What States Are Among The Mississippi River

Originating in Minnesota, the Mississippi River is the second longest river in the United States. Its long course cuts through ten states in the heart of America, providing a rich history, a deep and heady culture, and a natural beauty that just can’t be found anywhere else. From Minnesota to Louisiana, the Mississippi is a national treasure — and there’s a lot more to it than just being a big river.

For starters, the Mississippi River is actually the largest drainage basin in the United States, covering an area of about 1.2 million square miles. That’s 41 percent of the United States, with nearly 3,240 miles of shoreline, nearly two-thirds of which are within the U.S. borders. In terms of its size, the Mississippi is second only to the Amazon River.

So, what states are along the Mississippi River? The states on this list almost make up a road trip: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Each of these states has its own unique blend of cuisines, attractions, and landscapes — all of which have been heavily influenced by life along the Mississippi.

Let’s start with Minnesota, the origin of the river. Most people think of ice fishing, snowmobiling, and locally brewed beer when this state is discussed, but its sheer popularity shouldn’t come as a surprise. Minnesota’s vibrant state parks and vibrant cities, such as Minneapolis and St. Paul, draw visitors from all over. It also has a wealth of historical sites and unique recreational opportunities, from exploring the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to watching the southbound migration at Hawk Ridge.

Wisconsin, the next state on the list, is known for its dairy production, outdoor activities, and diverse ethnic cultures. It’s home to some of the country’s richest farmland, and, as a result, produces more than 15 billion pounds of cheese each year. Adventure seekers can head to the Superior National Forest for hiking, fishing, skiing, and more.

Iowa is the third state along the Mississippi River, and it is known as the “Land Between Two Rivers,” due to its location between the Des Moines and the Mississippi. This state has a strong agricultural industry, as well as a proud progressive history. It also hosts nearly 30 state parks and a surprising number of wineries and breweries.

Illinois is the fourth state along the Mississippi. The state is known for its bustling urban areas, such as Chicago, as well as its charming rural towns. It boasts cutting-edge museums, historic buildings, and a rich culture, from jazz music to famous food from hot dogs to Italian beef sandwiches.

Let’s take a closer look at two more states along the Mississippi River. Missouri is a busy mix of prairies, peaks and valleys, and it’s also home to a wilderness known as the Ozarks. Its rural beauty, outdoor activities, and cultural attractions make this a great destination for a family vacation. Lastly, Louisiana is the mouth of the Mississippi, and it’s a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds. Its stunning coastline, vibrant cities such as New Orleans, and bayous filled with alligators and crawfish offer a unique setting that can’t be found anywhere else.

Economic Impact of the Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is the engine that drives the economy of many states along its path. For example, it is responsible for about $4.4 billion of Minnesota’s Gross State Product, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
It provides jobs for all eleven states, from tourism and transportation to fishing and farming, and is also a primary transportation route for agricultural goods, such as corn and soybeans, from the Midwest. This is why many businesses, such as PepsiCo and Cargill, have invested heavily in the infrastructure of ports along the river.

The river also has direct and indirect roles in the distribution of energy, chemicals, and supplies. It is the primary water supply for many states, supplying lakes, reservoirs, and aquifers. This makes it essential to the sustainability of the region, especially in times of drought.

Environmental Impact of the Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is a fragile ecosystem that must be protected from pollution and other threats. Throughout the history of its development, the river has been subject to pollutants, contaminated runoff, and the introduction of foreign species. One of the main environmental threats to the river is runoff from cities and farmlands, which can introduce toxic chemicals and nutrients into the water.

In response, conservationists in the region have fought to rejuvenate the river through restoration and protection efforts. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has set up regulations for wastewater release and created buffer zones for new developments along the river’s shorelines. They have also worked to create wetlands and reduce toxic runoff. The Army Corps of Engineers has implemented the Natural Resources Management Plan, which controls construction and regulates waterways, in order to preserve and restore the river.

The EPA has also enacted a number of regulations in the form of the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, to help ensure the rivers natural resources are protected and maintained. These regulations are designed to reduce pollution and protect ecosystems, while still allowing industries to operate and communities to grow.

Impact of Wetlands Expansion

The wetlands of the Mississippi River are incredibly important for the entire region, providing a home for a wide variety of plants and animals. There has been a significant effort in the past few decades to expand wetlands along the Mississippi. This has been done through the Mississippi River Basin Wetlands Program, which has increased the area of wetlands from 4,500 acres to more than 20,000 acres since its inception.

This wetland expansion has greatly benefitted the local wildlife, as well as improving the water quality in the area by helping to filter out pollutants. Additionally, it provides a number of recreational opportunities for people to enjoy, such as fishing and canoeing. The wetlands have also served as a buffer against the damaging effects of Climate Change, providing refuge for species threatened by rising temperatures and extreme weather conditions.

The expanded wetlands are also helping to stabilize riverbanks and reduce flooding. This stabilization helps reduce the damage done to homes and infrastructure near the river, and can also help to reduce substance and mud runoff that could potentially damage other ecosystems.

The Role of the Mississippi River in Aborginial and Indigenous Cultures

The Mississippi River is an important part of aboriginal and indigenous history in this region. For thousands of years, groups such as the Dakota, Lakota, and Ojibwe have lived along the banks of the Mississippi, relying on the river for food, water, and transportation. The river is deeply intertwined with their cultures, with many of their spiritual and cultural practices centered around the river.

Unfortunately, with the arrival of European settlers, the land was taken away from the original inhabitants, and the river was abused and polluted. This had a devastating effect on the aboriginal and indigenous peoples, and many of their traditional practices were lost.

Today, however, there are organizations and individuals working to preserve and re-establish indigenous and aboriginal cultures along the Mississippi River. Several groups, such as the Dakota Community, work to protect and restore traditional sites along the river, as well as to raise awareness of the culture and history of these people.

The Mississippi River is also an important part of the educational system in the region, with many schools teaching courses about the cultural and environmental history of the river. This is important for helping to develop a sense of appreciation for the river and its role in the local culture, which can help to ensure its protection and preservation.


The Mississippi River is an essential part of many states in the United States. From its economic contribution and cultural influence, to its environmental importance, the river has been an integral part of life in the region for thousands of years. It is up to us to ensure that this important asset is protected and preserved, so that future generations can continue to enjoy its beauty, history, and culture.

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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