More about the Mississippi River: Vermillion River to Palisade

Mississippi River

Water characteristics - check the river level report.
The Mississippi is flat and slow moving in this river section, dominated by pine forests and the town of Grand Rapids. Two dams, located about three river miles apart, capture the river's fall, and demonstrate the former size of the rapids.

Landscape - From Blackberry to its confluence with Splithand Creek, hills border the Mississippi River on both shores. The river connects the mixed hardwood-conifer forests of red, white, and jack pines, quaking aspen, big-toothed aspen, paper birches and oaks, found on high ground, with pine and hardwood forests found on low lying areas.

Below Grand Rapids the Mississippi is fairly shallow and wide as it flows through glacial moraine. River banks in this area are sandy and often unstable, and the river bottom is predominantly sand and gravel. The narrow flood plain is vegetated with lowland hardwoods, primarily ash and elm, while the uplands are covered by a mixture of jack pine, aspen and balsam fir.

Mississippi River

Fish and wildlife - The large continuous forested area, adjacent river and wetlands, and cutover areas offering new growth, attract ruffed grouse, white-tailed deer and timber wolves. Dead trees and snags standing in the forest provide shelter for wood ducks, mergansers, owls, raccoons and even black bears. The forest also attracts a variety of birds, including water birds and song birds.

Water quality is clean enough for bodily contact and to support an excellent sport fishery. Thirty to forty species of fish live in the river, including northern pike, walleye and smallmouth bass. The river's oxbows are used by fish for spawning.

The Minnesota Department of Health has guidelines for consuming fish taken from Minnesota's lakes and rivers. Go to the Fish Consumption Advisory Page to find out more.

Mississippi River

Cultural Information - By the 1870s loggers were active in the forests north of Grand Rapids. With the laying of the Great Northern Railroad tracks in 1892, the city became a major lumbering center. But by 1910 the vast northern forests had been cleared and the lumber industry faded, to be replaced decades later by the taconite industry.