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La Crosse Mississippi River Cruises

Booming sawmills, fur trading, and boat building, once made La Crosse once one of the busiest steamboat ports on the Upper Mississippi River. Today it still remains a great place to take a riverboat cruise into the scenic wildlife refuge of the Mighty Mississippi! Our unique backwater cruises depart from beautiful Riverside Park in downtown La Crosse.

Jump onboard the Mississippi Explorer riverboat and explore scenic backwater wetland areas away from the busy main-channel of the river. Unreachable by other passenger vessels, we venture into seldom seen side-channels such as: Broken Arrow, Swift Creek, Mormon, and Running Sloughs. We'll explore the outskirts of Goose Island and Target Lake, stop at beaver lodges, lotus fields, and even active bald eagle nests. Now's the time to get outside and see the wide variety of plants and animals that live in the "Upper Miss" wildlife refuge! Our cruises are professionally guided and narrated by qualified and experienced wildlife naturalists and licensed captains. Last, but certainly not least, the boat has an onboard restroom, comfortable seating, a weather-protected cabin, and a very friendly and professional crew!

Looking for a fun evening with majestic scenery, wildlife, and great sunsets? Then you'll certainly want to join us on one of our lightly-narrated Sunset Wildlife Cruises. Designed to absorb the quieter times on the river, you'll want to skip the movie and come cruise with us during these nature-filled evening tours. In our opinion, it's just about the best time to be on the river!

Carry-on's of food and drinks are allowed and welcomed during all of our cruises. We also permit coolers to be carried on, but we ask that you keep them reasonably sized.

We're located on at the south end of Riverside (across from the Radisson Hotel) and there is ample free parking throughout the area. If you need driving directions, please scroll down and use our interactive map at the bottom of the page.
If you'd like to visit the La Crosse Tourism Center's website filled with helpful tourism links and lodging accomodations, please click here. If you'll be staying in the Onalaska area and you'd like to visit their tourism website, please follow this link.


Cruise Schedule for 2014

Pre-Pay & Save! Discounted tickets can now be purchased online! 
The easiest way to buy tickets for La Crosse is to click on "LA CROSSE" under "ONLINE RESERVATIONS," find your specific cruise on the calendar, and fill out the required fields. You'll receive a confirmation email that you can print out and bring along, however, this printout is not needed if you don't have access to a printer. We'll have a reservation name list ready at the boat with your information. Simply check in at the ticket booth 15-25 minutes prior to cruise departure and you'll be all set! Tickets are also typically available for purchase at the ticket booth (located at the boat) 10-25 minutes before the cruise, however, we recommend purchasing tickets online for guaranteed seats.

See below for prices and cruise descriptions. Private Charters are available for groups of 25 or larger beginning mid-April and continuing through early November. Please call for more information.

Departing May 24 through Oct. 19
 (All cruises 2-hrs long unless noted otherwise)

10:30 am: Wildlife Cruise
(beginning June 18)

Sunset Wildlife Cruise:
      Sep 14 - Oct 19: 5 pm

10:30 am: Wildlife Cruise:
Sunset Wildlife Cruise:   
    Sep 14 - Oct 19: 5 pm

10:30 am: Wildlife Cruise (May 25 & every Sunday starting June 15)

Specialty Cruises

November Weekends (departing from Lansing, IA)
  1 to 4 pm: 3-hr Fall Migration Cruises (see Port Lansing page for add'l info)

2-Hour Cruises (discounts available when purchaed online!)
Adults (12+): $25 + tax; Youth (ages 4-11): $19 + tax; Child (0-3 yrs): Free

Fall Migration 3-Hr Cruises
Adults (12+): $40 + tax; Youth (ages 4-11): $35 + tax; Child (0-3 yrs): Free

Private Charters
Private tours such as company/organization outings, bus groups, school field trips, family reunions and even bachelorette/bachelor parties are available April - October. Cost's average $10 per hour per adult passenger. School's looking for educational cruises can qualify for discounts. For more information, please call the Mississippi Explorer office toll-free at: 877-647-7397 ext. 1 or 563-586-4444.

