Itasca State Park

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36750 Main Park Dr, Park Rapids, MN, USA

Itasca State Park Park Rapids Reviews

softtulips2007 softtuli…
2 reviews
Beauty and Peace Sep 29, 2010
This is a place that is very peaceful. They have bicycle rental, either electric or people powered. Kayak rental and canoe rental. It is a State Park in Minnesota and it is very beautiful. The headwaters of the Mississippi river are here. There is quite a bit to see here and native american culture to learn.
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alyssa_ob alyssa_ob
244 reviews
Headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi River Aug 04, 2008
Julie (pinchora) and I spent the morning at Itasca State Park, home of the headwaters of the Mississippi River. A short walk from the parking lot and you'll find yourself crossing a little bridge over a little stream. That little stream is the Mississippi and a couple hundred feet from the bridge is the actual headwaters. Some large rocks form a bridge across the headwaters that separate the river from Lake Itasca. The water at the headwaters is crystal clear, shallow and narrow.

We walked through but had a hard time trying to get a picture of the headwaters without a bunch of people in it. Many families were there and kids were playing all over and swimming in the lake. It was a gorgeous day and perfect for wading in the stream. We didn't drive through the park or hike on any of the trails since we were on a time crunch. I have been on several hiking and biking trails on previous visits and they are all pretty nice, but the highlight is definitely seeing the headwaters.

The visitor center has a nice outdoor display area with lots of information boards about the river and history of the area. They even have an outdoor movie but its near impossible to see the picture during the day. A large topographic map shows the river from headwater to mouth and points out major cities along the river.

Update June 1, 2015 - I have been to this park several times since writing this review. When I was there last weekend, the water was so high that the rocks were submerged! I have never seen the water so high! About a foot higher than the last time I was there! They got a lot of rain over the last few weeks and it was raining while there. As it was late on the last day of a holiday weekend (and raining), no one else was there. The water was high and flowing super fast. We didn't attempt to cross the rocks, nor did we wade. It was really cool to see! I've added some photos with the higher water now.
Headwaters sign
Julie wading
people crossing the headwaters
Julie and I (thanks photoshop!)
5 / 5 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
pinchora says:
congrats on the feature!!! This was a fun day!!!
Posted on: Aug 25, 2008
pinchora pinchora
162 reviews
Where the Mighty Mississippi River starts Aug 04, 2008
Itasca state park is home to where the Headwaters of the Mississippi river start. The interesting thing is is that the Mississippi river starts it's quest to the Gulf Of Mexico by heading north and then westward to it's southward embarkment. The headwaters were discovered by Henry Schoolcraft in 1832 and the Park was founded as a state park in 1891 by Jacob V. Brower who wanted to save the pine forest. The Mississippi river is started at the base of Lake Itasca which is a glacier lake...which means it was made by a glacier.

To enter the park you need a park pass that can be used in any of the 72 state parks in Minnesota. This pass is either a day pass, for $5, or an annual pass for $ if you plan on staying a week or so just get the annual pass.

The road into the park is very beautiful and the trees look like an over hanging canopy...even though they are pine with a mix of leafy trees.

Finding the headwaters was very easy to find as it is clearly marked and we walked the couple hundred feet to our destination. Depending on the day you go the area can be very vacant...but that was not the case today. It was headquarters for a kiddie romp. So it was hard to get a photo that looked like it was there just for me.

From looking at the photo's of the headwaters I thought it looked wider than what it really is...which is good because I thought it was going to be a tiney width so it brought the reality back down. Also, the river is so pure that the water looks crystal clear... it's truly amazing to walk and wade through!

We weren't here long so we didn't get to do much hiking but this park looks like it has amazing hiking facilities.
The post which states it all
Alyssa and I at where the Mississi…
Wait... Alyssa.. are you really wa…
Mississippi headwaters
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy

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photo by: alyssa_ob