If you're going on a Minneapolis to New Orleans road trip, consider taking a path down the Mississippi River. It starts in Minnesota and flows all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. It will lead you through legendary cities like Memphis and by pristine natural wonders like the Devil's Backbone. You'll see giant rocks that look like elephants, scores of wildlife, and historic symbols like the Gateway Arch. Taking a Minneapolis to New Orleans RV road trip along the Mississippi gives you an unparalleled taste of America's history, natural beauty, and culture.
Following the Mississippi River will bring you to some of the most breathtaking national parks in the United States. Since it crosses so many regions, you'll find a variety of climates, wildlife, and landmarks to enjoy.
Voyageurs National Park
If you don't mind taking a slight detour on your Minneapolis to New Orleans road trip, check out Voyageurs National Park. It's about five hours north of Minneapolis, but with 218,000 acres of islands, forests, cliffs, and lakes, this park is worth the trip. The lack of light pollution in the area makes it perfect for stargazing. In fact, the International Dark-Sky association certified it as an International Dark Sky Park.
Gateway Arch National Park
As you travel down the Mississippi River to St. Louis, MO, you'll find the Gateway Arch National Park. The famous St. Louis Arch symbolizes the pioneer spirit and westward expansion. It towers over the Mississippi River at 630 feet in the air. After enjoying that spectacular view, take a riverboat cruise, or enjoy the 62-acre park surrounding the arch.
Hot Springs National Park
Take a moment during your road trip from Minneapolis to New Orleans to relax at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. It's a short drive from Memphis and only a slight detour on your route down the Mississippi. There are campgrounds where you can picnic, forests where you can hike, and creeks where you can cool off. You'll spot abundant wildlife on the miles of trails. The mountains feature unique geological formations. The biggest attractions are the famed thermal springs. You can rejuvenate your spirit at one of the city's bathhouses, where the pipes carry in water directly from the springs. Fountains where you can fill bottles or drink the refreshing water dot the park.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Do you like tales of smugglers, alligators, and mysterious swamps? You'll find all that and much more at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Frequent boat tours give you the history of Jean Lafitte, a smuggler who fought to protect New Orleans in the War of 1812. There are 20,000 acres of wetlands, forests, and swamps to explore.
Do you want to go beyond the typical tourist attractions on your road trip from Minneapolis to New Orleans? Visit some state parks on the way down the Mississippi to get a better taste of what makes each region unique.
Backbone State Park
Backbone State Park is the oldest state park in Iowa. The Maquoketa River carved a high ridge in bedrock that residents dubbed "The Devil's Backbone." Thrill-seekers can hike up Backbone Trail for a look at unique rock formations. Be careful, though — the drop from the Devil's Backbone is steep, and there are no rails. If that's not your thing, there's a man-made lake, abundant trout, and picnic tables to enjoy.
Elephant Rocks State Park
Your Minneapolis to New Orleans road trip itinerary won't be complete without a visit to Missouri's Elephant Rocks State Park. This park features some of the most peculiar and fascinating natural wonders in the United States: 1.5-billion-year-old granite boulders shaped like elephants. The rocks stand end-to-end and reach as high as 27 feet. The biggest is 34 feet long and 17 feet wide.
Reelfoot Lake State Park
Tennessee's Reelfoot Lake State Park offers something that no other park on your Minneapolis to New Orleans road trip can: the chance to tour a flooded forest. In the 1800s, earthquakes made the Mississippi flow backward. It filled this area, creating a lake. Now, you can boat past cypress trees that stretch right out of the lake. While you're boating or hiking, you can spot bald eagles and white pelicans. There's even a Reelfoot Eagle Festival every February.
Grand Isle State Park
Not far from New Orleans lies Grand Isle State Park. This beachfront park has plenty of room for campers, and you can swim in the Gulf year-round. Bird enthusiasts will enjoy the Grand Isle Migratory Bird Festival in April. More than 100 species pass by on their way north. Opportunities for boating, fishing, crabbing, and hiking are abundant.
Devonian Fossil Gorge
The Devonian Fossil Gorge in Iowa is your chance to walk on an ocean floor that's almost 400 million years old. A series of floods washed away the topsoil, exposing the ancient sedimentary rock along with numerous fossils. Hike down Entry Plaza and see how many fossils you spot!
Remember When Toy Museum
On your way through Missouri, be sure to stop at the Remember When Toy Museum in Canton. It contains more than 20,000 toys, including rare prototypes that you can't find elsewhere. In addition, there's a replica 1800s village called Cedar Falls. Explore a post office, one-room schoolhouse, general store, and more.
No road trip from Minneapolis to New Orleans should skip the legendary Beale Street in Memphis. During the day, it looks like an ordinary city street. At night, it comes alive with nightclubs, open-air music, food carts, pop-up stores, and street performers. Enjoy the carnival-like atmosphere as you mingle with hundreds of people dancing, singing, and strolling along.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Cedar Rapids, IA, combines the best of city living with the great outdoors. It's surrounded by rivers, parks, and trails for nature lovers. For those who prefer indoor activities, there are museums, theaters, and Orchestra Iowa. Twenty miles south, you'll find the 1-80 Eastbound Tiffin rest stop. This 24-hour facility has Wi-Fi, vending machines, and a dump station to make your Minneapolis to New Orleans RV road trip easier. If you plan to stay longer, there are multiple Iowa campgrounds to choose from. The Lazy Acres RV Park has 92 sites with fire pits and picnic tables. The entire family can enjoy the miniature golf course, fishing pond, and other amenities.
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is a big city with a big personality. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy watching professional baseball, football, and hockey teams. The Saint Louis Zoo boasts 12,000 animals for families to visit for free. There are dozens of museums and the Missouri Botanical Garden, which includes a man-made cave to tour. You’ll also find numerous RV parks and campgrounds nearby. The Covered Bridge RV Park sits in a nearby suburb, which is relaxing after a long day in the city. It has 39 sites with full hookups. Be sure to reserve your spot because this place fills up fast. The Casino Queen RV Park in East Saint Louis has a nominal fee if you're looking for a dump station before heading down the Mississippi River.
Memphis is the home of the blues, rock' n' roll, and Elvis Presley. Stop here on your Minneapolis to New Orleans road trip to enjoy the rich culture. After a night celebrating on Beale Street, you can visit the National Civil Rights Museum, see a show at the Orpheum, or tour Graceland. Ride the trolley along the Mississippi for an unparalleled view. It's also a convenient city for RV travelers. Love’s Travel Stop #344 is right in the city with a dump station plus 24-hour road service. You can even stay right next to Elvis Presley’s estate at the Graceland RV Park & Campground. It has security and full hookups.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Minneapolis to New Orleans, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Minneapolis or New Orleans.