Mississippi River Cruises in Prairie du Chien
Take one of our cruises and you'll see Effigy Mounds National Monument, the 500 foot majestic Pike's Peak Bluff and State Park, and the mouth of the Wisconsin River - just as the early explorers Marquette and Joliet did in their 1673 expedition! But that's not all... our cruises always depart the main channel of the Mississippi River. That means we always explore the backwaters of the Upper Miss Wildlife Refuge.
Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
The name of Prairie du Chien came from the French for Prairie of the Dog, an early indian who lived on the prairie. French Canadians, engaged in the fur trade, settled on St. Feriole Island by the river. Gradually the British took over much of the fur trade centered in Prairie du Chien. In the early 1800s, the Americans asserted their victory with the building of Fort Shelby. During the War of 1812, the British and Americans fought for control of the fort and the prairie. July 1814, the only battle of the war fought happened here and is known as The Battle of Prairie du Chien. The fort was burned during the conflict, however, in 1816, Fort Crawford was built and remains today as a museum. If history is your passion, The Mississippi Explorer dock is just a couple of blocks south from the Villa Louis Historic Mansion, owned and operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Today, St. Feriole Island hosts several major annual attractions including the Prairie Villa Rendezvous, Prairie Dog Blues Fest and the Villa Louis Carriage Classic and home to Mississippi Explorer Cruises. Come find us in this great little river town and explore not only the fascinating history of the area, but also the refuge!
We do allow our passengers to bring aboard their own beverages and snacks.
Cruise Schedule for 2014
Pre-Pay & Save! Discounted tickets can be purchased online!
The easiest way to buy tickets for Prarie du Chien is to click on "PRAIRIE DU CHIEN" under "ONLINE RESERVATIONS", find your specific cruise on the calendar, and fill out the required information. You'll receive a confirmation email that you can print out and bring along. Simply check in at the boat, located at Lawler Park, 15-25 minutes prior to cruise departure, and you'll be all set! We accept MasterCard, Visa, check or cash as payment.
See below for prices and cruise descriptions. Private Charters are available for groups of 25 or larger beginning April and continuing through November. Please call for more information.
11 am: Wildlife Cruise (beginning May 22)
11 am: Wildlife Cruise (beginning May 22)
11 am: Wildlife Cruise
Saturday, October 11
11 am: Autumn Wildlife Cruise
November Weekends (departing from Lansing, IA)
1 to 4 pm: Fall Migration Cruises (see Port Lansing page for add'l info)
2-Hour Cruises (discounts available when purchaed online!)
Fall Migration 3-Hr Cruises
Adults (12+): $40 + tax; Youth (ages 4-11): $35 + tax; Child (0-3 yrs): Free
Private tours such as company/organization outings, school field trips, family reunions and even bachelorette/bachelor parties are available April - October. Costs average $10 per hour per adult passenger. For more information, please call the Mississippi Explorer office toll-free at: 877-647-7397 ext. 1 or 563-586-4444.
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!
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 three active Bald Eagles Nests within our Prairie du Chien 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 naturalists.
For more information regarding tickets, reservations, schedules, or private charters, please call us toll-free at (877) 647-7397.
Guests should arrive 10-25 mins prior to departure. Unclaimed reservations will be made available to others 25 mins prior to departure.
Individual cancellations made at least 48 hours prior to departure will be given a refund. No penalty rescheduling can be made up to 24 hours prior to departure time. Cancellation of private group trips must be made at least 3 weeks prior to departure date. We reserve the right to cancel/modify any scheduled trip for any reason deemed necessary such as severe weather, river conditions, technical problems, minimum passenger numbers, etc. In the case of a cancellation by the company, customers will have the option of rescheduling or receiving a refund.
Toll-free: (877) 647-7397 ext. 1
Local: (563) 586-4444
Mississippi Explorer Cruises
1913 Old Mill Drive
Lansing, IA 52151
Dock Location: 200 N. Water Street, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821
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Ticket Booth Location: 425 W Blackhawk Ave., Prairie du Chien, WI 53821
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