Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park

becoming Mississippi Gateway Regional Park

Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park is one of the most unique parks in Three Rivers. The Mississippi River defines the boundary of this 160-acre park and there are many opportunities to see our nation’s greatest river up close. From the 12-foot-wide observation walkway on top of the dam, enjoy spectacular scenery, the roar of the water, and rainbows in the mist..

Follow the more than two miles of trails along the bank of the river and disappear into the beauty and quiet of nature. Look for signs of the abundant wildlife that live in or visit the park—mink, beaver, hawks, osprey, deer, turtles and river otters. In winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular activities here.

Interactive Map of Coon Rapids Dam

coon rapids pdf map

Plan Your Visit

30 Minutes

Stop in the visitor center and visit the large aquariums of river fish, turtles, toads and more! Afterwards, follow the observation walkway to the dam for panoramic views of the Mississippi River.

2 Hours

Bring your fishing equipment and throw a line into the Mississippi River from the fishing deck located on the west side of the dam. Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch with a view at one of the picnic areas.

All Day

Rent a backpack exploration kit from the visitor center and hike the 5.9 miles of turf trails south of the visitor center, where you can use your kit and explore the natural area. Some kits include binoculars, fun family activities, identification books and insect nets. The two turf trails follow the river downstream and offer gorgeous views of islands and back channels. Look for herons, eagles and other birds on your hike! Remember to pack snacks and stop at a rest area on your hike, where you can have lunch with a view. After you return your kit, visit the aquarium and see live animals up close!

See 30-minute, 2-hour and all-day ideas for more parks!

things to do

Bike Trail

Biking

Bikers crossing the dam

1 mile of trail

There is one mile of paved trail in the park with an additional two miles of trails on the Anoka County side of the dam. Rush Creek Regional Trail connects the park to Elm Creek Park Reserve

The 12-ft wide walkway is a unique and popular bike path over the river.

Boat Launch

Boating

Girl paddling a kayak

A carry-in boat access to the Mississippi River is located behind the Visitor Center. Paddlers are advised to check Mississippi River conditions before launching.

Summer 2019: Due to parking lot and trails construction project, the paved walking path from the parking lot to the boat launch is approximately half a mile long.

Dog Trails - On Leash

Dog Trails

Man walking a dog on a paved trail

4.6 miles of trails

Walk your dog on the one mile paved trail, some turf trails, and on the adjoining Rush Creek Regional Trail. Dogs are allowed with a six-foot, non-retractable leash. Owners must pick-up after their dog.
 

Fishing / Fishing Pier

Fishing

Man and child fishing in the river

Mississippi River

A fishing deck is located on the west side of the dam. It is low enough to give anglers a good opportunity to ply the waters of the Mississippi River just below the gates of the dam. Spring flooding makes fishing unsafe along the shoreline and is discouraged. Water levels and current speed are variable at other times of the year. Fishing is not allowed from the Coon Rapids Dam walkway. Anglers must have a valid Minnesota fishing license.
 

Geocaching

Geocaching

GPS units on table

Geocaching is a family-friendly, high-tech treasure hunt that combines respect for the environment with a sense of adventure. This activity involves placing or looking for a cache using global positioning system (GPS) equipment.

Hiking

Hiking

Paved trail in the woods

5.9 miles of trails

Two turf trails follow the river downstream from the dam and offer vistas of the islands and back channels. There is 1 mile of paved trail in the park including a walkway across the dam. Rush Creek Regional Trail connects the park to Elm Creek Park Reserve
 

Nature Education

Nature Education

Children looking at minnows in a jar

The Visitor Center, located on west side of the river, is nestled in the woods above the river floodplain. The activities and exhibits focus on the natural history of the Mississippi River. Inside the visitor center, guests can find hands-on exhibits, live animals, and year-round nature programming. Exploration backpacks are also available for checkout! 
 

Paddling

Paddling

A man in a red hat paddles a red kayak on the water.

A carry-in boat access is located below the Visitor Center. Paddlers are advised to check Mississippi River conditions before launching.

Summer 2019: Due to parking lot and trails construction project, the paved walking path from the parking lot to the boat launch is approximately half a mile long.

Paddle Share Program

The Mississippi River Paddle Share Program has partnered with Three Rivers to offer kayak rentals to experienced paddlers! Put-in stations are located in the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and River Park (in partnership with Brooklyn Park). Plan your trip, make online reservations, and see who else has partnered with this program. Learn more.

Picnic Area

Picnic Areas

Picnic table in shaded area

First-come, first-served picnic tables and grills are available for use throughout the park, with plenty of room for lawn games.

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing

Group snowshoeing across field

1.5 miles of trails

Explore the nature trails along the Mississippi River with snowshoes available to rent at the Visitor Center. See pricing.

Upcoming Events

Sept. 15 | MAC Wildlife Area
Try rock climbing, geocaching and more! Search for critters and explore with naturalists.

Sept. 22 & 23 | Multiple Locations
Celebrate the fall equinox in the parks! Explore the science of fall colors, try hands-on activities, take a guided nature walk and more.

Ongoing | Multiple Locations
From escape room-style challenges to crafting to axe throwing and more, don't miss the teen-only programs at Three Rivers.

See all upcoming programs and events at Coon Rapids Dam!

Becoming Mississippi Gateway Regional Park

From community input and a partnership between Three Rivers and Brooklyn Park, the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and the Brooklyn Park Environmental Nature Area are becoming one. 

Mississippi Gateway Regional Park will become a year-round connection for all people to celebrate the Mississippi River. 

Nearer to the Coon Rapids Dam and the new Mississippi Gateway Center, the park will focus on the river and active recreation. Moving away from the dam, the park will become more wild with field learning stations for nature exploration.

Three Rivers and Brooklyn Park will work together, and construction will occur as funds become available.

Learn more about the master plan.

Nature School is an outdoor-based preschool program for children ages 4-6. Led by Three Rivers at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, it provides the freedom to explore and play in nature, fostering a lifelong connection to the natural world! 

Watch a Video about Coon Rapids Dam

Park Operations

Three Rivers Park District owns all of the land within the West Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park boundaries on the Hennepin County side plus the entire Coon Rapids Dam. Learn more about the operations of this area.

Give to Coon Rapids Dam

Do you love Coon Rapids Dam? Support the park with a donation!

#threeriversparks

The Wandering Naturalist

Episodes 25–28: 50 Years of Environmental Stewardship

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Lowry Nature Center and the prairie at Crow-Hassan Park Reserve. Learn how Three Rivers has helped paved the way for environmental stewardship over the last 50-plus years.

The Three Rivers Blog

August 26, 2019

Believe it or not, fall bird migration is already starting! From ospreys to owls to waterfowl, read all about what birds pass through our area of Minnesota and where in Three Rivers you can expect to see them. 

August 12, 2019

Discover how constellations can be "signs of the season" and find origin tales of the Pleiades constellation, also known as the Seven Sisters, from ancient Greek, Australian, and Indigenous cultures.

July 18, 2019

It’s a common misconception that technology keeps people from connecting to nature. But many people are interested in both the natural world and technology. Read on to learn how people connect to the outdoors through gaming and gamification, then check out e-cology: The Evolution of Technology at Silverwood Park on July 20! 

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