One of our reasons for visiting Bemidji, MN was to see the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Itasca State Park in Minnesota’s North Woods. This marker dates back to the 1930s. The sign says: Here 1475 ft. above the ocean the Mighty Mississippi begins to flow on its winding way 2552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.
I was happy to cross the headwaters of the Mississippi. It’s something I checked off my bucket list! This shows the bigger picture where water flows out of Lake Itasca (to the left) to form the Mississippi (to the right).
We hiked four trails in Itasca SP thru the woods and along the lake. Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest state park and was created in1891 to protect the old growth forests. There are 200 year old pines along this trail.
This was the view as we rode bikes around Lake Bemidji. It’s the location of the first city on the Mississippi, and the lake both receives water and is drained of water by the river. Bemidji is also known as the curling capital of the U.S., as it’s the home of America’s only Olympic-medal curling team.
And it's also the alleged birthplace of legendary Paul Bunyan! These larger than life statues of Paul and Babe the Blue Ox are located along the lake.
There’s a really fun sculpture walk in Bemidji. Here are a few favorites.
Big Bog State Recreation Area aka Big Bog is the largest peat bog in the lower 48 states. There’s a mile long boardwalk lined with interesting facts about the bog. We were anxious to see the carnivorous pitcher plants which were very small due to a drought.
Minnesota was one of the largest timber producing states in the late 1800s. Due to a surveying error the Lost 40 went untouched by loggers and became one of Minnesota’s greatest treasures. These pines are 300-400 years old. We met up with a couple of full-timing friends from Georgia in Bemidji. On the left, Teresa & I are showing just how big this tree is. The right shows a log cabin built with some of these large pieces of timber.
Here are a few nature and wildlife shots that were taken at Bemidji and the surrounding area!
And lastly, we just had to share this quick story with you:
We were in the jeep on a straight two lane road that cut right through the woods with no other vehicles in sight when we saw a good size Minnesotan black bear run out of the woods, across the road in front of us, and disappear back into the woods. He seemed like a bear on a mission, he never changed his pace or even turned his head! No time for a picture ~ we were too busy watching this encounter. It’s always exciting to see a bear, especially from the safety of a vehicle. But anytime we see one running (even on tv) it reminds us that a person can never outrun a bear. Not even Forrest Gump! As always, happy camping!