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Mississippi River Cruises

Geology

The current form of the Mississippi River basin was largely shaped by the Cordilleran Ice Sheet of the most recent Ice Age. The southernmost extent of this enormous glaciation extended well into the present-day United States and Mississippi basin. When the ice sheet began to recede, hundreds of feet of rich sediment were deposited, creating the flat and fertile landscape of the Mississippi Valley. During the melt, giant glacial rivers found drainage paths into the Mississippi watershed, creating such features as the Minnesota River, James River, and Milk River valleys. When the ice sheet completely retreated, many of these “temporary” rivers found paths to Hudson Bay or the Arctic Ocean, leaving the Mississippi Basin with many features “oversized” for the existing rivers to have carved in the same time period.

The Mississippi River Delta has shifted and changed constantly since the formation of the river, but the construction of dams on the river has greatly reduced the flow of sediment to the delta. In recent years, the Mississippi's mouth has shown a steady shift towards the Atchafalaya River channel, but because of floodworks at the river's mouth, this change of course—which would be catastrophic for seaports at the river mouth—has been held at bay.

Vacation Cruises

The Mississippi River offers vacation cruises unlike any other river in the world. The rich history, beautiful scenery, and abundant wildlife all make the Mississippi River a true natural treasure.

The Spirit of Peoria offers several 3–5 day cruises from Peoria, IL to St. Louis, MO throughout the year.

Watershed

The Mississippi River has the third largest drainage basin or “catchment” in the world. The basin covers more than 1,245,000mi2 (3,220,000km2), including all or parts of 31 states and two Canadian provinces. The drainage basin empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Mississippi River Facts

  • Length: 2,320mi (3,734km)
  • Source: Source Lake Itasca, elevation 1,475ft (450m)
  • Mouth: Gulf of Mexico, elevation 0ft (0m)
  • Average Discharge: 450,000ft3/s (12,743m3/s)
  • Cities: Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Davenport, IA; St. Louis, MO; Memphis, TN; Baton Rouge, LA; New Orleans, LA

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