly well wooded corridor in central Minnesota. The watershed is about 30 percent farmed and has much swamp and marsh. Considerable fishing and floating use. Proposed for study by State Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

 

Des Moines River, West Fork

Murray, Cottonwood, Jackson

Petersburg to Windom dam (56 river miles); Windom dam to Talbot Lake dam (36 rm); Talbot Lake dam to Lake Shetek dam (24 rm); Lake Shetek dam to source (21 rm)

137

1982

 

R

A leisurely stream flowing through southeastern Minnesota. Flat farm country. Watershed is mainly agricultural with some farming to waters edge. One of the few good canoeing streams in this part of the state. Main portion of river lies in Iowa. Some historic value.

 

Embarass River

St. Louis

From north end of Sabin Lake to source

26

1982

 

S

A small northern river flowing through a heavily forested watershed and near the Superior National Forest boundary.

 

Little Fork

Koochiching, St. Louis

Confluence with Rainy River to town of Cook

140

1982

 

S, G

A wilderness river flowing north to the Canadian border through a heavily forested portion of the state with a small amount of agriculture in the watershed. Flows through a portion of the Nett Lake Indian Reservation and Koochiching State Forest.

 

Lower Tamarack River

Pine

Mouth to source

26

1982

 

S

A relatively small tributary of the St. Croix River. Has a well forested watershed with some agriculture. Good fishing and seasonable canoeing.

 

Manitou River

Lake

Mouth at Lake Superior to source

16

1982

 

S, G, F

A relatively small north shore stream rising in the Superior National Forest and flowing through hill country. Lower 7 miles has deep gorge with 8 major waterfalls. Due to stable flow and excellent water quality it is one of the best trout streams in the area.

 

Manitou River

Lake

Source to Lake Superior

16

1982/ 1993

S

S, G, F

Lower half has deep gorges with eight major waterfalls. Good trout stream. Fishing and some cross-country skiing.

 

Middle River

Marshall

Argyle to Newfolden

40

1982

 

S

A meandering stream though a heavily farmed area of northwestern Minnesota. The watershed is somewhat flat, but the river is located in a shallow valley which is for the most part wooded. Flows through Old Mill State Park. Generally low to moderate recreational use.

 

Minnehaha Creek

Hennepin

Lake Minnetonka to Minnetonka Blvd.

5

1982

 

S, R, G

Located within the city limits of Minneapolis flowing through mainly residential and park areas. A small stream with much shoreline activity. Falls in lower portion. Flows through limestone gorge near mouth.

 

Minnesota River

Carver, Scott, Sibley, LaSueur, Nicollet, Blue Earth, Brown, Renville, see comments for full list

Chaska to Belle Plaine (21 river miles) to LaSueur (29rm) to St. Peter (17rm) to Mankato (17rm) to New Ulm (32rm) to Granite (108rm); Falls Power Plant Marsh Flowage to Big Stone Lake (86 rm)

310

1982

 

S, R, W, H

Counties-Redwood, Yellow, Medicine, Chippewa, Lac Qui Parle

A long river segment having a very large watershed. Flows through south central Minnesota farm country. Hardwood forest areas and rock outcroppings. Minnesota River Valley is a major geologic resource. Was route of early traders, settlers and explorers. Many Indian mounds. Historic Ft. Snelling located at mouth on Mississippi River. Relatively gentle and good canoeing stream. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge located on this river. Fishing is a major recreational use. Located in part in Minneapolis-St. Paul SMSA. Partially in State Wild and Scenic Rivers System and part authorized for study.

 

Mississippi River

Washington, Dakota, Hennepin

St. Croix to COE Lock and Dam #1 in Minneapolis

11

1982

 

S, R, G, W, H

A broad interstate river with considerable recreational potential. Recreational boating (power boats and house boats) is a major use. Receives heavy fishing use. Some canoe use. Much commercial barge traffic. Early fur trader and explorer route. Many historic and archeological sites along river, including historic and scenic Ft. Snelling. Limestone bluffs visible from river. Partially in Minneapolis-St. Paul SMSA. One of nation's largest waterfowl routes.

 

Moose River

Aitkin, Cass

From fork of Willow-Moose River ditch to source

25

1982

 

S

A small north central Minnesota stream flowing through a generally well wooded watershed with some farming. Much low swamp land along corridor. Low recreational use.

 

Pigeon River

Cook

From mouth at Lake Superior to S. Fowl Lake

30

1982

 

S, R, G

Flows along the border between the United States and Canada. A truly wild river flowing through scenic hills, gorges and over spectacular waterfalls. Flows through Grand Portage State Forest, Grande Portage Indian Reservation and Grand Portage National Monument. Good fishing. Floating for the experienced only.

 

Pigeon River

Cook

Entire segment within Grand Portage National Monument

1

1982/ 1993

W

S, R, G, C

A truly wild river flowing through scenic hills, gorges, and over spectacular waterfalls. Flows through Grand Portage State Forest and Grand Portage Indian Reservation. Good fishing and canoeing.

 

Pigeon River

Cook

The 8 miles adjacent to Superior National Forest and Pigeon River purchase unit

8

1982/ 1993

S

S, G, H

River gradually narrows and quickens, then goes through falls and rapids to Lake Superior. Total length 30 miles; river is the National boundary with most of the Canadian side within a provincial park.

 

Prairie River

Itasca

Hay Creek Fork to source

36

1982

 

S

Much of this stream is located in Savanna State Forest. Was once part of an important portage route during fur trade era. Moderate existing recreational use.

 

Prairie River

Aitkin, St. Louis

Mouth at the Mississippi River to source

29

1982

 

S

A north central Minnesota river flowing for the most part through the Savanna State Forest. Has a generally well forested watershed with scattered agriculture. Flows through much flat, swampy country. Low to moderate recreational use.

 

Rapid River

Koochiching, Lake of the Woods

From confluence with Rainy River to channelized area in Sec. 23, T157N, R33W

49

1982

 

S

A northern river originating in Beltrami Island State Forest, and flowing very near to Upper Red Lake Peatlands National Natural Landmark. A meandering stream through a flat, fairly heavily farmed portion of the state. Low recreational use.

 

Rapid River, East Fork

Koochiching

Confluence with Rapid River to intermittent area

22

1982

 

S

A small tributary of the Rapid River. Very little recreational use. Some warm water fishing. Watershed about 50 percent farmed with a considerable amount of low swampy area.

 

Rapid River, North Fork

Lake of the Woods

Confluence with Rapid River to Sec. 13, T158N, R33W

19

1982

 

S

Originates and flows in part on Beltrami Island State Forest and Red Lake Indian Reservation. Watershed fairly flat and 50 percent farmed, with a considerable amount of low swampy area. Low recreational use.

 

Rat Root River

Koochiching, St. Louis

12b to Boundary source

22

1982

 

S

A northern stream rising in the Kabetogama State Forest and flowing eventually to the Rainy River. Very little cultural intrusion with a heavily forested watershed. Flat Glacial lake country with much swamp and muskeg. Light fishing and canoe use.

 

Rat Root River, East Fork

Koochiching, St. Louis

12b Boundary to source

33

1982

 

S

A rather small, meandering basically primitive stream through northern Minnesota. Upper part in Kabetogama State Forest. Low to moderate recreational and fishing use.

 

Rat Root River, East Fork

Koochiching, St. Louis

12b Boundary to source

10

1982/ 1993

 

S

Small, meandering stream flowing through LaCroix Ranger District-Kabetogama Purchase Unit.

 

Red Lake River

Polk, Red Lake

Folsoun Park dam to Crookston (47 river miles); Crookston City (5 river miles); Crookston to Red River Falls Dam (37 river miles); Red River falls dam to Thief Falls dam (29 river miles)

118

1982

 

S, R

Drains the Red Lakes system of North Central Minnesota. Flows through mainly flat forest and swamp country with heavily forested watershed. Canoeing good with some white water areas.

 

Rice River

St. Louis

Cook Airport to Big Rice Lake

29

1982

 

S

A meandering river flowing through an area of intermediate hill and swamp country. Moderate cultural development. Low fishing and canoeing use.

 

Rice River

St. Louis

Big Rice Lake in Virginia Ranger District to Cook Airport

10

1982/ 1993

S

S

Flows through area of intermediate hills and swamp country.

 

Root River

Houston, Fillmore

Mouth to source

51

1982

 

S, R, G

Flows through southeastern Minnesota hill country and extensive Richard J. Dover Memorial Hardwood Forest. Upper portion has high limestone and sandstone bluffs. Watershed generally forested with some bottomland agriculture. Fair to good trout fishing. Good recreation potential.

 

Roseau River

Roseau

Hays Lake impoundment to Mulligan Lake

30

1982

 

S

An international river, half of which is located in Province of Manitoba. Flows through flat northwestern Minnesota area of vast swamps and peatland. Generally low recreational use.

 

Rum River

Anoka, Mille, Lacs, Isanti

From State Hospital in Anoka to sewage treatment plant at Princeton

25

1982

 

R

A very good east central Minnesota river flowing through rolling hill country to the Mississippi River. Farmland is prevalent in the area but the corridor is generally well wooded. Lower segment has some moderate cultural intrusion. High existing recreational use. Good canoe river. An existing component of State Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Very meandering in upper portion.

 

Sand Creek

Pine

Mouth to confluence with Pickle Cr.

27

1982

 

S

A small tributary of the St. Croix River flowing several miles through St. Croix State Park. Relatively little cultural development. It has a heavily wooded watershed in lower reaches with some farming in upper portion. Generally not canoeable but is used for trout fishing. Good water quality.

 

Sauk River

Stearns

Richmond to Melrose (61 river miles); Melrose Flowage to Sauk Center Airport (13 river miles); Little Sauk Lake to source (10 river miles)

84

1982

 

R

A central Minnesota river flowing through primarily farm country with some forest areas in watershed. Receives low to medium fishing and floating use.

 

Schoolcraft River

Hubbard

From mouth at Plantagenet Lake to source

25

1982

 

S

A small stream flowing through a heavily forested watershed with many low, swampy areas in the corridor. Majority of this segment lies within Paul Bunyan State Forest. Low to moderate recreational use.

 

Shell River

Wadena

Confluence with Crow Wing River to Lower Twin Lake

10

1982

 

S

A short segment all within the Huntersville State Forest. Watershed generally forested with some farmed land. River banks are mostly tree lined. Low recreational use.

 

Shell Rock River

Freeborn

Albert Lea Lake to Minnesota boundary

14

1982

 

R

Flows through southern Minnesota farm country originating at Albert Lea Lake, with the major portion being in Iowa. A relatively small stream in Minnesota portion. Good canoeing and limited fishing.

 

Snake River

Aitkin, Kanabec

S.R. 65 above Mora in Kanabec County to S.R. 65 crossing at McGrath

44

1982

 

S, R

Upper portion has some very wild and scenic areas. Has some difficult rapids through high granite walled gorges. Very scenic. Lower segment is more placid with long quiet pools. A good recreational river with some challenging canoeing. Fair fishing. Authorized for study for State Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

 

St. Francis River

Sherburne

Confluence with Elk River to where it passes out of Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge near Benton County line

29

1982

 

S

Lower portion flows through area of fairly heavy agriculture. Corridor generally well wooded. Low to moderate recreational use. Flows for many miles through Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.

 

Sturgeon and Dark Rivers

St. Louis

Confluence with Little Fork to source of Dark River

46

1982

 

S

Upper half within boundary of Superior National Forest. Flows through generally flat northern Minnesota forest and swamp country. Receives low recreational use.

 

Sturgeon and Dark Rivers

St. Louis

Source of Dark River to confluence with Little Fork River

18

1982/ 1993

S

S

Flow through generally flat northern MN forest, swamp, and farming country. Designated trout stream.

 

Temperance River

Cook

Mouth at Lake Superior to Marsh Lake

26

1982

 

S

A very scenic north shore stream starting out as an easy river in the uplands and flowing the last few miles over many dangerous rapids and falls, through deep rocky gorges. Canoeable in upper and middle reaches. Some seasonal fishing near mouth. Flows through Temperance River State Park near Lake Superior. All within Superior National Forest boundary.

 

Temperance River

Cook

Marsh Lake to mouth at Lake Superior

26

1982/ 1993

 

S

Begins as gentle stream in uplands and flows last few miles over rapids, falls, and through deep, rocky gorges. Provides excellent fishing opportunities.

 

Turtle River

Beltrami

Mouth at Mississippi River to source

43

1982

 

H

A northern tributary to the upper Mississippi River. Flows through flat, forested and sometimes swampy watershed in the Chippewa National Forest and Leech Lake Indian Reservation. A number of archeological sites occur along river. Moderate floating and fishing use.

 

Vermilion River

St. Louis

From dam at Vermilion Lake to Vermilion Gorge

32

1982

 

S, R, G

Forms the west proclamation boundary of Superior National Forest and has 30 percent Forest Service ownership. A northern river flowing through a heavily forested watershed. It flows through many marsh and swamp areas interspersed with pine and spruce forests. Parts have steep rapids and falls and pass through spectacular gorges. Warm water fishing generally good. Offers an excellent wilderness canoe trip. Has some difficult rapids.

 

Vermilion River

St. Louis

Origin at Vermilion Dam to Vermilion Gorge

32

1982/ 1993

 

S, R, G

Flows from rapids and narrow rocky gorges to large expanses of water surrounded by bog. Popular for canoeing, fishing, wild rice gathering, and waterfowl hunting.

 

Whiteface River

St. Louis

Mouth to Whiteface Reservoir

62

1982

 

S

A relatively gentle river flowing through a fairly flat watershed with a few rolling hills. Watershed is about 80 percent forested and 20 percent farmed. Many tamarack and spruce swamps. Moderate fishing and boating use.

 

Wild Rice River

Clearwater, Norman, Mahnomen

Twin Valley to Lower Rice Lake

78

1982

 

S, R

A very interesting river segment in western Minnesota flowing though forested and sometimes heavily farmed watershed. A meandering river with a generally well wooded corridor. A major portion is within the White Earth Indian Reservation and a small part of upper segment is in White Earth State Forest. Heavy recreational demand on river.

 

Willow River

Aitkin

Mouth to confluence with Hill River

27

1982

 

S

A meandering stream flowing through generally flat north central Minnesota. Watershed fairly well forested with farming heavy in some areas. Much swamp-marsh land. Low to moderate canoeing and fishing usage.