The richness of the river’s resources attracts millions of recreational users annually. Studies conducted on the Upper Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Refuge have shown that this popular river refuge receives roughly the same annual visitation as Yellowstone National Park!
Recreationists on the Upper Mississippi River System exceed $1.2 billion annually in recreation-related expenses and support 2,000 jobs regionally. Recreation managers are striking a balance between promoting the use of the river and accommodating future recreational demand while protecting the river’s fish and wildlife resources.
- The National Visitor Survey: Visitor Experiences on National Wildlife Refuges
- Banking on Nature Report (PDF)
- Disturbance of Waterfowl by Boaters on Pool 4 of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge
UMR Watershed Canoe/Kayak Trail Information
The Upper Mississippi and its tributaries offer plenty of opportunities for many hours of paddling fun. Backwaters and tributary water trails provide a convenient way to reconnect with the wonders of nature. While the Ol’ Miss main channel and larger side channels are often dominated on weekends and holidays by powerboats throwing big waves, weekdays and evenings can be relatively quiet and offer an opportunity for a quick get-away in your kayak or canoe.
From short day trips to overnight adventures, the following links will help guide you to an appropriate water trail near you. No matter what your skill level, be sure to check out the canoe safety web pages so you can return home safe and sound to plan your next paddling experience.
St. Louis District COE
Mississippi River Water Trails
Upper Mississippi River & Illinois Waterway State Parks
Minnesota State Parks
- Afton State Park
- Fort Snelling State Park
- Frontenac State Park
- John Latsch State Park
- Great River Bluffs State Park
Iowa State Parks
- Yellow River State Forest
- Pikes Peak State Park
- Mines of Spain State Park
- Bellevue State Park
- Wildcat Den State Park
Missouri State Parks
Birding on the Upper Mississippi River
The Upper Mississippi River system is home to 326 bird species, which is 60% of all bird species in North America. Opportunities to bird watch along the river abound. Visit the state park websites above for birding information.
- Bird Checklist on the Upper Mississippi River NWR (PDF, 787KB)