Saint Anthony Falls. Waterfall in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saint Anthony Falls

Waterfall in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saint Anthony Falls & Saint Anthony Falls bridge, Minneapolis Photo © Ali Eminov

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Saint Anthony Falls

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Saint Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Saint Anthony Falls
Saint Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Saint Anthony Falls. Photo by Uncommon Fritillary
Saint Anthony Falls is an impressive waterfall located on the Mississippi River (Wikipedia Article) in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was the only major natural waterfall on the Upper Mississippi River until the late 19th century, when it was replaced with a concrete spillway. Nevertheless, the falls remain one of the most beautiful sights in the Twin Cities, which can be viewed from several nearby parks, bridges, and attractions.


Long before Saint Anthony Falls got its current name, it was a sacred Native American site. It was especially important to the Dakota, who referred to the Mississippi are the “river of the falls” and associated it with many of their legends. It was first called Saint Anthony Falls in 1680 after being observed by Louis Hennepin (Wikipedia
	Article), a Catholic friar who named the falls after Saint Anthony of Padua.

By the early 1800s, the falls had become a popular tourist attraction, and was frequently depicted by artists. However, it partially collapsed in 1869, which led to the construction of a concrete overflow spillway. For decades it was the upper limit for commercial navigation of the Mississippi River, but in the mid-1900s the United States Army Corps of Engineers constructed two dams and a series of locks which allowed barges to pass farther upriver. Today, the falls remain one of the most famous natural attractions in Minneapolis.

Mississippi River, Minneapolis - Saint
	Anthony Falls
Mississippi River, Minneapolis - Saint Anthony Falls. Photo by Jim Crocker


Saint Anthony Falls is often referred to as the birthplace of the city of Minneapolis. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the falls, from walking along the trails of its historic district to viewing it while exploring nearby parks, bridges, and historical sites.

St. Anthony Falls Historic District Area

The area surrounding Saint Anthony Falls is known as the “St. Anthony Falls Historic District”, which was established in 1971. Its most popular feature is a 1.8-mile walking trail called the “Heritage Trail” that contains numerous signs that explain the history of the falls and the area. It also has a visitor center.

This historic area is so important that it actually led to the creation of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a 72-mile area along the Mississippi River run by the National Park Service. It is the only national park area dedicated to the Mississippi River, and contains several popular sites in the Twin Cities, including Saint Anthony Falls and Minnehaha Park, which is the home of Minnehaha Falls.

Stone Arch Bridge

Some of the best views of Saint Anthony Falls are provided by the Stone Arch Bridge, a beautiful former railroad bridge that crosses the Mississippi River in front of the falls. It is the only bridge of its kind that spans the river, and consists of 23 arches made from granite and limestone. It was built by railroad baron, James J. Hill, in 1883, but for some time was known as “Hill’s Folly” until it eventually became a popular passenger rail link. In recent decades, it has been converted into one of the city’s most picturesque pedestrian bridges.

The Stone Arch Bridge is also the home of the annual Stone Arch Bridge Festival, a popular event held each June which features art displays and live musical performances.

Water Power Park

Another great place to capture the beauty of Saint Anthony Falls is Water Power Park, an area where the falls were once used to power the city’s many flour mills and sawmills. In 1882, a hydroelectric power station, the first of its kind in the country, was built in the area that is now the park. The hydroelectric power plant still generates power to this day, and is surrounded by Water Power Park, which features trails, bike paths, and benches that provide spectacular views of the Mississippi River, Saint Anthony Falls, and the dam. There are also numerous interpretive panels that explain the important history of the area.

Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam

If you’re interested in engineering, you can schedule a tour of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam, which was completed in 1963 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. This impressive man-made structure has allowed boats to navigate the Mississippi River through Minneapolis for years, despite the existence of the large waterfall.

Saint Anthony Falls, Minneapolis,
	Minnesota - Saint Anthony Falls
Saint Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Uncommon Fritillary

Practical Information

Here’s everything you need to know in order to visit Saint Anthony Falls.


1 Portland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 54401

Opening Hours

Most of the parks and trails surrounding Saint Anthony Falls are open daily from sunrise to sunset, though the falls are easily visible from numerous places throughout downtown Minneapolis.

Tip: If you’re wanting to get some great photos of Saint Anthony Falls, the best views of it are from the Stone Arch Bridge or in Water Power Park.

Similar Landmarks

Other popular parks in the Midwestern United States include nearby Minnehaha Park, as well as Grant Park and Lincoln Park in Chicago and Forest Park in St. Louis.

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Author: ehuttner. Last updated: Jun 30, 2015


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