Wednesday, August 8, 2018

MN State Parks: Itasca

Itasca: The headwaters of the Mississippi. Having traveled down river it is hard to imagine such a humble beginning for the Mighty Mississippi. 

We ventured to this state park on 4th of July Weekend. Unlike Mystery Cave, I don't think I'd recommend such a busy weekend for this park. The walking paths and water were teaming with people. The campsites filled up fast and there wasn't much left to choose from by the time we decided to head here.

This quiet looking photo of my 2 girls wading in the Mississippi, belies the scene right behind us.

Am I the only one who looks at the image and wonders how long it takes for this water to get to the Gulf of Mexico? 3 months. Yep any leaf, grass, hair, etc that enters here, floats down river for 3 months joining with stuff others drop, resulting in water that I do NOT want to wade in.

The head waters were a bit dull. I don't really know what I expected, but this gentle stream does not fit the image most of us have of the Might Mississippi. Not far down river, by Crow Wing State Park the river's power is on display as I had expected.

It was still a fantastic park visit though. We spotted our first Lady Slipper. This wild growing orchid is the MN state flower and is protected. (Apparently you can dig them up over in WI, but don't try that here!) We actually saw a few of them growing amongst the trees. Our family was more excited by this elusive find than we were the trickle of water over some rocks.

After the obligatory visit to the headwaters, we headed to the swimming beach at Lake Itasca. It was on the busier side, but had plenty of space so didn't feel cramped. The nearby restroom had changing rooms and shower areas to clean up before heading out. They also had a variety of watercraft available for rent, and this nearby playground.

After a full day, we found a pet friendly restaurant in Walker to refresh before heading back home.

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