Cruise Descriptions
Please note: All of our cruises venture off of the main-channel of the Mississippi River and into the scenic and wild backwaters. Extraordinary wildlife can be seen on each and every one of our cruises. However, in order to give you the best "Mississippi River" experience, we'll visit the unique natural events that occur at certain times throughout the year. This is why we feature "Bald Eagle Watching", Lotus & Lily", "Nesting Bald Eagles", "Autumn Wildlife" and other exciting cruises periodically. They're still our fantastic Wildlife Cruise, but with a different spotlight angle!

"Wildlife Cruise"
Spend time on America's River with our signature 2-hr backwater cruise designed specifically for nature lovers and sightseers. Explore a variety of wetland habitats including open water, narrow backwater sloughs, and side channels along riverside bluffs and floodplain forests.  Highlights include up close views of Bald Eagle nests, Beaver Lodges, sunning Turtles, Great Blue Herons, Egrets, Red Fox, playful River Otters, and much more! This is a fully-narrated cruise with interesting insight from the captain and onboard naturalist.

"Bald Eagles On the Nest"
Incorporated into our Wildlife Cruises throughout May & June, these cruises highlight the Bald Eagles Nests within our  backwater routes. This is a wonderful time to view the majestic eagles from a closer perspective! Join us as we watch the Bald Eaglets on the nest as they grow & learn to fly & fish on their own (Mom & Dad are usually always nearby too!).

"Lotus & Lily"
Incorporated into our Wildlife Cruises during the last part of July and into mid August, these cruises highlight the flowering American Lotus and Water Lilies. Come with us as we slowly navigate through the open-water pathways found in the immense fields of these breathtaking and fragrant aquatic plants.

"Sunset Wildlife Cruise"
What could be better than a Mississippi River backwater cruise? Our animal friends stay hidden during the hot afternoons and wait until this time to venture out. Bring along your own food and beverage of choice and prepare for an evening of pure delight. There is no better time to be on the Mighty Miss!

"Autumn Wildlife Cruise"
View the spectacular fall foliage colors on the bluffs surrounding the river valley inside or outside of our sightseeing riverboat cabins. With the vegetation dying and the leaves fall off the trees, it's also a fantastic time to spot many of the critters that call the Upper Miss wildlife refuge home. A very popular cruise for autumn sightseers with great photo opportunities for everyone! This is a narrated cruise with insight from the captain and onboard naturalist.

"Fall Migration Cruise"
Departing in November from our Lansing, Iowa port, these spectacular cruises are our last of the year! These migration tours offer an extended first-hand birding experience in key Mississippi River Flyway habitats. Experienced bird-watchers and river naturalists will accompany each cruise and provide interpretation and bird-watching identification and assistance. Visitors will experience amazing close-up views of thousands of elegant tundra swans and hundreds of thousands of a wide variety of ducks plus numerous bald eagles, Canada geese, pelicans, cormorants, and other wildlife. Snacks and drinks will be served at no extra charge aboard these season-ending cruises. This is a fully-narrated cruise with interesting insight from the captain and onboard naturalist.

For more information regarding tickets, reservations, schedules, group tours or private charters, please call Mississippi Explorer toll-free at (877) 647-7397 ext. 1 or 563-586-4444. If we are unavailable, leave your name, phone number, and a message. We'll call you back at our earliest opportunity.

 Contact Us:

Toll-free: (877) 647-7397 ext. 1
Local Line: (563) 586-4444


Mailing Address:

Mississippi Explorer Cruises
1913 Old Mill Dr., Lansing, IA 52151

Cruises depart from Riverside Park (approx. address 200 Harborview Plaza), downtown La Crosse (across from the Radisson Hotel).

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