The Most Fascinating Places to Cross the Mississippi River

What’s so great about crossing the Mississippi River, you ask? Chances are you’ve traversed this 2,530-mile Midwest waterway plenty of times in your life, either by car, plane, boat or all three. And that’s no surprise, considering the river cuts through and borders 10 states, dividing the U.S. into unequal halves. But have you ever considered wading across it? Or, would you trust a crooked bridge to lead you safely to the other side? The Mighty Mississippi certainly lives up to its name, and now here’s your chance to learn about some of the best, least expected ways to cross it on your summer road trip!

Mississippi headwaters [Itasca State Park, Minnesota]

Itasca State Park, Minn. | Forget bridges. At Northern Minnesota’s Itasca State Park, you have one-of-a-kind opportunity to wade across the great North American river. 

Here, at its headwaters, you can hop along rocks that form a broken path across the nearly 30-foot-wide stream before the waterway turns into what you know as the Mighty Mississippi – which at one point reaches depths of 200 feet. The stepping stones may be fully or partly submerged, depending on the time of year you visit, as well as the amount of rainfall the area has received. The Mississippi River headwaters are one of the most popular attractions in the park, and are well worth the stop if you want to cross the river without the dangers of sweeping currents and or massive boats.

Chain of Rocks Bridge [St. Louis, Missouri]

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Chain of Rocks Bridge, St. Louis, Mo. | Perched over the Mississippi waters on the northern edge of St. Louis is the Chain of Rocks Bridge. This Missouri bridge was built in 1966 and served as a pathway along the Main Street of America – U.S. Route 66. 

The All-American roadway has since been redirected to the new Chain of Rock Road bridge while the original is used as a walking and biking route. Not only is the old Chain of Rocks Bridge a pristine example of Americana, it is also known for its distinct shape. The bridge was built with a 22-degree-angle bend near the middle in order to accommodate boats navigating the rocky river waters below. Incredibly photogenic, the Chain of Rock Bridge offers several vantage points of the Mississippi – and you can even see St. Louis’ landmark, the Gateway Arch!

Mud Island River Park [Memphis, Tennessee]

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Mud Island, Memphis, Tenn. | Did you ever think you could walk across the Mississippi River while you’re in Tennessee? At Mud Island River Park, you can! The Riverwalk is an exact scale model of the Lower Mississippi River – its journey from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico. 

The Riverwalk sits a few yards from the full-sized Mississippi River. Walk the nearly 1,000-mile journey in minutes without ever worrying about getting anything but your feet and ankles wet. This intricate Mississippi River model snakes its way through the park, for a total length of 2,000 feet, until it dumps out in an acre-sized Gulf of Mexico. 

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Lauren Elizondo

Autumn foliage, architectural decay, that feeling you get in your stomach when you speed over a dip in the road – these are just a few of Lauren Elizondo’s favorite things she’s had the chance to experience while traveling. When Lauren’s not writing about travel, she’s exploring … or at least daydreaming about her next journey. So far, she’s made some of her fondest memories on Lake Superior’s inspirational North Shore and while roadtripping through the Colorado Rockies.

Lauren’s Favorite Travel Tip: Don’t leave on your vacation without packing earplugs or a comfortable eye-mask – you’ll be so happy you did when you need them!

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