Nature & Science

A small brown animal, known as the North American river otter, rests partially submerged in a creek.
This otter, spotted on Minnehaha Creek, is one of increasingly common sightings of this once rare species. Our research is helping us better understand their resurgence.

NPS/Gordon Dietzman


The Mississippi River is one of the world’s great rivers and one of the most complex ecosystems on the planet. It is also a defining feature of the North American continent and is home to a diverse collection of wildlife and plant life. In this section of our web site one can learn more about the nature of the park and the research we are conducting to protect it through informed policy decisions.


Mississippi River Facts

Did you know the Mississippi River watershed includes 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces? Or that at Lake Itasca, the Mississippi's source, the river is only 20-30 feet wide and can easily be walked across? Find out more interesting river facts and answers to your river-related questions.


We are mostly an urban/suburban park, but we have areas of forest and backwaters where few people visit. In addition, cities are becoming common places to find wildlife. The Mississippi River is also a major flyway so both resident and migratory birds are common. As a result, we have a wide variety of wildlife and much of our wildlife is easily watched.


Areas around rivers often have complex ecosystems and, as a result, are home to a wide variety of plants.

Last updated: February 4, 2021

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Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul , MN 55101


651 293-0200
This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

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