The Longest Rivers in Minnesota

The Mississippi River in Minnesota.
The Mississippi River in Minnesota.

Minnesota is a large U.S. state that covers an approximate area of 86,936 square kilometers. The state includes many large rivers, and the longest that is entirely located in Minnesota is the Minnesota River. The five longest rivers that flow through Minnesota are highlighted below.

The Longest Rivers in Minnesota

Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is entirely located in the United States, although some its drainage system extends into Canada. The primary source of the river is Lake Itasca, which is located in northern Minnesota. The river is approximately 3,730 kilometers long and has the second-largest drainage system in North America, after the Hudson Bay drainage basin.

Red River of the North

The Red River of the North, or simply the Red River, has a length of about 890 kilometers, making it the second longest river that flows through Minnesota. The river starts at the union of the Bois de Sioux River and the Otter Tail River, and then flows north, passing through the Red River Valley, and eventually empties into Lake Winnipeg.

Des Moines River

The Des Moines River is a tributary of the Mississippi River and has a length of about 845 kilometers. The Des Moines River originates from Lake Shetek, eventually enters the Mississippi River, and has a drainage basin area of approximately 40,940 square kilometers. The river's name originates from French explorers who named it La Rivière des Moines, which means "River of the Monks," and refers to the Trappist monks who inhabited the region at that time.

Cedar River

The Cedar River has a length of 544 kilometers and is the fourth longest river flowing through Minnesota. The river flows from southwestern Minnesota, through Iowa, and finally joins with the Lowa River, which is located approximately 32 kilometers from the Mississippi River. The drainage basin of the Cedar River is fertile farmland and has an area of about 20,251 square kilometers. The river is of great significance to the state of Minnesota, as it has been used to provide power through the construction of various hydroelectric dams.

Minnesota River

The Minnesota River has a length of 534 kilometers and is the longest river located completely within the state of Minnesota. The river has been named as one of the most polluted in Minnesota, and therefore needs better policies in place to keep it clean. The Minnesota River is also of great economic significance, as it is the origin and center of the Minnesota's canning industry.

Other Long Rivers

Other major rivers that flow through Montana include the Wapsipinicon River, Little Sioux River, Roseau River, Red Lake River, Otter Tail River and the Saint Louis River. The Saint Louis River is the shortest of the top ten longest rivers flowing through the state, and measures approximately 309 kilometers.

The Longest Rivers in Minnesota

RankRiverLength (miles)Length (km)
1Mississippi River 2,3203,730
2Red River of the North550890
3Des Moines River525845
4Cedar River338544
5Minnesota River 332534
6Wapsipinicon River300480
7Little Sioux River 258415
8Roseau River 214344
9Red Lake River193311
10Otter Tail River 192309
11Saint Louis River 192309

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