"The Mississippi Explorer Cruise was one of the best river cruises I have ever experienced with a group. The outgoing and friendly crew were the best. Their knowledge of the river, the habitat and the birds and animals that live there, was second to no one! It was all presented in a fun, down-home style. In fact, it was like spending the day with your family!!! Mississippi Explorer Cruises has my highest recommendation and I will definitely spend some enjoyable time with them again in the future. Fabulous!! Thanks again for a great day. The cruise was the highlight of the Mystery Trip.”
Gary Block Tours
Mississippi Explorer Cruises offers Historical and Wildlife Cruises/Eco-Tours upon the backwaters of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. River cruises range in length from 1.5 hours up to all day, depending on your bus tour group’s interests.
Charter cruises are customized to your groups needs. Port of departure, times, routes, and length of trip.....you decide! However, we will assist you in putting a marketable and entertaining package together! Our company employs a "hands on" approach and we'll be there on the boat with you!
Our cruises are ideal for Explorers of all ages...ranging from Student field trips to Senior outings.
Our Port Locations
• La Crosse, Wisconsin
• Lansing, Iowa
• Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
• Galena, Illinois at Chestnut Mountain Resort
Operating Season & Hours
Operating Season: Mid-April through Mid-November
Cruise Times: Sunrise to sunset everyday!
Explore More. See More.
Come and discover the beautiful scenery and grandiose eco-system that encompasses the Mississippi River, where alluring backwaters are waiting for your exploration.
Join our friendly U.S. Coast Guard licensed Captains and their helpful crew onboard our Mississippi Explorer riverboats for a uniquely tailored eco-excursion. Sit back, relax and enjoy the splendor of the mighty Mississippi River ecosystem, as your knowledgeable Captain safely navigates through the meandering channels and endless backwaters. Magnificent scenery, abundant wildlife, waterfowl and bald eagles welcome you around every bend - binoculars and cameras are suggested!
The Mississippi River, rich in history, is unveiled as your seasoned Captain shares yarns of river lore. Reflect back to earlier river years with tales of steamboat wrecks, early Explorers, Native American wars, and the massive log rafts that once supplied lumber to a new nation. We offer our passengers a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty and natural wonders of the Upper Mississippi River bordering Northeast Iowa, Southwest Wisconsin, Southeast Minnesota and Northwest Illinois.
MISSISSIPPI EXPLORER riverboats are uniquely designed and capable of navigating areas of the Mississippi Wildlife Refuge inaccessible to other commercial vessels. All our vessels offer guided tours with narrations from local experts.
Our specially designed, single deck, enclosed vessels offer your group event protection from the cold, heat and inclement weather. Restrooms are located onboard.
Vessel passenger capacities range from 20 up to 98 and our boats are handicap accessible.
• All vessels are U.S. Coast Guard certified and inspected.
• Our Captains are licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard.
• Our Crewmembers are enrolled in a U.S. Coast Guard drug testing program.
Themed Cruises & Special Events
Year Round Highlights:
Sightseeing Cruises, Wildlife Eco-Tours & Cruises, River History Cruises, Bird-Watching Cruises (Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Egrets, & more), Bald Eagle & Eagle Nest Cruises, Lock and Dam Cruises, and popular Storytelling Cruises.
May - July
View Eaglets in their nests. Bird watching at it’s best!
Late July - Mid August
Popular…..Magnificent Lotus and Lily Cruises. Get an up close view of American Lotus & Water Lilies in full blossom.
Late September - October
Popular….Autumn Wildlife and Fall Foliage Cruises
Mid October - Mid November
Popular….Fall Migratory Waterfowl and Bird Cruises. View thousands of Geese, Ducks, Bald Eagles, Pelicans and Tundra Swans.
Meals & Food Service availability:
There is a variety of catered food services available and we've worked with several local restaurants for onboard catered events. We've found that lap lunches/picnic lunches work great on longer excursions (3-5 hours) and hors d'oeuvres/finger foods best on shorter tours (1-2 hours). Please feel free to contact us for meal and restaurant suggestions or take care of the process yourself - just let us know how we can help!
We have placed an interactive map, courtesy of Google Maps, at the bottom of our "OUR PORT" pages. For example, if you need driving directions to find us in La Crosse, Wisconsin, click on "LA CROSSE" under "OUR PORTS" and scroll to the bottom of the page. There you can type in your location and find directions to us.
Note: If you need further directions, maps, or just need to talk to someone, please don't hesitate to give us a call.
Group Tour Questions:
1. Where are your ports/locations located?
• La Crosse, Wisconsin
• Lansing, Iowa
• Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
• Galena, Illinois (at Chestnut Mountain Resort)
2. What are your prices?
• $10 per hour per adult passenger. For additional services such as picnic lunches, drinks, or live musical entertainment - small charges will apply.
3. How long are your riverboat cruises?
• 1 1/2-hour to 5-hour cruises are typical, however, we will cater to whatever you need..
4. What are the departure times?
• We schedule our departure time around your itinerary.
5. Where do your tours take us?
• Our cruises are centered around the mighty Mississippi River and its scenic Nat'l Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Refuge. We venture off the main channel of the river and into the backwater areas that offer exciting up close views of bald eagles, eagle nests, great blue herons, neo-tropical songbirds, beaver lodges, immense American lotus and water lily beds, historical overviews, and much more wildlife!
6. Are your Captains licensed by the United States Coast Guard?
• Yes, and our captains have years of river experience and expertise. We hire only captains and crew members that have a strong passion for the river and its history, ecology, and scenic beauty. Our employees LOVE their jobs!
7. What about parking and drop off fees - are there any?
• No. We have onsite and free parking at all of our locations.
8. Is there a charge for bus drivers and tour guide/group leaders?
• No. We provide complimentary tickets for bus drivers and tour operators.
9. Do you have group discounts?
• Yes, but certain restrictions apply. Please call us for more information.
1. Is the boat stable in the water?
• Yes. The U.S. Coast Guard requires stringent stability design, testing, and annual inspections.
2. Is the boat covered or otherwise protected from the elements?
• Yes. Our specially designed, single deck, enclosed vessels offer your group protection from the cold, heat, and other inclement weather.
3. Can the boat be heated and/or air conditioned?
• Yes. Although we typically find that our passengers love to have the large windows and doors open. Some of our smaller boats are completely "open-air", however, these boats are only used if specifically requested.
4. Are there restrooms aboard?
5. How are the boats laid out?
• Ample seating with optimal viewing for all aboard. On our two larger boats, the Mississippi 3 and 7, the single-level deck comfortably accommodates up to 65 seated passengers. Amenities include: sun decks, spacious cabins, service bars, heater/air conditioner systems, large viewing windows, rest rooms, PA/music systems, carpet, very passenger friendly seating, AC power and more. Our boats are designed to be the best "sightseeing" boats with no frills or tricks! What you see is what you get and what you get is the best Mississippi riverboat experience on the water!