About Mississippi Explorer Cruises
EXPLORE MORE. SEE MORE.
Explore more. See more. That's our company motto and just overall good words to live by. But don't take our word for it, come explore with us and see for yourself! Join us on one of our fully guided and interactive riverboat cruises through the wild and scenic backwaters of the Upper Mississippi's wildlife refuge and leave the standard "Up, Down, Turn-Around" Cruise behind. We'll stop at bald eagle nests, beaver lodges, and lotus fields. We'll explain and narrate the history of the region including the wonderful ecosystem that is the "Upper Miss" wildlife refuge. Young and old alike, our variety of Mississippi River backwater cruises are safe, educational, and relaxing ways to enjoy America's River!
The Mississippi Explorer Difference
• Explore the scenic wildlife refuge, not the Mississippi's busy, interstate-like, main channel.
• Smaller, shallow-draft riverboats designed for unique backwater experiences.
• Get within feet of beautiful backwater riverbanks, bald eagle nests, beaver lodges, turtle logs, muskrat huts, blooming lotus & water lilies.
• Bald eagles are sited on 95% of our cruises!
• Professionally guided & fully narrated by U.S.Coast Guard licensed captains, wildlife naturalists, and qualified experts.
• Weather protected cabins with restrooms, heat, A/C, comfortable seating, and PA/sound system. Specifically designed to be used for sightseeing.
• Large, sliding-glass, wildlife-viewing windows the permits a 360 degree indoor viewing cabin.
• Bring your own food and beverages aboard.
About the Refuge
Established in 1924, the 261-mile refuge, with 240,000 acres of wooded islands, marshes, open water, and backwater sloughs, is the longest river refuge in the continental United States. It's the most visited of all the refuges in North America and is home to nesting bald eagles, beavers, great blue herons, mink, pelicans, egrets, turtles, raccoons, muskrats, fox, deer, otters, neo-tropical songbirds, 119 species of fish, over 600 plants, and much more! To learn more about the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, please visit their website at www.fws.gov/midwest/uppermississippiriver.
What's a Wildlife Cruise?
Our Wildlife Cruises are about connecting people with nature and conservation, specifically the ecosystem of the Upper Mississippi River and it's tributaries. You'll discover a variety of wetland habitats including open water, narrow backwater sloughs, and side channels along riverside bluffs and floodplain forests.
Professionally guided by qualified experts and USCG licensed captains, our tours are educational as well as a great way to view the inner workings and tranquility of the longest river in North America.
In addition to the cruises listed, many other "Specialty" cruises can be found only on our website. Listed under the specific port locations, they include: Music on the River, Lotus & Lily, and Fall Migration Cruises. You'll also find many interesting historical and educational cruises listed under our "Backwater Speaker Series" which spotlight well-known authors, naturalists, scholars, and historians!
Group Tours and Private Charter Cruises
Bus groups, family reunions, company and/or school outings, whatever the occasion, we'll provide a unique and memorable experience! Groups require a minimum of 25 passengers, available at all ports, call for further details.
Our fleet of eight Mississippi Explorer vessels are based at our home ports of La Crosse, Wisconsin; Lansing, Iowa; Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin; and Galena, Illinois.
In La Crosse, we operate the Mississippi Explorer 7 at the southern end of Riverside Park across from the Radisson Hotel. Free parking can be found along Front Street or Veteran's Memorial Drive.
In Lansing, our vessels are conveniently docked on the riverfront just south of Main Street. We typically move an appropriate vessel from another port to be used here.
In Prairie du Chien, cruises depart from the Lawler Park riverfront on St. Feriole Island. The Mississippi Explorer's 3 and 4 are the primary Prairie du Chien riverboats. Free parking is available along Water Street. Be sure to stop and visit our Ticket Booth located on Black Hawk Avenue at the entrance of Lawler Park.
At Galena, cruises depart from the scenic Chestnut Mountain Resort. The boat used at Chestnut is primarily the Mississippi Explorer 1.
Undeniably, we are located in the river's most scenic area, rich in history and gateway to the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.