On the Road: The Best of the Upper Mississippi River

Navigate the Upper Mississippi through four states by river and road to discover picturesque scenery, historical insights, and charming little towns.
Rating (5)
Program No. 14948RJ
7 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Navigate the Upper Mississippi River to discover rich history, picturesque scenery and the charming little towns that call the Mighty Miss their home. Unique river excursions reveal new insights into the commerce, wildlife and nature's foliage waiting around every bend. Enjoy experts, private hideaways and themed dining as they weave your overland and river excursions into an unforgettable adventure.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Climbing stairs, toting luggage and walking or standing up to one hour at a time with stops.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Exclusive river excursions transport you into special places where big boats cannot go.
  • Travel through four states — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois to visit charming little towns like the Scandinavian hamlets of Decorah, Iowa and Red Wing, Minnesota.
  • Spot bald eagles during a special backwaters excursion in the National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Diane Van Wyngarden
Dr. Diane Van Wyngarden is a Mississippi riverlorian and a nationally certified interpretive expert, who combines her doctorate in adult learning with her passion for travel. She enjoys sharing unique learning experiences with her groups. Diane recently received state recognition for her outstanding teaching and an award from Iowa’s Governor for her ongoing work with communities.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Diane Van Wyngarden
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Kenny Salwey's Tales of a River Rat: Adventures Along the Wild Mississippi
by Kenny Salwey
The film entitled, "Mississippi: Tales of the Last River Rat", is part of our program and is an Emmy-winning documentary produced by BBC. The film features wildlife along the river as well as the author of this book.
Upper Mississippi River History: Fact-Fiction-Legend
by Ron Larson
The author sorts Upper Mississippi River facts from fiction.
The River We Have Wrought: A History of the Upper Mississippi
by John O. Anfinson
Detailed history by a retired engineer and former member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Shell Games: The Life and Times of Pearl McGill, Industrial Spy and Pioneer Labor Activist
by Jeffrey Copeland
The story of Pearl McGill's rise as an unlikely teen heroine for America's early 20th Century labor struggle is one of courage and passion. Through meticulous research, Jeffrey Copeland paints a vivid and accurate picture of what is arguably one of the most defining periods of the pearl button industry, a microcosm of the world of American industry of the era."
Up on the River: People and Wildlife of the Upper Mississippi
by John Madson
Up on the River is John Madson’s loving and sometimes humorous tribute to the people, animal life, and places of the Upper Mississippi. Madson’s Upper Mississippi is the part “between the saints,” from St. Louis to St. Paul, and where for thirty years he explored the bright waters of the upper reaches of the mighty river itself as well as the tangled multitude of sloughs, cuts, and side channels that wander through its wooded islands and floodplain forests.
Discover! America’s Great River Road. Volume 1: St Paul to Dubuque, Iowa
by Pat Middleton
Travel guide to heritage, natural history and recreation of the Upper Mississippi River and Great River Road from St. Paul, Minnesota to Dubuque, Iowa.
Around the Bend: A Mississippi River Adventure
by C.C. Lockwood
Narrated photography by a wildlife photographer from the river's source to its mouth. River scenery and landscapes.
Steamboating on the Upper Mississippi
by William J. Petersen
This is an edited reproduction of the book first published in 1937.
Life on the Mississippi
by Mark Twain
Memoir of the steamboat era on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War by Mark Twain, published in 1883. The book begins with a brief history of the river and describes Twain's career as a Mississippi steamboat pilot. The second half tells of Twain's return many years later. By then the competition from railroads had made steamboats passe, in spite of improvements in navigation and boat construction. Twain sees new, large cities on the river, and records his observations.
Immortal River: The Upper Mississippi in Ancient and Modern Times
by Calvin Fremling
Mississippi River geology, ecology, geography, anthropology and history.

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