MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO’s summer road trip continued Thursday with Mike Binkley and Liz Collin, who are in the Park Rapids area. The city is about three-and-a-half hours northwest of the Twin Cities.
Gallery: Goin’ To The Lake In Park Rapids
They found the Mississippi River’s headwaters at Itasca State Park. Countless visitors have stood right at the beginning of the Mississippi River’s 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. This is one of the must-see stops if you’re visiting Park Rapids.
The town is only about 20 minutes south of Itasca State Park. The year-round population is about 4,000. But like many of the places WCCO visited this summer, that number swells in the summer.
Park Rapids has a lot to see and do right in town; from great restaurants, shopping and a movie theater. And when you leave downtown, there are around 400 area lakes to enjoy.
Mike & Liz Arrive In Park Rapids
Of Park Rapids’ 400 area lakes, 100 of them are in Itasca State Park. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and an Ojibwe guide reached the headwaters of the Mississippi River on July 13, 1832. It is the first official record of the discovery of the river’s source.
Other explorers thought places like Cass Lake, Leech Lake and even Lake Pepin were the source of the Mississippi. Visitors today can walk right across.
Itasca State Park is one of the largest in the state, and it’s one of those things every Minnesotan should experience. It wouldn’t be here if not for the Civilian Conservation Corps program of the 1930s.
Hundreds of young men built most of the infrastructure of the park that’s still here today. Most people think the park itself was established because of the headwaters. As Mike and Liz found out, that’s not the case.
A Visit To Itasca State Park
Mike and Liz tried out a little bumper boating Thursday at Evergreen Park between Park Rapids and Itasca. It’s right off Highway 71 and has been a family-fun destination since the late 1970s.
Besides bumper boating, there’s mini golf, go-carting and laser tag. It’s open seven days a week in the summer.
A Visit To Evergreen Park
There’s another attraction near Park Rapids that Mike and Liz had to visit on this trip. It’s not a thing, but a young person who’s helped put a tiny town on the map as mayor.
Bobby Tufts has truly been an ambassador for Dorset. Mike and Liz talked with restaurant owners in town who say they’re swamped with customers asking about Bobby after seeing him here on ‘CCO.
Now, Mayor Bobby’s younger brother is getting into politics!
Mayor Bobby Reflects On Leaving Office
Liz and Mike didn’t know what they got themselves into Thursday.
They ended up competing in Water Wars.
It’s part of Legends and Logging Days Festival in Park Rapids.
The two found themselves behind a fire hose, trying to shoot a bucket suspended in the air against an opposing team.
Oh, and the opposing team was last year’s champions.
They didn’t do very well.
Liz & Mike Compete In Water Wars