What Are The 10 States That Touch The Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is an integral part of the United States’ geographical landscape and has been for centuries. The mighty river begins in Lake Itasca in Minnesota and meanders more than 2,300 miles to reach the Gulf of Mexico. Its long journey takes the river through 10 states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. All 10 states hold unique cultural attractions, which are made even more special thanks to the presence of the Mississippi River.

Minnesota has a large area of the headwaters of the Mississippi River. It is particularly revered for its wild beauty, which can be experienced in one of the many incredible state parks. Notable among these is the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, which offers access to many outdoor recreation opportunities.

Wisconsin is particularly well-known for the city of La Crosse, which is located on the banks of the Mississippi River and is the largest city in the state. Tourists enjoy the many city attractions, from its National Historic Landmark Architecture to its lively music scene.

Iowa is almost completely bisected by the Mississippi River. This makes it a popular sailing destination—tourists can leisurely voyage down the river and take in the stunning views along the banks. The most famous city found along this section is Dubuque, a lively and inviting city.

Illinois has the largest portion of the Mississippi River Watershed that is accessible to the public. There are many state and regional parks offering access to the banks of the river and many interesting places to explore. Marion, the “City of the Grand Tower,” is perhaps the most famous of these.

Missouri is home to the mighty Mississippi River and its many historic sites. In St. Louis, tourists get to explore the iconic Gateway Arch, a National Historic Landmark, as well as many other attractions like the Missouri Botanical Garden, The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

Kentucky is the farthest upstream state on the Mississippi River, and it has a tremendous cultural history. Among its many attractions is the Louisville Slugger Museum, the Mammoth Cave National Park, the Lexington Cemetery and the Spalding Hall of Fame Museum.

Tennessee is known for its culture, and there is much to see along the banks of the Mississippi. Memphis is one of the most popular cities and is home to eclectic attractions like Graceland, the Memphis Zoo and the Mississippi River Museum.

Arkansas is known as the Natural State and people flock to marvel at its many natural beauty spots. There are many state parks along the banks of the Mississippi, including the beautiful and historically significant Mississippi River Oxbow State Park.

The Mississippi River is known for closely connecting Mississippi and Louisiana. Both states are known for Mardi Gras festivities and other vibrant festivals, as well as many outdoor recreational opportunities. In Mississippi, travelers can experience the slow pace of the river’s life at Natchez Trace State Park, while in Louisiana, they can explore the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Refuge.

Natural Landmarks

The ancestral home of the Mississippi River, Minnesota boasts some truly breathtaking landscapes. Visitors can take a stroll around Itasca State Park, the epicenter of the river, or take part in one of the many water activities available here and in the rest of the region. Boats are particularly popular and can often be seen cruising up and down the river. For those who prefer to stay on land, there is the stunning Great River Road, which weaves its way along both sides of the river through all 10 states.

In addition to the natural attractions, there are also many extraordinary sites of human interventions to be seen along the banks of the Mississippi. From the architectural masterpieces of New Orleans to the musically-inspired city of St. Louis, each state that touches the Mississippi River has something special to offer its visitors.

The natural beauty of the region is enhanced by the many wildlife reserves located along the Mississippi River. The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, for example, is a great spot to observe the many species of birds that migrate along the river. There are also a number of national parks and nature reserves that are perfect for those seeking a truly unforgettable outdoor experience.

The majestic Mississippi River is also home to many of the most important cultural sites in the United States. It is here that tourists can experience the diverse mix of ethnicities, religions, and social conditions that have been a staple of American life ever since Europeans first set foot on the continent.

Economic Impact

The Mississippi River is an incredibly important economic resource for the states that it passes through. The waterway is an integral part of transportation and commercial trade, connecting different regions for centuries now. In fact, the river is still a major transportation route for many goods, particularly agricultural products. The river is also a source of recreation, with its many fishing spots, camping sites, and water-based activities.

The Mississippi River has also made a huge social impact on the region. For centuries, the river has nurtured communities, bringing new people and new ideas to the area. It has connected people from different backgrounds and provided them with a shared experience and shared interests.

The Mississippi River has also been a major source of environmental conservation efforts in the region. Many of the states along the river have worked hard to protect the natural resources of the area. This has been done through initiatives such as wetland restoration and creating national parks and wildlife refuges. These efforts have helped to preserve the unique beauty and ecology of the river.

Environmental Challenges

Despite the many positive contributions of the Mississippi River, the area is still faces many environmental challenges. Pollution, for example, is a major issue that needs to be addressed. Dry spells can also affect water levels, leading to difficulties for navigation on the river. Climate change is another major threat, raising the possibility of floods and droughts that could further impact the area.

In addition to the environmental issues, the Mississippi River is also at risk of breaches and other damages due to levee and dam construction. Extracting water from the river has put additional strain on the ecological and economic balance of the region. As such, it is important to ensure that governments are doing all they can to protect and preserve the Mississippi River.

Social Impact

The Mississippi River is important not just to the environment, but to the people and cultural structures of the region as well. The river has been an integral part of the culture and identity of the states that it touches, providing them with a shared experience and shared symbolism. It has also been a symbol of freedom and opportunity, with many people using the river to escape slavery and poverty.

The Mississippi River is also a major tourist attraction, drawing travelers from all over the globe. It is a place where people from all backgrounds can marvel at the beauty and might of the river, and connect with the many different societies and cultures that it touches.

Today, the Mississippi River is still an important part of the identity and culture of the region. It is for this reason that it is so important to protect and conserve the river, ensuring that the area and its people and cultures can continue to thrive.


The Mississippi River has been an integral part of the United States both geographically and culturally. Its long journey takes it through 10 states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Each of these states holds unique attractions, many of which are made even more special thanks to the presence of the river. The river is an important economic resource, a source of environmental conservation efforts, and a symbol of freedom, opportunity, and shared history. It is an incredible natural landmark that should be both celebrated and protected.

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.

Leave a Comment