Minnehaha Falls – Minneapolis, Minnesota - Atlas Obscura

Minnehaha Falls

This small, but beautiful waterfall has attracted visits from artists, composers, and two United States presidents. 


By most standards, at 53 feet, Minnehaha Falls is a small waterfall. But what it lacks in height it makes up for in its fantastic setting, its natural beauty, and its accessibility. It has been a popular tourist destination since the 1800s when riverboat tours of the upper Mississippi became fashionable.

Made famous in Longfellow’s epic poem (he never actually visited) the falls are the main feature of the Minnehaha Park, which is run by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

When President Barack Obama visited in 2014, it was almost exactly 50 years since the first presidential visit by President Lyndon B Johnson.

When Johnson visited, however, the city was forced into desperate measures to provide him with the usual spectacle. The Twin Cities area was in the grip of a drought and the creek was reduced to a trickle. The city responded by opening numerous fire hydrants within the catchment so that the president could see the falls in their full glory. An information board by the falls recounts the event. There is also a nice informative metal plaque provided by the Minnesota Geological Society.

Know Before You Go

The light rail blue line will take you directly to the park's station and from there the walk is less than a quarter of a mile on well-made surfaces. If you are on a brief visit to Minneapolis, it is perfectly reasonable and worthwhile to allow an extra hour on your transit to or from the airport and take a short walk to see the falls.

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December 15, 2023

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