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Our many unique itineraries along the winding Mississippi River are some of our cruisers’ favorites for a lot of reasons. Whether you are sailing the Upper Mississippi River or the Lower Mississippi River, these banks are full of critical turning points in history, iconic cuisine, and the natural wildlife that calls this river home. 

Throughout all our Mississippi River itineraries you can reconnect with the world around you with one of our many wildlife-focused excursions. While you can always watch the wildlife roam in their natural habitats from the sun deck on a modern riverboat or classic paddlewheeler, we’ll bring you up close to the action on any of these exciting excursions. 

Cajun Pride Swamp Exploration

Oak Alley / Houmas House, LA | Historic Mississippi River Cruise

If your cruise brings you to Oak Alley and Houmas House, hop abord a unique narrated tour of the Manchac swamp. This four-hour excursion takes you through the thick waters of this wildlife refuge. Watch—from the safety of your covered boat—as gators jump from the waters and egrets share their elegance with the swamp. Along the way see moss-draped cypress trees reflecting off the still, dark waters. As you glide through the waterways, the sounds of diverse wildlife, from the croaking of frogs to the calls of herons and perhaps even the splash of an alligator, fill the air. Bring your bug spray and get ready to see what’s waiting to be seen beneath the waters.

Black Bird Slough Paddling

Winona, MN | Upper Mississippi River Cruise

Enter the peaceful and abundant environment of Pool 6 on the Mississippi River, where moss-laden trees and dense undergrowth line the forested backwaters. Here, you might spot bald eagles soaring overhead, or catch glimpses of beavers and otters along the water’s edge. As you smoothly paddle the calm waters in a sit-on-top kayak or canoe, either solo or with a partner, pause to enjoy a refreshment while observing the quiet beauty of nature. A portion of your excursion fee aids reclamation efforts in the adjacent Prairie Island Park area, supporting the health and scenic quality of this natural sanctuary. During your one and a half hours of paddling, be sure to bring sun protection, water, and shoes suitable for water to fully appreciate this secluded haven and its diverse inhabitants.

National Eagle Center

Red Wing, MN | Upper Mississippi River Cruise

Spend the day at the National Eagle Center, where the eagle display area offers a unique opportunity to meet live eagles up close, with no barriers obstructing your view. Marvel at the majesty of these magnificent birds, observing their keen eyes and powerful talons in a setting that fosters a deep connection with nature. Engage with expert naturalists who present E.A.G.L.E. (Eagle Answers Given Live Everyday), where they share insights into the eagles' behavior, biology, and historical significance. This educational experience enriches your understanding of these majestic creatures and their role in the ecosystem. They are a key part of the Mississippi River ecosystem and an emblem of America, getting up close to these creatures is a real treat. 

Great River Outdoor Adventure

Natchez, MS | Lower Mississippi River Cruise

Get ready for a full day of adventure at Double C Ranch, the ultimate playground for nature buffs and wildlife aficionados. Hop into your private sport utility vehicle, where a local expert will whisk you away on a thrilling journey through the stunning landscapes of the ranch. You'll zoom past ancient hardwood forests, take it slow through sprawling cattle fields, cruise by bountiful farmlands, and weave through towering pine paths.

Back at the ranch, watch live demonstrations that are nothing short of spectacular. Prepare to be blown away as skilled ranch hands show off their mastery in tomahawk throwing, bullwhip cracking, archery, and lasso twirling. But don’t just stand there—dive into the action. After the demos, you’ll get a chance to sling a tomahawk, crack a whip, notch an arrow, and swing a lasso. With expert tips from the pros, you’ll be channeling your inner cowboy or cowgirl in no time. And because no adventure is complete without some bragging rights, you’ll go home with a “survivor certificate” so you can share your Double C Ranch adventure with friends and family and watch their jaws drop. 

Winona Boat Exploration

Winona, MN | Upper Mississippi River Cruise

This narrated boat exploration in Winona does more than just entertain; it educates you about the iconic waterway, covering the extensive history of Winona and its deep connection to the Mississippi River. As you glide along the gentle currents, be sure to have your camera and binoculars at the ready to capture and observe the local wildlife. You might spot eagles soaring above, deer grazing along the banks, turtles basking on logs, snakes slithering in the underbrush, and beavers busily at work. This mesmerizing river cruise offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and historical significance of this celebrated region.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Pigeon Forge, TN | Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of our favorite spots—so we dedicated two days to it on our Great Smoky Mountains Itinerary! Experience an unforgettable journey through one of the park's most iconic regions, Cades Cove, where every turn tells a story of history and nature intertwined. Join a caravan of Jeeps, led by seasoned guides who will captivate you with tales and insights as you wind through the stunning landscape.

Learn more about the mountains’ history and diverse inhabitants of the park by visiting the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Here, you'll encounter engaging exhibits, captivating documentaries, and knowledgeable staff eager to share the park's past and present. For a more intimate rendezvous with nature, take a leisurely stroll from the Visitor Center to Cataract Falls. This short and gentle path leads you to the enchanting cascade, offering an opportunity to connect with the natural world at your own pace.

