The Big Fork River watershed covers 1,326,947 acres; the river flows north 165 miles from Dora Lake (45 miles northeast of Bemidji in north-central Itasca County) to the Rainy River, which forms the Minnesota/Canadian border.
Minnesota watershed information
The Blue Earth River begins in northern Iowa and meets with the West Branch Blue Earth River in Faribault County. The watershed includes parts of eight counties in southern Minnesota and four in northern Iowa.
The Bois de Sioux River watershed covers 718,685 acres, and includes the drainage basins of Lake Traverse and the Bois de Sioux River.
The Buffalo River Watershed covers more than 1,100 square miles in portions of Becker, Clay, Otter Tail, and Wilkin counties.
The Cannon River watershed is located south of the Twin Cities and encompasses areas of Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, Steele, Rice and Waseca counties.
The Cedar River watershed in Minnesota encompasses 454,029 acres in Mower, Freeborn, Dodge, and Steele counties. This watershed covers prime agricultural land with many streams and drainage ditches flowing into the river.
The Chippewa River watershed covers 2,085 square miles and drains portions of eight counties in west central Minnesota.
The Clearwater River watershed drains an area of 886,600 acres in the Red River of the North basin. The river flows to the northwest and southwest, eventually emptying into Red Lake River near Red Lake Falls.
The Cloquet River watershed covers approximately 507,858 acres (794 square miles) and is located within portions of Lake and St. Louis Counties in northeastern Minnesota.
The Cottonwood River is located in southwestern Minnesota in the counties of Brown, Cottonwood, Lyon, Murray, and Redwood. It begins near Balaton in southwest Lyon County.
The Crow Wing River Watershed is located in north-central Minnesota and covers approximately 1,946 square miles within Becker, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Morrison, Otter Tail, Todd, and Wadena Counties.
The Des Moines River - Headwaters watershed is located in southwestern Minnesota. It covers approximately 1,334 square miles including parts of Lyon, Pipestone, Murray, Cottonwood, Nobles, Jackson, and Martin counties.
The Duluth Urban Area Watershed is a focused geographic area designed to recognize the complexity and challenges in an urban center with a water-rich environment. It is defined by a series of small watersheds that are portions of three major watersheds.
The East Fork Des Moines River watershed covers 839,518 acres, which includes Minnesota's Martin and Jackson counties.
The Kettle River watershed covers 672,235 acres in northeast Minnesota, covering parts of Aitkin, Carlton, Kanabec, and Pine counties.
The Lac qui Parle watershed covers approximately 1,100 square miles and drains parts of Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, and Yellow Medicine counties in Minnesota as well as parts of Grant, Deuel, and Brookings counties in South Dakota.
The Lake of the Woods lies on the border between the U.S. and Canada; the watershed covers 734,783 acres.
The Lake Superior - North watershed covers over 1 million acres in the Northern Lakes and Forest ecoregion.
Located in south-central Minnesota, the Le Sueur River flows 111 miles through a gently rolling landscape, most of it farmland, until it cuts down through high bluffs to the Blue Earth River.
The Leech Lake River watershed consists of approximately 854,659 acres (1,335 sq. miles) in the northern part of the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The watershed includes parts of Beltrami, Cass, and Hubbard counties and the Leech Lake Reservation (Leech Lake Band of Chippewa).
The Little Fork River watershed is 1,179,520 acres, the main stem flowing 160 miles through north-central St. Louis County and heading northwest into Koochiching County. It flows more northerly until it reaches its confluence with the Rainy River about 11 miles west of International Falls.
The Little Sioux River watershed covers 1,812,406 acres in southwestern Minnesota. Its small prairie streams flow through the southern portions of Nobles and Jackson counties and into Iowa.
The Long Prairie River watershed covers approximately 565,078 acres and is located in the central part of the Upper Mississippi River Basin in central Minnesota. The watershed encompasses parts of Douglas, Otter Tail, Todd, Morrison and Wadena counties.
The Lower Big Sioux River watershed covers 2,188,399 acres, mostly located in eastern South Dakota. A small portion lies in western parts of Lincoln, Pipestone, and Rock counties in southwestern Minnesota. There are several small to medium-sized tributaries.
The Lower Des Moines River watershed is located in southwestern Minnesota. It covers approximately 703,000 acres.
The Lower Minnesota River watershed includes the lowest reach of the Minnesota River and flows into the Mississippi at Fort Snelling. The second-largest watershed in the Minnesota River Basin, it covers 1,760 square miles, divided by the Minnesota River itself.
The Lower Rainy River Watershed is composed of a conglomeration of tributaries to the Rainy River, from International Falls and west to the Rainy River's pour point at the Lake of the Woods.
The Lower Red River watershed (also known as the Red River of the North - Tamarac River) drains an area of 281,000 acres, including parts of Kittson, Marshall, and Roseau counties.
The Lower St. Croix watershed covers 585,735 acres and is located in northwest Wisconsin and east-central Minnesota.
The Minnesota River - Headwaters watershed covers 487,015 acres in the Prairie Parkland ecoregion of southwestern Minnesota. Portions of Traverse, Big Stone, Swift, Lac qui Parle, Stevens, and Chippewa counties drain the watershed.
The Minnesota River-Mankato watershed covers 861,886 acres across Cottonwood, Brown, Redwood, Renville, Sibley, Nicollet, Blue Earth, and Le Sueur counties in south-central Minnesota.
The Minnesota River - Yellow Medicine River watershed (1.3 million acres) has traditionally been managed as two separate watersheds, the Hawk Creek watershed to the north of the Minnesota River and the Yellow Medicine River watershed to the south.
The Mississippi River - Brainerd watershed covers 1,079,950 acres in the north-central part of the Upper Mississippi River Basin in central Minnesota. The watershed encompasses all or parts of Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, and Todd counties.
The Mississippi River - Grand Rapids watershed covers 1,316,071 acres and contains 1,908 miles of stream/rivers and 552 lakes greater than 10 acres. The watershed drainage comprises parts of the counties of Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Itasca, and St. Louis.
The Mississippi River - Headwaters watershed consists of 1,255,105 acres (1,961 square miles) and contains the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park. The watershed includes parts of Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard and Itasca counties.
The Mississippi River - La Crescent watershed drains 95 square miles in Houston and southeast Winona counties, an area defined by wooded bluffs and spring-fed cold-water streams that flow directly to the Mississippi River.
The Mississippi River - Lake Pepin watershed includes 205,747 acres that drain several small, coldwater streams in bedrock-dominated bluff country.
This watershed is located in the southeastern tip of Minnesota, known for its scenic bluffs. More than 900,000 acres drain to the Mississippi River at Reno, Minn., but only 117,000 of those acres are in Minnesota.
The Mississippi River - Sartell watershed covers approximately 652,800 acres (1,020 sq. miles) in the central part of the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The watershed includes parts of Benton, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Stearns, and Todd counties.
The Mississippi River - St. Cloud watershed covers 691,200 acres (1,080 square miles) in the south-central part of the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The watershed includes all or parts of the counties of Benton, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, and Wright.
The Mississippi River - Twin Cities watershed is 656,990 acres and lies almost entirely in the North Central Hardwoods Forest ecoregion in the Mississippi River Basin. The watershed contains 1,320 stream miles and 380 lakes. More than 1.8 million people live in this watershed.
The Mississippi River - Winona watershed covers 419,200 acres in Wabasha, Winona, and Olmsted counties in southeast Minnesota. A majority of the watershed is cropland, with forest and grassland covering large portions as well.
The Mustinka River begins its course southwest of Fergus Falls in southwestern Otter Tail County and flows towards the south into Grant County, where it continues through Stony Brook Lake and Lightning Lake.
The Nemadji River watershed spans the Minnesota-Wisconsin border and covers nearly 1.2 million acres.
The Otter Tail River watershed encompasses three different ecoregions, covering more than 1.2 million acres in west-central Minnesota.
The Pine River watershed is approximately 502,400 acres in size. The watershed drainage for the Pine River contains parts of Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing and Hubbard counties. Pine River and Crosslake are the major cities in the watershed.
The Pomme de Terre River begins cool and clear in Otter Tail County, bordered by wooded hills and grassy meadows. It flows south through several lakes; as the river nears its mouth, it is bordered by eroding banks, becoming increasingly muddy before discharging into the Minnesota River at Marsh Lake.
The Rainy River - Headwaters watershed covers 1,890,689 acres, starting in northern Cook and Lake Counties and flowing west/northwesterly into St. Louis County and the Canadian border waters.
The Rainy River - Rainy Lake watershed covers 583,791 acres. Open water makes up 75,815 of those acres and wetlands occupy another 84,851 acres. The watershed is 64% in St. Louis County and 36% in Koochiching County. The northern boundary is part of the international border waters with Ontario, Canada.
The Rapid River watershed covers 573,060 acres in northern Minnesota. Over 79% of the land in the watershed is owned or managed by state entities.
The Red Lake River watershed, which covers 909,024 acres, is part of the Red River Basin in northwestern Minnesota. The Red Lake River begins its course in Beltrami County at Lower Red Lake.
The Red River of the North - Grand Marais Creek watershed covers 298,264 acres and is part of the Red River Basin in northwestern Minnesota and southeastern North Dakota.
The Red River of the North - Marsh River watershed is part of the Red River Basin in northwestern Minnesota and southeastern North Dakota.
The Red River of the North - Sand Hill River watershed covers 708,469 acres and is part of the Red River Basin in northwestern Minnesota and southeastern North Dakota.
The Redeye River watershed covers 575,366 acres (899 square miles) and is located the northwestern to north-central part of the Upper Mississippi River Basin in central Minnesota. The watershed encompasses all or parts of Becker, Otter Tail, Todd, and Wadena counties.
The Redwood River is located in southwestern Minnesota in the counties of Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Pipestone, Redwood, and Yellow Medicine.
The Rock River watershed covers more than 1 million acres in Rock, Nobles, Pipestone and Murray counties in southwestern Minnesota. It is the largest of the four watersheds in Minnesota that are part of the Missouri River Basin, extending south into Iowa.
The Root River starts as a drainage ditch in Mower County, then winds 81 miles from intensely farmed areas through more wooded, rolling terrain, and finally empties into the Mississippi River south of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Near Forestville State Park, the river literally disappears underground and resurfaces at the Mystery Cave near Preston.
The Minnesota portion of the Roseau River watershed covers 774,197 acres; an additional 594,560 acres are across the U.S. border in Canada.
The Rum River watershed covers 997,060 acres in east-central Minnesota, covering parts of Aitkin, Crow Wing, Morrison, Mille Lacs, Kanabec, Benton, Isanti, Chisago, Sherburne, and Anoka counties.
The Sauk River watershed covers 667,200 acres (1,043 square miles) and extends from the Mississippi River near St. Cloud to within 3 miles of Alexandria. The overall watershed is about 75 miles in length. The Sauk River itself meanders for 120 miles in a northwest-to-southeast direction.
The Shell Rock River begins at Albert Lea Lake in Freeborn County in south-central Minnesota, a few miles from the Iowa border. It flows 113 miles into Iowa, where it enters the Cedar River. In Minnesota, the Shell Rock drains 246 square miles (160,000 acres), all in Freeborn County.
The Snake River begins its 50-mile course in Marshall County and drains an area of 611,800 acres. The Snake River Watershed lies within Marshall, Polk, and Pennington Counties in NW Minnesota.
The Snake River watershed is located north of the Twin Cities in the St. Croix River Basin and encompasses 1,006 square miles in five counties: Aitkin, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Pine, and Isanti.
The South Fork Crow River watershed covers 818,428 acres. It is located in south-central Minnesota and encompasses parts of Kandiyohi, