The St. Anthony Visitor Center (NPS) provides panoramic views of the Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam, St. Anthony Falls, and the surrounding mill district. Exhibits at the visitor center provide information about the falls and its place in Minnesota history. Rangers lead short walks from the visitor center out onto the lock walls and describe how the falls changed the course of history of the area and of the nation.
CAUTION: Boaters, kayakers, and canoeists should exercise caution around the dam due to water turbulence and strong currents. There is now a portage around the dam for canoeists and kayakers.
The dream of traveling north of St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River was made possible when Congress approved the Upper Minneapolis Harbor Development Project in 1937. This project included the construction of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam that was completed in 1963.
With a lift of 49 feet, the lock at St. Anthony Falls accounts for more than 10% of the total height change of the Mississippi River between the Twin Cities and St. Louis, MO. The Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam, along with the Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam, allowed navigation to the head of the Mississippi River's 9-foot channel until the upper lock was closed in 2015 to prevent the upstream spread of the invasive Asian carps.
The area's historic milling district, using the power of falling water at St. Anthony Falls, first gained prominence with the construction of large-scale lumber milling from logs floated down the Mississippi from central and northern Minnesota pine forests. Flour milling boomed later and numerous mills along this stretch of river changed the way food was produced, marketed, and distributed and changed the way we think about food.
The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area SAF Visitor Center is open from 9:30 a.m to 5:00 p.m. daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Tours of the lock and dam are offered daily at 11:00 a.m., 1:00, and 3:00 p.m., but visitors are welcome at any time during open hours. Subjects of the staff-led tours include the lively history of the river, milling, and other topics. Call the SAF Visitor Center at 651-293-0200 for more information.
Visitors can have their NPS passports stamped at the visitor center and can purchase National Park and Federal Lands passes (annual, senior, military, and access) here after June 5, 2016. We only accept credit cards.
There are numerous possibilities for walks and exploring the area's rich history, besides our guided tours. Talk to a ranger about possibilities or use the links below in Nearby Attractions.
Hours, Directions, and Contact Information
- Address: 1 Portland Avenue Minneapolis, MN 54401
- Get a Map
- GPS: 44.980880, -93.258322
- Parking: Limited parking is available at the lock and dam parking lot. Please park in those spots designated for visitor parking; other spots are contract parking. Parking may also be found on the streets in the area and at the Minneapolis fee parking lot just north of the lock and dam lot on West River Parkway.
- Visitor Center Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
- Contact information: 651-293-0200
Mill Ruins Park, Mill City Museum, Stone Arch Bridge, Father Hennepin Bluffs Park, First Bridge Park, Boom Island Park, Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, Ard Godfrey House, St. Anthony Falls National Historic District