Take an RV vacation along the great Mississippi River, traveling the Great River Road from Minneapolis to the Iowa border. The landscapes are sights that early explorers witnessed on their travels north. You won’t have the same kinds of adventures these pioneers experienced (Indians, wild animals and the like) but your excursion will still offer plenty of culture, outdoor recreation and relaxation. The best time to go is between April and November.
RV camping is available at Town & Country RV Park and Campground, where the amenities are wonderful. They have a heated pool, and 80 campsites to choose from. Minneapolis is the center of much art, history and beauty. Tour the city before continuing on your journey, as you won’t want to miss the attractions here in this marvelous city on the river. To carry on, take US 61 out of Minneapolis but not before you stop at Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Here you will find a 72-mile park with places to fish, launch a boat or canoe, or do some hiking.
Further along on your trip, you can explore the Pierce County Islands State Public Hunting Grounds, extending into Wisconsin. Then travel along the shores of Lake Pepin where you can throw in a line and catch (perhaps) your trophy catch. You can also boat on this lake. If you love watching wild birds, Frontenac State Park is the spot to stop. In the spring and fall the migrating birds create a sight to behold. You can also hike this wooded valley, fish or swim.
Wildlife viewing couldn’t be better than at Hok-Si-La Municipal Park, just north of Lake City and along the shores of Lake Pepin. Walk along the sandstone bluffs, enjoy the scenic views and be sure to try your hand at sailing these sparkling waters. You can also hike, swim or just walk the beach. The Mississippi Bluffs are a place to reflect and unwind.
The nature around the Mississippi River is the best part of a trip along the river through Minnesota. Outdoor recreation is incredible here, like at the Nelson-Trevino Bottoms State Natural Area. Take off into the wilderness on a backpacking adventure. Do some rock climbing. In the fall, hunting is wonderful here. Further down your route, you can stop at the Wabasha Overlook to look out over the Mississippi and forested hills.
There are over 3,000 acres of wooded landscapes at the McCarthy Lake State Wildlife Management Area, which give you the feeling you are in the past, a traveler of distant lands, heading west and just now discovering the treasures of this great land. Early explorers viewed these lands as you see them today.
To get a wide view of the Mississippi River Valley, you can stop at John Latsch State Park. These are acres of lush green forest in the summer and incredible autumn colors in the fall months. Plenty of wildlife wander these 1,605 acres, such as fox, white tailed deer, coyotes and opossum. For another wildlife experience, you can visit the Upper Mississippi Wild Life and Fish Refuge near Wabasha. The confluence of the Chippeawa and Mississippi Rivers hold wonders like you’ve never experienced. You will see islands, marshes and wooded beauty.
The Great River Bluffs State Park offers a wide variety of trees, such as oaks and maples, pines and hickory trees. Try and catch a glimpse of some wild turkeys, coyotes or ruffed grouse in the hardwood forests, and on the prairie lands you will see lizards and perhaps a bobolink or two. The amazing red-tailed hawks are often seen soaring overhead.
Finally you will find US 61 merge with Interstate 90 along the shores of Lake Onalaska and you will have even more opportunities at some recreational pleasures. There are seven boat landings on the lake and the fishing is wonderful. You can catch some walleye, northern pike or smallmouth or largemouth bass. There are lots of panfish too!
Get back on Highway 61 and continue to La Crescent, MN, known as the Apple Capital. You’ll simply have to stock up on the sweet fruit so it will provide great and healthy snacking for the rest of your trip. In La Crescent, you will take Highway 16 south to Highway 26 and continue your journey to the Iowa State line, south of La Crosse, MN.
You have reached the end of your trek, but your journey doesn’t have to stop here. You can find your way back up this wonderful Great River Road and stop at any of the places that you passed up before. There is plenty to see and do in Minnesota, and you don’t want to miss a bit!