What States Does The Mississippi River Run Through?

The Mississippi River passes through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

But there is so much more to learn about the Mississippi River!

It is more than just a massive body of water. It’s full of captivating scenery and intriguing history from start to end. Touching a wide variety of communities and cultures, the river is also rich with fascinating characteristics equally unique as the heritages it continues to witness.

In today’s article, not only will we explore “what states does the Mississippi River run through?”, but we’ll also answer some common questions and unravel a bunch of interesting facts.

What States does the Mississippi River Run through?

The Mississippi River runs through the following states:

  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Arkansas
  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
Map of USA showing the states that run through the Mississippi River
Map created with mapchart.net

Where does the Mississippi River Begin and End?

The starting point of the Mississippi River is in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, and it ends in the Gulf of Mexico. From its source, the Mississippi River travels a distance of 2,340 miles (3,766 km) in total, making it the longest river residing in North America.

What is the Mississippi River basin?

There are 32 states included in the Mississippi River basin, along with 2 Canadian provinces, which drain their water to the Mississippi. This drainage basin covers more than 1,245,000 square miles (3,220,000 square kilometers) or about 1/8 of the whole continent, making it the 4th largest in the world.

The Mississippi River basin is located in the southern United States where the climate is humid, causing increased rates of yearly precipitation and seasonal changes that impact its main floods and river fluctuations.

Trivia Time: Do you know which states these other major US rivers go through?:

Where did the name ‘Mississippi’ River Come from?

The origin of the word Mississippi is the French word ‘Messipi’, which is an adaptation of what the Anishinaabe (Algonquin or Ojibwe) call the river, ‘Misi-ziibi’ (meaning, Great River).

Are there Tributaries Flowing into the Mississippi River?

Aerial view of the Mississippi River in Louisiana

Several large and small tributaries flow into the Mississippi River, including the Missouri, Red, and Ohio rivers. Not only does the river border states, but it also creates borders and partial borders for numerous states.

What Regions is the Mississippi River Divided into?

The Mississippi River is typically divided into 3 regions:

  • The Upper Mississippi — extends from the river’s headwaters at Lake Itasca up to its confluence with the Missouri River. Examples of cities bordering this region include Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Dubuque, Iowa.
  • The Middle Mississippi — extends downriver from the Missouri River to the Ohio River, running close to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
  • The Lower Mississippi — starts at the Ohio River mark and stretches to the Gulf of Mexico.

How Long is the Mississippi River?

The Mississippi River runs for a length of approximately 2,381 miles.

How Deep is the Mississippi River?

The Mississippi River doesn’t possess the same depth across its entire length. Instead, the depth of the river varies depending on the particular point you’re located at.

That said, the deepest spot in the Mississippi River measures 200 feet down and lies near Algiers Point in New Orleans.

What is the Width of the Mississippi River?

The width of the Mississippi River ranges between 20 and 30 feet at its narrowest point. However, at its broadest point, the Mississippi River measures over 11 miles wide.

What Speed does the Mississippi River Travel at?

On average, the Mississippi River flows at a speed rate of 1.2 miles per hour. This means that it would take a raindrop that has fallen at the headwaters of the Mississippi River nearly 82 days to reach the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, this doesn’t include stopping to sightsee!

What Type of Animals Can You Find in the Mississippi River?

Swans and ducks in the Mississippi River

There’s a vast variety of animals that consider the Mississippi River to be home, including:

  • 360 fish species
  • 326 bird species
  • 145 amphibian species
  • 50 mammal species

What are the Most Prominent Types of Fish You Can Find in the Mississippi River?

The most prominent types of fish residing in the Mississippi River include many varieties of walleyes, catfish, carp, suckers, and garfish.

Which State has the Most Miles of the Mississippi River?

The Mississippi River begins in northern Minnesota at Lake Itasca and flows in the shape of a question mark, running 681 miles through Minnesota. This is the most miles that any state has the river traveling through.

There are only 2 states that the Mississippi River flows “mostly” through, Minnesota is one and the other is Louisiana.

Why is the Relation between Mark Twain and the Mississippi River?

View a Mark Twain statue in front of the Monrovia Library
(photo: Kit Leong / Shutterstock)

Mark Twain, also known as the greatest humorist in the history of the United States has produced, spent most of his childhood in Hannibal, Missouri on the Mississippi River. He was so influenced by it that the Mississippi River is present as a character in his classic novels: “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” (published in 1876) and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (published in 1884).

In his 1883 book “Life on the Mississippi”, Twain described the antebellum steamboat period based on his personal experiences.

Did Anyone Swim the Length of the Mississippi River?

Yes, only 2 people managed to do it: Martin Strel in 2002 (68 days) and Chris Ring in 2015 (181 days).

History of the Mississippi River

Since the 4th millennium -at least-, the Mississippi River area has been home to Native Americans. The Upper Mississippi included the Illini, Sioux, Ojibwe, Sac and Fox, Pottawatomie, and Menominee, whereas the Lower Mississippi included the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Quapaw, Caddo, Osage, Tunica, and Natchez.

The river was an excellent source of clean water and plenty of food, including freshwater fish and mussels. It also served as a means of transportation.

The richness of the river’s resources tempted European settlers to lay claim on the land bordering it. Countries such as Spain, Britain, and France all competed to declare the land as theirs, which was the case until the year 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. 

After the victory of the United States in the 1812 War against Britain, the Mississippi River officially and forever belonged to the country.

❓ Trivia Time: What States Does The Colorado River Run Through?