Celebrating the Mississippi, the often overlooked national park in our own backyard

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Wooden stairs and a trail from Main Street in Minneapolis’ St. Anthony Main neighborhood leads down to the Mississippi River, where the historic Stone Arch Bridge can be seen. (Sun Sailor photo by Jason Jenkins)

Wooden stairs and a trail from Main Street in Minneapolis’ St. Anthony Main neighborhood leads down to the Mississippi River, where the historic Stone Arch Bridge can be seen. (Sun Sailor photo by Jason Jenkins)

Standing before an audience in the Wayzata City Hall Community Room, John Anfinson, dressed in his National Park Service uniform, shares a fact he said is frustratingly unknown.

“We have a national park right here in the Twin Cities,” he said. “It is the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.”

The gathering in Wayzata was a meeting of the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club, who invited Anfinson to give an afternoon presentation to members July 21.

As superintendent of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Anfinson said his job is to be an advocate for the unique 72-mile stretch of river that runs from the top of Hennepin County to just south of Hastings in Dakota County.

“No other national park runs continuously through an entire major metropolitan area. We’re the only one that does so,” Anfinson said.

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