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Minnesota

Birds & Blooms: Spring in the Mississippi River Valley

Program No. 22824RJ
The Mississippi River Valley in Minnesota is the largest of North America’s major flyways. Join naturalists to witness warbler migrations, beautiful spring wildflowers and bald eagles!
Length
7 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,649

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
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What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 30 - May 6, 2023
Starting at
1,649
Itinerary Note

This departure will focus more on waterfowl.

May 15 - May 21, 2023
Starting at
1,649
Itinerary Note

This departure will focus more on songbirds.

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 30 - May 6, 2023
Starting at
2,529
Itinerary Note

This departure will focus more on waterfowl.

May 15 - May 21, 2023
Starting at
2,529
Itinerary Note

This departure will focus more on songbirds.

At a Glance

Spring in Minnesota's Mississippi River Valley spells a time of great seasonal beauty, grand landscapes, and dramatic changes. Dozens of species of warblers and other songbirds serenade from greening trees as they migrate north on one of the world's great flyways. Gorgeous spring wildflowers carpet the woods and the riverbanks with vibrant colors. And while migrating waterfowl take to the river, bald eagles soar majestically overhead. Explore the unique 'Bluff Country" portion of the Mississippi River and discover beautiful State and National Parks and Wildlife Refuges. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the National Eagle Center. Learn about the history and habitats of the famous unglaciated 'driftless area' with expert naturalists as you explore the best of the Mississippi in spring.
Activity Level
Outdoor: No Sweat
Walking 2-5 miles per day. The terrain will be varying within state and city parks. Trails will have rocks, roots, crushed limestone, gravel and some will be paved.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Exploring Whitewater & Fronteanc St. Parks. Known as famous warbler migration sites and premier birding destinations for feathered jewels of the sky.
  • Learn firsthand about Bald Eagles at the world-class National Eagle Center and observe migrating waterfowl at Trempeleau National Wildllfe Refuge and other prime sites, both well-known and secret.
  • Discover a burbling trout stream lush with wildflowers;view spectacular limestone bluffs brushing the spring sky; and explore delicate prairie dunes.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Douglas Wood
Douglas Wood has been called "Minnesota's Renaissance Man." An author, artist, naturalist, musician and wilderness leader, he is the creator of 38 books for adults and children, and the recipient of many honors and awards. As a group leader, he has led scores of trips from southern Minnesota's Bluff Country to the Northwest Territories, focusing not just on the natural world of geography and geology, flora and fauna, but on the timeless relationship between nature and the human spirit.

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

Profile Image of Douglas Wood
Douglas Wood View biography
Douglas Wood has been called "Minnesota's Renaissance Man." An author, artist, naturalist, musician and wilderness leader, he is the creator of 38 books for adults and children, and the recipient of many honors and awards. As a group leader, he has led scores of trips from southern Minnesota's Bluff Country to the Northwest Territories, focusing not just on the natural world of geography and geology, flora and fauna, but on the timeless relationship between nature and the human spirit.
Profile Image of Larry Dolphin
Larry Dolphin View biography
Larry Dolphin was the Executive Director of Hormel Nature Center for 30 years and has served on the board of directors for the Minnesota Branch of the Izaak Walton League, the Listening Point Foundation and his local Austin Audubon Chapter. During Larry's tenure at Hormel Nature Center, he taught birding and wildflower classes to tens of thousands of participants. His extensive knowledge of Minnesota's natural history makes each outing with him a rewarding and learning experience.
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.
Wildflowers of Minnesota Field Guide
by Stan Tekiela
Paddle Whispers
by Douglas Wood
National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
by Jonathon Alderfer
Deep Woods: Wild Waters
by Douglas Wood
Northland Wildflowers: The Comprehensive Guide to the Minnesota Region
by John & Evelyn Moyle
Grandad's Prayers of the Earth
by Douglas Wood
Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern & Central North America
by Roger Tory Peterson
Old Turtle and the Broken Truth
by Douglas Wood
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7 days
6 nights
17 meals
6 B 5 L 6 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Minneapolis/St. Paul
D
Holiday Inn

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: Orientation: 7:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to applicable COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. Our expert naturalists who also serve as Group Leaders will provide educational content. We will travel to/from field trips in 15-passenger vans or mini-van. The trails we will explore are unpaved, crushed rock walking trails that are relatively flat. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/current conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Next, we will have an introduction to the program and the natural history of the Mississippi River in spring, bird migration, and the presence of spring wildflowers in the deciduous forest. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
2
Natl. Wildlife Refuge, Whitewater State Park, Eagle Center
Wabasha
B,L,D
AmericInn Lodge & Suites Wabasha

