Can You Travel The Whole Length Of The Mississippi River

Many people who visit or live by the Mississippi river dream of one day traveling the entire length of the river. But, is it even possible? Can you really travel the whole length of the Mississippi River? Let’s explore this fascinating topic and try to answer this intriguing question.

The river begins its journey at the northern end of Minnesota in Lake Itasca and winds more than 2,320 miles southward into the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. Largely considered America’s greatest river, it passes through ten states and serves as a main source of water for many of them, including Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

For many, the dream of traveling the Mississippi River is only possible by boat. Breezing through the protected state parkland, travelers can enjoy the river’s natural beauty along with the many historical sites, cultural attractions, and recreational activities that enhance the journey. Boating along the Mississippi River is one of the best ways to experience the pride and joy of America’s heartland and all it has to offer.

Common excuses for not traveling the Mississippi River include safety or the cost. However, in reality, the Mississippi is relatively safe for experienced travelers.

The river has a number of navigational aides and maps that help travelers phrase their way through the tricky parts. Moreover, if boaters travel along the main channel, they can find plenty of help with launch ramps, locks, boat ramps and more. For beginners, some of the more popular routes are well-marked, open and easy to navigate with a motorboat, kayak, or other vessel.

The cost of traveling the Mississippi River can vary depending on your budget and type of vessel, but the expenses don’t have to be prohibitive. Travelers can make use of cheap camping options and many of the cities along the river have reasonably priced accommodations. Moreover, one can find ways to make the trip more economical by planning in advance.

River Valley Landscapes

Mississippi River travelers of all types can experience some of the best river valley landscapes in the United States. After its incredible 2,320-mile journey from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico, the river yields its grand finale in the Big Easy—New Orleans. The city offers a unique atmosphere to travelers along with a plethora of historic and cultural attractions.

Heading downstream from New Orleans, the river passes through Baton Rouge, Memphis, Vicksburg, and many small towns and fishing villages all the way to St. Louis, Missouri. Along the way, one will get to pass through beautiful woodlands, meandering marshes, and large swamplands.

Those looking to enjoy a relaxed river tour should plan to take a trip through the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, which runs between St. Paul, Minnesota and St. Louis, Missouri. This area is home to numerous parks and conservation areas, most of which are open to the public and provide excellent views of the amazing and diverse landscapes found along the Mississippi River.

No matter the starting point, travelers interested in taking a trip down the Mississippi are sure to experience an amazing journey that is filled with historic sites, breathtaking scenery, and plenty of interesting experiences.

Grand Excursion

For those looking for something a little more daring, there’s the Grand Excursion, a special river journey with a unique objective—to explore the motivations, histories, and cultures of the regions along the Mississippi. Organized by Explorer’s Club of St. Louis, the journey starts in St. Paul and winds through the Mississippi River Valley, ending in Natchez, Mississippi.

The Grand Excursion is perfect for travelers looking for a cultural and educational experience, as it offers a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors and locals alike. The journey takes about a month to complete and is an excellent way for travelers to get to know the people and places the Mississippi River has to offer.

However, not all travelers want to embark on a journey of such intensity. If you’re just looking for a short getaway, there are plenty of options as well. Weekend excursions and day trips are a great way to get a taste of what the Mississippi River has to offer and can even be done on a budget.


Travelers without the proper equipment and time can enjoy river trips with the help of riverboat cruises. Available all along the river, cruises range from affordable day trips to luxury weekend getaways. Whatever your budget, you’ll be able to find a cruise that suits your interests and time frame.

Popular Mississippi cruises include the Grand River Cruise, which departs from Redwing, MN and takes travelers to St. Paul, MN for a roundtrip ride of about two hours. Other itineraries include cruises from Helena to Memphis, Tennessee, as well as from St. Louis to St. Paul, Minnesota.

Riverboat cruises provide a great way to experience the Mississippi River without a lot of hassle. With cozy cabins and delicious food, you’ll be able to kick back and relax while you take in the beauty of the river and its surrounding areas. Plus, with many cruises featuring onboard entertainment, you won’t have to worry about getting bored.


Whether you choose to embark on a boat trip or are looking to just stay along the banks of the Mississippi River, there are a wide range of accommodations available to suit your needs. From riverside inns and cozy cabins to luxury resorts, there’s something to fit every budget and flavor.

In addition, campers have access to a number of campsites peppered along the river. These are the perfect option for those looking for a nature-filled adventure and outdoor fun. Some of the most popular campsites can be found in the New Orleans area.

From national parks and nature reserves to urbanized areas and historic towns, the Mississippi River offers travelers a collection of sites to see and experiences to enjoy. The choices are seemingly endless and just waiting for you to explore. So yes, you can travel the whole length of the Mississippi River.


The Mississippi River is full of fascinating sights for travelers to take in. From the hustle and bustle of the city to the serene beauty of the country, travelers can enjoy a unique experience at each port of call along the river.

Popular stops along the river include the small town of Dubuque, Iowa, with its picturesque views and lively waterfront district, as well as the state capital of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Don’t forget to enjoy the vibrant city life and culture of New Orleans. Whatever type of experience you’re looking for, you’re sure to find something to marvel at when touring the Mississippi River.

If you’re looking for something a bit more authentic, consider a visit to the historic town of Hannibal, Missouri. Made famous by Mark Twain’s classic works, the town offers a glimpse back into a simpler time, along with street performance and plenty of Twain-inspired attractions. Other popular tourist spots include Fort Madison, Iowa, and Dubuque, Iowa.

River Highlights

Flexible travelers who want to experience the highlights of the Mississippi River during their journey can benefit from a road trip. By taking the backroads and avoiding urban centers, you can find hidden gems and experience the beauty and tranquility of the rural countryside.

Some of the highlights along the route include: Madison County, Iowa, a small town with a unique history and culture, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, a charming river town known for its rustic charm and wineries, and Davenport, Iowa, a city that boasts numerous attractions, museums, and gardens.

Road trips along the Mississippi River also provide a great opportunity to visit America’s beloved national parks. Travelers can explore the intriguing history and culture of the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota, the mysterious terrain of the Ozark National Forest in Missouri, and the breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, just to name a few.

Overall, there are a variety of ways to explore the history, culture, and beauty of the Mississippi River. Regardless of the length of your journey, you’ll be sure to come away with an unforgettable experience that will stay with you for years to come.

Raymond Strasser is a passion-driven writer and researcher, dedicated to educating readers on the topic of world rivers. With a background in Geography and Environmental Studies, Raymond provides insightful pieces which explore the impact and importance that rivers have around the world.

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