Great River Road 03 - Grand Rapids, MN

It’s In Minnesota’s Nature

This was actually a repeat for us as we had overnighted at the Grand Rapids, MN Walmart on our way into the Mississippi River headwaters (pro-tip - avoid parking next to the Garden Center as there is a recording of a large bird or owl that plays every 20 seconds).

Um, Rapids?

Don’t go looking for the rapids which the town is named after - they’re hidden under a dam behind a large paper mill near the downtown area.

Judy Garland

If you are a Wizard of Oz fan you probably know that Grand Rapids, MN is the birth town of one Judy Garland. There is a museum and a restored birthplace which we drove past but did not visit.

Kinda Familiar

We are from Holland, MI which is close to Grand Rapids, MI. We have been saying this city name and seeing it on signs all of our lives - so it was odd to see it in another state. I even noticed we were listening to a rock radio station at 96.9 on our way in - which is the same frequency as the WLAV out of Grand Rapids, MI that I listened to so much growing up. 

I will say that at least in Michigan we didn’t cover up our namesake rapids with a dam for a paper mill…;)

Yet Kinda Odd

We rolled back into Grand Rapids past-due for lunch and just assumed there would be a nice park along the river to do that. We went downtown, found the river and…nothing. We crossed the river and followed a sign for ‘river access’ that led to a odd small parking lot around what looked like a gas meter and spot through the brush just big enough to slip a canoe into the Mississippi.

There was no room for an RV though so I had to back up the trailer into an apartment complex drive way to get out.

Down the road we found a small roadside park that had riverside sidewalks and a few benches but the view of the river was mostly blocked by landscaping.

It almost felt like the town largely wanted to ignore the river, or was a bit ashamed at letting the paper mill obscure the namesake rapids.

The Big Fish Supper Club (just outside Grand Rapids) was in the opening credits for the movie Vacation with Chevy Chase

The Big Fish Supper Club (just outside Grand Rapids) was in the opening credits for the movie Vacation with Chevy Chase

I snagged this off YouTube..

I snagged this off YouTube..

Once you find it, the Mississippi is quite pretty in Grand Rapids.

Once you find it, the Mississippi is quite pretty in Grand Rapids.

Our lunchtime stop in Grand Rapids, MN

Our lunchtime stop in Grand Rapids, MN

Another Drive-Thru

After a quick lunch in Grand Rapids we headed back down the Great River Road towards a campground we selected for an overnight stay. We hear tell of running water and laundry facilities so have to go see.

Total Crossings

By the time we had left Grand Rapids we had crossed the Mississippi River 18 times.

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