race begins in Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota and ends
ten states and 2,348 miles later in the Gulf of Mexico.
Excerpts from the
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area:
- River length is a difficult measurement to pin down because
the river channel is constantly changing. For example, staff
at Itasca State Park, the Mississippi's headwaters, say the
Mississippi is 2,552 miles long. The US Geologic Survey has
published a number of 2,300 miles (3,705 kilometers), the EPA
says it is 2,320 miles long, and the Mississippi National River
and Recreation Area maintains its length at 2,350 miles
- At Lake Itasca, the river is between 20-30 feet wide,
the narrowest stretch for its entire length.
The Mississippi is more than four miles wide at Lake Onalaska.
Near LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Mississippi water held behind Lock
and Dam #7 and water held back by damming the Black River combine
to form this broad reach of the Mississippi River.
- At its headwaters, the Mississippi is less than 3 feet deep.
The river's deepest section is between Governor Nicholls Wharf
and Algiers Point in New Orleans where it is 200 feet deep.
At Lake Itasca, the average flow rate is 6 cubic feet per
second. At Upper St. Anthony's Falls, the northernmost Lock
and Dam, the average flow rate is 12,000 cubic ft/second. At
New Orleans, the average flow rate is 600,000 cubic feet per
The elevation of the Mississippi at Lake Itasca is 1,475 feet
above sea level. It drops to 0 feet above sea level at the Gulf
of Mexico. More than half of that drop in elevation occurs within
the state of Minnesota.