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 140 miles, approximately 3 hours riding time. Walking about 4 miles; unpaved, crushed rock walking trails, relatively flat.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, hop into the vans, and set out on a field trip with our expert naturalists to explore the floodplain of the upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge and Whitewater State Park. The Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge lies between four states along nearly 250 miles of floodplain along the Mississippi River: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. Whitewater is a mini Ozarks with limestone cliffs, caves, bluffs, clear, spring-fed trout-filled waters and a diverse forest bursting with spring ephemerals. We will identify emerging wildflowers and migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds.

Lunch: At a park in the field, we will make our lunches with all the fixings.

Afternoon: We will ride to the National Eagle Center and see live bald and golden eagles up close, view wild eagles along the river, and examine the interactive and informative displays on these majestic creatures. Center interpretive staff will lead our exploration. We’ll then ride to lunch.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: We will ride on to our hotel and check in. The remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
3
Trempeleau National Wildlife Refuge Full Day Field Trip
Wabasha
B,L,D
AmericInn Lodge & Suites Wabasha

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 85 miles, approximately 1.5 hours riding time. Walking up to 5 miles; unpaved, crushed rock walking trails, relatively flat.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will take the vans for a full-day field trip to explore Wisconsin’s lush Trempeleau National Wildlife Refuge and its wetlands. As we go, we’ll look for waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds, in addition to wildflowers along the forest carpet.

Lunch: At a park in the field, we will make our lunches with all the fixings.

Afternoon: We will continue exploring beautiful Trempeleau National Wildlife Refuge and the Mississippi River Valley. We’ll then ride back to the hotel with some time to freshen up before going out do dinner.

Dinner: At a restaurant in Wabasha.

Evening: After returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening will be at leisure.

DAY
4
Weaver Dunes SNA, McCarthy Lake Wildlife Area
Wabasha
B,L,D
AmericInn Lodge & Suites Wabasha

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 30 miles, approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking up to 5 miles; unpaved, crushed rock walking trails, relatively flat.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will get into the vans and set out on a field trip to explore the unique features, birds, and flowers of Weaver Dunes Scientific and Natural Area. We’ll ride to lunch after our field trip.

Lunch: At a diner in Kellogg, Minnesota.

Afternoon: Our next field trip will take us to explore Weaver Bottoms floodplain and the wetlands of the Zumbro River at McCarthy Lake Wildlife Management area. This is a complex of both dunes and wetlands creating a variety of habitat where we might find some very special flowers and birds. We’ll then ride back to the hotel with some time to freshen up before going out to dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Lake Pepin, Frontenac State Park, Fort Snelling State Park
Red Wing
B,L,D
Nichols Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 35 miles, approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking up to 5 miles; unpaved, crushed rock walking trails, relatively flat.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board the vans, and ride to Lake Pepin, the last natural lake on the Mississippi River and birthplace of water skiing. We’ll explore Frontenac State Park, a hotspot for migrating warblers with incredible views of Lake Pepin and the Mississippi River Valley.

Lunch: At a park in the field, we will make our lunches with all the fixings.

Afternoon: We’ll continue exploring, birding, and flower finding at Frontenac State Park. More than 300 bird species have been recorded here. Birdwatching in the Red Wing, Minnesota area, encompasses 72 miles of shoreline governed by the National Park Service. We’ll ride back to the hotel with some time to freshen up before going out to dinner.

Dinner: We will ride to a historic restaurant.

Evening: We’ll ride on and check in to our hotel. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Hastings Sand Coulee SNA, Minnesota National Wildlife Area
Minneapolis/St. Paul
B,L,D
Holiday Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; driving about 55 miles, approximately 1.5 hours riding time. Walking up to 4 miles; unpaved, crushed rock walking trails, relatively flat.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel and begin our return journey to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. On our way, we will make a number of stops to view the birds and flowers including Hastings Coulee Scientific and Natural Area.

Lunch: At the Hastings Coulee Scientific and Natural Area.

Afternoon: We will stop in the Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge to explore and look for birds and wildflowers. We’ll also visit some local holding ponds that typically have waterfowl. We expect to arrive and check in to the hotel at approximately 5:00 p.m.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: Returning to the Inn, the remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
7
Program Concludes
Minneapolis/St. Paul
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.