Paddling the Lower MN River

by Katrina Styx

The following is a press release from the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance:

The Minnesota River is one of those important waterways many people don’t think ofMinnesota River when it comes to paddling. Up and down the river you will find a wide range of water access points, camping opportunities and a chance to enjoy the solitude and beauty of the Minnesota River. Try it out whether you want to tackle the entire 335 miles or a shorter stretch. There is something for everybody.

On the final stretch of the river you will paddle past numerous historic river towns including Le Sueur, Henderson and Carver. Look for the Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge with numerous units spread out along the river corridor. The landscape begins to change as the Minnesota River flows through the Twin Cities with more of an urban face including large barges.

In Le Seuer, home of the “Jolly Green Giant,” there is camping at River Park with a boat launch, restroom facilities and nature trails. Named for Pierre Charles Le Sueur, who explored the Minnesota River Valley in the early 1700s, this community is home to the W.W. Mayo House and the birthplace of Dr. William James Mayo who founded the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Henderson has seen a lot of changes because of the Minnesota River including the construction of a permanent ****** to protect it from the severe flooding of the past. With many of its historic buildings restored on main street, this is a popular designation for visitors wanting to experience the beauty of the river valley. Check out the Joseph R. Brown Minnesota River Center with its “Minnesota River Table,” giving a comprehensive view of the basin.

The first large unit – Lawrence – of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (NWA)  starts soon after the city of Belle Plaine. Established in 1976, this refuge is the result of a citizen effort to preserve and restore the threatened Minnesota River Valley starting at the confluence with the Mississippi River and heading upstream.

Today, the Minnesota Valley NWR has approximately 14,000 acres spread out among fourteen linear units with opportunities to fish, hunt, hike and other recreation activities. Refuge staff offer environmental education programs year-around including bird watching, photo hikes and snowshoeing. A visitor center features exhibits, auditorium, classrooms, bookstore and an art gallery.

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