Itasca State Park-Headwaters of the Mississippi River
Half a million visitors a year visit Itasca State Park, the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Visitors centers near the entrance and at the headwaters add to the value of your park experience and appreciation for all Itasca has to offer year round.
Only 22 miles north of Park Rapids on US Hwy 71. A spectacular work of nature, over 500,000 tourists from around the world enjoy the beauty of Itasca State Park each year. The park offers 32,690 acres to explore with 2,000 acres of wilderness sanctuary, designated as a National Natural Landmark. The Mississippi River begins its 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico here. At the outflow from Lake Itasca, millions of visitors have walked across the headwaters, wading in the footsteps of American history. The park has become a natural and cultural landmark with camping, lodging and naturalist programs for all ages. Year-round recreational opportunities include fishing, canoeing, biking, swimming, picnicking, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and winter camping.
There is only one place in the entire world where you can tiptoe across the bubbling beginnings of the mighty Mississippi River. Itasca State Park, established in 1891, is Minnesota’s oldest state park and celebrated its 125th Anniversary in 2016. Itasca State Park is regarded as the crown jewel of state parks and the premier highlight of the Lake Country Scenic Byway.
People come to walk across the rocks at the Headwaters but also fall in love with the pines, as the 49-square- mile park preserves thousands of acres of old-growth white and red pines. Beautiful visitor centers and historic lodging complement the natural wonders of the park.