Great River Road 01 - Lake Itasca, Mississippi River Headwaters

Start at the source!

Itasca State Park in Minnesota is the commonly-accepted headwaters of the Mississippi River. In a land full of lakes, streams, bogs and marshes I’m glad I wasn’t the one tasked with finding the source - but since that’s where all the marketing points to who are we to question?

Booking It

We booked it getting here - driving 871 miles in 2.5 days. It was a great drive (albeit rainy which killed our fresh wash and wax). We were exhausted so we booked three nights at the state park campground to give us time to recover.

Shoulder Season Camping

It’s the end of the season here and so most of the water is turned off with one spigot and the showerhouse still on. Somehow we managed to last on our tanks even though our last top-off was on Sunday and we left here on a Friday. Being 3 of us now rather than 4 definitely helps slow the water usage.

We nearly had the campground to ourselves with just a couple other rigs visible - but far enough off to not see them unless you were looking for them.

Mercurial Weather

We had good weather for about half of our stay with daytime temps in the upper 50s and nighttime temps in the high 30s to low 40’s.

Color!

The fall colors were amazing - right at 100%. We just couldn’t get enough of the views while driving around. I especially like the number of birch trees here - their white trunks add another dimension to the palette that we aren’t used to in Michigan.

Some Hiking, No Biking

Other than our formal visit to the headwaters we managed to get a couple hours of hiking in the woods. We would have like to get the bikes down (and try out the ‘70s Schwinn we just picked up in Michigan for MsBoyink) but with rain and a solid day of cold & gray it wasn’t worth the effort (especially now that I’m short my right-hand-help for the job).

Family photo with Lake Itasca in the background.

Family photo with Lake Itasca in the background.

MsBoyink spits in the Mississippi. It should come out the other end in 90 days.

MsBoyink spits in the Mississippi. It should come out the other end in 90 days.

Miranda takes the kickoff wade.

Miranda takes the kickoff wade.

The Boyink girls at Lake Itasca

The Boyink girls at Lake Itasca

MsBoyink crosses the rocks that divide Lake Itasca from the Mississippi River

MsBoyink crosses the rocks that divide Lake Itasca from the Mississippi River

Boyink makes his way across.

Boyink makes his way across.

Driving the park road - the color is breathtaking.

Driving the park road - the color is breathtaking.

Daddy and daughter at Lake Itasca

Daddy and daughter at Lake Itasca

Hiking in the Minnesota woods.

Hiking in the Minnesota woods.

I just liked the combination of color here.

I just liked the combination of color here.

The magic spot.

The magic spot.

The sign we'll be looking for as we drive.

The sign we'll be looking for as we drive.

Crossing the headwaters of the Mississippi.

Total Crossings

By the time we left the park we counted 12 total crossings of the Mississippi River.

Thumbs Up!

Or double thumbs-up even. We loved our stay here and would have loved to have stayed longer but the season and committments in Minneapolis are pulling us south. The other thumbs up was from a car waiting for us to make a turn - the first visible reaction to our new trailer branding.

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