University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

What sets this area apart from others along the river?

Its status as a National Park.

The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area covers 72 miles in the Twin Cities Area and beyond, from Ramsey to Ravenna. Most of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus is included in the park boundaries – in other words, our school is in a National Park.

What parks can I walk to from campus?

Father Hennepin Bluffs Park/Main Street

The Main Street area has a significance going back centuries. Indigenous cultures, industrial and commercial development, and modern urban life all play key roles in its history.
Tags: Historical, Destination, Walkable and bikeable from campus.

Lock and Dam No. 1

Lock and Dam No. 1 is one of the steps in the “stairway of water” on the Mississippi River that makes possible the travel of barges from St. Anthony to the Gulf of Mexico.
Tags: Scientific, Navigation, Bikeable from campus.

Mill Ruins Park

Mill Ruins Park contains ruins of a mill, canals, and tailraces. It allows for a glimpse into the infrastructure of milling operations, located beautifully underneath and next to the Stone Arch Bridge and other historic mills.
Tags: Historical, Cultural, Destination, Walkable and bikeable from campus.

Stone Arch Bridge

Just south of St. Anthony Falls is the Stone Arch Bridge, connecting modern-day Main Street to the Warehouse District. Today it is a pedestrian bridge, but it was originally built for railroad transportation.
Tags: Historical, Destination, Walkable and bikeable from campus.

St. Anthony Falls

The best view of St. Anthony Falls is purportedly from the viewing station of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam, but any view of this historic waterfall is incredible. The Falls have played an important role throughout the history of the area, as both a spiritual center and industrial power source among other things.
Tags: Historical, Destination, Walkable and bikeable from campus.

Bohemian Flats

Towards the end of the 19th century and into the 20th, Bohemian Flats was a residential area occupied primarily by recent immigrants. A hundred years ago it was described as being similar to an Old World Village, but today it is known as the field that is visible from the East and West Bank, beneath the Washington Avenue Bridge.
Tags: Historical, Destination, Walkable from campus.

Where can I go for an afternoon?

Fort Snelling State Park and Historic Fort Snelling

Both Fort Snelling State Park and Historic Fort Snelling are located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers and provide for a variety of recreational activities from hiking, biking and swimming, to investigations of history and culture.
Tags: Historical, Natural, Destination, Accessible via light rail transit.

Minnehaha Park

Minnehaha Park offers a variety of attractions to visitors, recreationally and historically. The Minnehaha Falls and trails around it are scenic and easy to explore, while the Longfellow House provides an interesting culture and history interpretation, as well as information about Minneapolis Parks.
Tags: Historical, Natural, Destination, Accessible via Light Rail Transit.

Where can I ride my bike along the river?

Bike Trails

Minneapolis has an extensive series of bike trails that go through campus.  Of particular interest is the Grand Rounds, which covers 50 miles of bike trails along the Mississippi River, the Chain of Lakes, and through diverse and interesting neighborhoods.

Boom Island

Boom Island is an open park space just west of the Northeast area of Minneapolis. It allows for a close interaction with the river, and boat tours are available at its dock.
Tags: Destination, Recreation, Accessible via biking, or walking (if ambitious).

West River Parkway

West River Parkway follows the river’s west bank from Portland Avenue to Minnehaha Park. It includes bike and hiking trails and is easy to explore from campus, as it runs through West Bank.
Tags: Natural, Recreation, Walkable and bikeable from campus. 

Where can I visit to learn more about the River and the Cities?

Mill City Museum

The Mill City Museum explores the history of the relationships between the river, the milling industry, and Minneapolis. It is located in the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, once the world’s largest flour mill.
Tags: Historical, Cultural, Destination, Walkable and bikeable from campus.

National Park Service Web Site

What other destinations of interest are along the river?

Guthrie Theater

The Guthrie Theater is an architectural icon in the area, though a controversial one. Its endless bridge allows visitors an interesting glimpse of the river from above, and the theater has a unique and somewhat controversial history.
Tags: Cultural, Destination, Walkable and bikeable from campus.

What should I look for or think about while I’m by the river?

The Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota is bisected by the Mississippi River at a point between St. Anthony Falls and the Mississippi River gorge. St. Anthony Falls is a historic node of activity on the river which is of global significance. The gorge, all of which is in public hands, is the only true gorge on the Mississippi River.

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Contact Us!
Send us a note at to make suggestions for other places we should look, media to track, and stories to tell!
River Life in Video
Come Along for a Water Walk with Kare11 and River Life, and see Gifts at Work: The Mississippi River by the University of Minnesota Foundation
Open Rivers: Rethinking the Mississippi
A joint project of River Life, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Minnesota Libraries, Open Rivers is an interdisciplinary online journal that recognizes the Mississippi River as a space for timely and critical conversations about people, community, water, and place.