Shell Rock River segments and maps

Map: Shell Rock River

The Shell Rock River begins at the outlet of Albert Lea Lake and flows 113 miles to the Mississippi River, joining the Cedar and Iowa rivers along the way. This warm, gentle stream was named for the fossilized shells found along its banks.

This river offers additional opportunities for boating, fishing and bird watching on Fountain Lake. In Minnesota, the Shell Rock River State Water Trail travels 20 miles through Freeborn County from the headwaters at Fountain Lake to the Iowa border.

The river has no major rapids and few elevational changes. This is a true prairie river, where paddlers will experience a pleasant meander through wetlands, upland slopes and tallgrass prairies. Anglers may enjoy casting a line for black bullhead, bluegills, channel catfish, crappies and walleye.

Hazards include dams and a low bridge. Be sure to know portage locations.

Recommended day trip

Explore Albert Lea Lake

  • Put-in and take-out at one of three accesses on Albert Lea Lake.
  • Trip length varies, as this route is on the lake only.

Albert Lea Lake borders city parks and Myre-Big Island State Park, with opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, picnicking and more. The northwest corner of the lake is the most developed, while areas to the southeast are a patchwork of forest, wetlands and agricultural land.

Explore on shore

Myre-Big Island State Park

This state park has plenty of opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing and paddling.

Blazing Star State Trail

Plan a pedal/paddle adventure! This state trail starts in the city of Albert Lea and travels six miles through town and Myre-Big Island State Park.

Wildlife and Aquatic Management Areas (WMAs)

Enjoy wildlife viewing and fishing opportunities at the Shell Rock WMA and the Shell Rock Unit of the Panicum Prairie WMA.

Local contacts

Rice Lake area office
8485 Rose Street, Owatonna, MN 55060

Nearest medical facilities

Mayo Clinic Health System
404 West Fountain Street, Albert Lea, MN 56007

Clouds reflected in the Shell Rock River
Clouds reflected in the Shell Rock River.


Flat water and a bridge
Flat water and a bridge.


Shell Rock River area map

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