Great Midwest Vacations Via Trails and Rails

In seeking fresh ideas for spring trips, we found that the road less traveled wasn’t a road at all.

For writer Frank Bures, it was the Mississippi River, which he kayaked from Fort Snelling to Hastings. For scribe Berit Thorkelson, it was the timber-and-steel track between St. Paul’s newly reopened Union Depot and the kid paradise, Wisconsin Dells. Both are journeys so inherently boredom-proof that not once was the phrase “Are we there yet?” uttered.

If tackling Huck Finn’s water trail sounds a little ambitious, you can always embrace the season of adventure with a trip geared toward first-timers (try the DNR’s “I Can Paddle” program at And if you’re intrigued by the train but only have time for a day trip, the Empire Builder can carry you to Red Wing in less than an hour. Whichever direction you point your compass toward, the next few pages will have you primed to float the blue highways and ride the rails.

Mississippi kayaking 

Chapter 1: Two Friends Make an Epic Journey Down the Mississippi



Chapter 2: Taking the Amtrak to Wisconsin Dells Makes the Journey as Fun as the Destination

Editor’s Note: The Making of Trails and Rails