The legendary Mississippi River has inspired Americans for hundreds of years. Great American authors like Mark Twain and environmentalists like Winona Deluke have found their purpose in it’s flowing waters. The world-renown river starts right here in the great state of Minnesota, and flows through nine others on its journey down to the Gulf of Mexico, where it finally meets the open ocean.
Commune with nature and soak in the inspiration of the Mississippi River yourself this summer in each of the ten states the river flows through. M&G Trailer Sales and Service put together a list of some of the best campgrounds along the Mississippi River to help guide you through your expedition.
Begin your journey where the river begins its own, right here in Minnesota. The mighty river flows 2,350 miles from its beginning at Itasca State Park to the Gulf of Mexico. Itasca State Park is Minnesota’s oldest state park, established in 1891. The park offers a look at Minnesota’s wildlife and a journey through history when you walk the same path Native Americans hunted 8,000 years ago.
Camp, hike and explore Pikes Peak State Park. The park sits along the Mississippi, where the river signifies the border between Iowa and Wisconsin. This park is perfect for hiking with over 11 miles of trails, and relaxing with scenic overviews where the Wisconsin River meets the Mississippi. Walk the half mile trail to Bridal Veil falls or wander wooded paths to admire Iowa’s flourishing plant life. Whatever you choose, be sure to hike to Point Anne for a beautiful overview of the river and a glimpse of Wisconsin on the other side of the water.
Nestled along the Mississippi, just south of its meeting with the Wisconsin River, Nelson Dewey State park is another amazing stop. The state park offers plenty of hiking trails and picnic areas. While canoeing, kayaking and fishing aren’t allowed in the park, nearby Riverside Park in Cassville offers all three. Inside Nelson Dewey’s borders, hunting and trapping are allowed. There are plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities and beautiful views along the streams and valleys that flow through the park.
Ditch the Windy City for the open skies and breathtaking wildlife Illinois has to offer on its western edge. The remote Big River State Forest campground sits about two miles from the river where it acts as a border between Illinois and Iowa. The forest offers fishing, hunting and hiking opportunities. You can even bring your horse to trot along the firebreaks, or contact the park rangers about horse rentals. Don’t forget to visit the chirping birds and fresh air of the nearby Mark Twain Wildlife Refuge. You’ll leave with a better understanding of how this river inspired him so.
A little further south, the Mississippi River becomes the border between Illinois and Missouri. While the natural beauty of this park is remarkable, the history found here is the main attraction. Along the infamous Trail of Tears, a trail walked by Native American tribes being forcibly relocated in the mid-1800s, this park offers a solemn look at US history. After stopping by the park Visitor Center to better understand this tragic chapter of our history, relax and reflect in the park itself. Campers and visitors alike can enjoy horse and hiking trails, shady picnic areas and fishing opportunities in the great Mississippi River itself.
The park sits along the Kentucky Great River Road, where you can find exciting events in the four Kentucky counties that border the Mississippi River. The river cliff campground provides expansive views and warm breezes blowing from the water. Aside from the wonders of the Mississippi, the park also hosts the Civil War Museum. The museum ventures through the history of America’s bloodiest war, and the building itself was once used as a Civil War hospital.
While not directly on the river, the park makes up for it with its close proximity to Memphis, Tennessee. It was the first state park open to African Americans east of the Mississippi, and is named after a prominent African American community leader. Fuller State Park sits along McKellar Lake, which is supplied by the Mississippi. The park is the perfect mix of peaceful nature and bustling city. Only 15 minutes from downtown Memphis, it’s easy to hear the music of Elvis Presley’s Graceland and drink in the cocktails along Beale Street. Stretch your legs along the morning hiking trails and get a taste of Memphis’ best restaurants in the evening hour when you stay at T.O. Fuller State Park.
The next stop along the Mississippi is Lake Chicot, the largest oxbow lake in North America. An oxbow lake is formed where a river used to bend, but the flow of water is no longer connected. While Lake Chicot may not be connected to the Mississippi River today, it flowed as part of the river over 600 years ago. Today, the park and lake are known for birdwatching as it’s situated in one of the largest flyways in the country. Stop in the Lake Chicot Visitor Center to learn about the wildlife you might encounter during your stay, then cool off in the campground pool and grab a snack at the park store. With birdwatching opportunities and a bait store nearby, you’ll be sure to glimpse all types of creatures surviving thanks to the river’s bountiful resources.
As the river winds its way further south, we come to its namesake state – Mississippi. The state park lies 10 miles north of historic Natchez, the oldest settlement on the Mississippi River. Historic mansions from pre-Civil War America stand watch over the city. While the architecture and history can’t be missed, the real attraction of the park is the fishing. Natchez Lake is known for its abundant fish population; the largest bass in Mississippi history was caught in the lake. The 18.5-pound largemouth bass was caught in 1992, and has yet to be beat!
Finally reaching the end of its cross-country journey, the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico and the waters flow out to open ocean. Stumpf’s is a family-owned RV park in Venice, Louisiana, where the state really begins to fraction off into a series of islands. The Stumpf family, who own the park, will point you toward the best local gems, according to campground reviewers. Roughly an hour and a half from New Orleans, the park offers some city access, while remaining pretty remote. The RV park mostly consists of concrete slabs and electrical hookups, but you’re really there to soak up the Louisiana swamp sunshine and breathe the salty Gulf air.
Ten states later, the river finishes it’s 2,000-mile journey. The river flows from the highlands of Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the lowlands of the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. The great river has inspired generations of Americans to write, paint and sing. It supports furry, feathered and fishy wildlife every mile. The Mississippi River is one of America’s greatest natural wonders, and M&G Trailer Sales and Service is honored to know it starts in our own Land of 10,000 Lakes.