Swincar Backcountry Adventure

Chattanooga, TN | Tennessee Rivers Cruise

On our Tennessee Rivers cruise from Nashville to Chattanooga, when you dock in Chattanooga, uncover the wonders of Lookout Mountain in a truly adventurous fashion. Navigate forest trails and through acres of untouched wilderness aboard a Swincar e-Spider, an innovative electric off-road all-terrain vehicle designed to conquer any terrain with ease.

As you move through the rough paths with ease, you can fully appreciate the surrounding environment. This unique experience increases your chances of encountering the diverse wildlife that call this pristine landscape home. Keep your eyes peeled, as you may spot majestic deer, elusive turtles, wild turkeys, and other roaming creatures as they go about their daily routines in their natural habitat. Listen for the babbling brooks hidden within the trees, see just how amazing nature is as you approach the most magnificent rock formations.

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Dubuque, IA | Grand Heartland Cruise

Step into a world of aquatic wonder and adventure at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa. Begin your journey by exploring fascinating exhibits that showcase the rich history and diverse ecosystems of the mighty Mississippi River. Be surrounded by a kaleidoscope of aquatic life, from the electric blue hues of darting dartfish to the dazzling array of colors adorning tropical coral reefs. Get up close and personal with native wildlife, from playful river otters to majestic bald eagles, in the extensive aquarium habitats. Learn more about the past of the river we call home with interactive displays and hands-on activities that bring history to life for visitors of all ages. Don't miss the chance to experience the museum's outdoor wetlands and marsh area, full of native flora and fauna waiting to be discovered. 

Hauberg Estate & Botanical Gardens

Davenport, IA | Upper Mississippi River Cruise

On our Upper Mississippi River Cruise from St.Paul, MN to Alton, IL / St.Louis, MO, begin with the historic Hauberg Estate. Admire this Prairie-style masterpiece, be transported back to an era of architectural innovation and artistic expression, adorned with intricate details that reflect its history as a former home of the Hauberg family, prominent figures in Davenport's history. This home is a true masterpiece of contemporary flair and timeless charm.

Next, venture to The Quad City Botanical Center, an oasis of natural beauty featuring an indoor tropical garden with a soothing waterfall and an array of outdoor attractions including themed pocket gardens inspired by different regions and cultures. Explore the vibrant hues and fragrant aromas of the perennial and wildflower prairie gardens, where native species thrive in harmony with the surrounding landscape. Finally, don't miss the whimsical train garden, where miniature locomotives wind their way through meticulously crafted landscapes, adding a touch of charm to the botanical oasis.

Mesker Park Zoo & Botanical Garden

Henderson, KY / Evansville, IN | Grand Ohio River Cruise

Prepare to be enveloped in the enchanting ambiance of "Amazonia." Where majestic jaguars and playful capuchin monkeys roam while surrounded by the melodious calls of tropical birds. Go at your own pace through the botanical gardens, where you’ll find an array of exotic plants including orchids and bromeliads, artfully arranged to inspire tranquility and peace. Be sure to visit the habitat of the North American river otters, where an underwater viewing area offers a fascinating glimpse into their lively underwater escapades. Lastly, explore the educational wonders of the Kley Building Discovery Center, where you can learn about the intriguing world of reptiles and amphibians in an engaging and interactive setting. Each step at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanical Garden invites you into a world where nature’s beauty and wonder come alive, tailored to enrich your appreciation for the natural world.

Tunica River Walk and Museum

Tunica, MS | Grand Heartland Cruise

Step off the ship and head straight to Tunica RiverPark to experience the stunning beauty of the Mississippi River. The park grounds are alive with native wildlife and flora, and the architectural design of the RiverPark Overlook offers fantastic views across the river. Take a walk on one of RiverPark's nature trails. You have the choice of the paved Promenade Trail by the river, the rustic Boardwalk Trail around a small lake, or the secluded Wildlife Trail through the forest. Each path provides a unique connection with the natural environment.

Explore the Mississippi River Museum located on site. Here, genuine artifacts and detailed exhibits tell the story of the Mississippi River, focusing on the history, nature, and culture of the area. This visit offers a compelling educational journey through the river’s historical significance.

Enjoy the Mississippi River Wildlife

Our Mississippi River Wildlife and Nature Excursions offer an unparalleled opportunity to explore the diverse and dynamic ecosystems along America's most iconic river. Whether you're watching alligators leap from the swampy waters of Manchac or paddling through the peaceful backwaters near Winona, these excursions provide a deep and engaging connection with nature. At the National Eagle Center, the intimate encounters with majestic eagles are not just informative but also profoundly moving, highlighting the intricate link between these creatures and their natural habitat. Each itinerary is designed to offer more than just a sightseeing tour; it's a chance to engage with nature, learn about the region’s history, and participate in preserving these magnificent environments. From the adrenaline-fueled activities at Double C Ranch to the serene paddles on the Tennessee rivers, every moment spent on these excursions promises memorable experiences and a deeper appreciation for the natural world.

Explore all the Mississippi River has to offer on our variety of Mississippi cruises traveling all of the river.