Celebrate the flavors of the Minnesota Great River Road’s Mississippi River on your next road trip—wild rice and walleye straight from the river are among just a few classic Minnesota flavors. Bonus: you can fish for the state’s treasured walleye in many locations and experience the beautiful Minnesota outdoors at the same time. Choose one of the days below or choose them all… Just leave a “gone fishin’” note and hit the road!
Before you go: Place your order for Native American-harvested wild rice online from the White Earth Nation and gather inspiration from the recipes. For community information by region, including local tourism guides to help you find delicious local restaurants where someone else will cook the wild rice and walleye for you, visit the Minnesota Great River Road online. For farmers’ markets and more local flavors along the way, look to Minnesota Grown to guide you. And, the Minnesota DNR has a great online list of outfitters and boat rentals to help you plan before you leave home.
Day 1: Begin the day at the Mississippi River headwaters in Itasca State Park, get your fishing license at the Jacob Brower Visitor Center, and pick up a copy of the state’s fishing regulations or check them online. Then, launch your own boat or rent kayaks and canoes right at the park. Sleep under the stars in the park’s campgrounds or enjoy the rustic historic architecture of Douglas Lodge.
Day 2: Follow the Great River Road to beautiful Lake Bemidji State Park, where you can continue to try for walleye from the shore or your boat, then camp at the park or find many lodging opportunities in nearby Bemidji or at surrounding river and lake resorts. Don’t forget to try a local restaurant! Find public water access maps and safety tips here.
Day 3: Fish for walleye in lakes the Mississippi River runs through as it journeys east, including Andrusia, Cass, Winnibigoshish, Ball Club and Pokegama. Restock your wild rice supply at the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Main Office at 15756 State Hwy 371 NW in Cass Lake or online, where you can also find recipes and history. For members of many Native American cultures, wild rice is not just a crop; it’s a sacred component of their culture.
Day 4: Museum Day in Little Falls! Start at the Minnesota Fishing Museum, featuring over 10,000 artifacts related to Minnesota fishing. Grab some lunch downtown and head over to Charles Lindbergh State Park and State Historic Site to soak in the beautiful setting and rich history.
Day 5: Below the St. Cloud dam, choose from over a dozen boat landings and fishing piers on the Mississippi between here and the Twin Cities to try your luck at fishing for walleye, or learn why this area is home to some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the state. Find details about this stretch of the river here.
Day 6: Experienced paddlers can go low on the water to try their hand at fishing walleye in the Twin Cities stretch of the Mississippi River by renting a kayak at Mississippi River Paddle Share, which provides access to the river within the Twin Cities’ very own national park, the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area. Fishing piers, boat landings and marinas also offer river access throughout this stretch.
Day 7: From Hastings to the Iowa border, this section of Mississippi River offers three riverfront state parks and multiple DNR and local boat landings and marinas. The Mississippi Bluffs region is also home to the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, an angler’s paradise. Charming river towns along the way will tempt you to extend your exploration of the Great River Road’s flavors by offering great restaurants, farmers markets and more!
Discover more to see and do along the Minnesota Great River Road here.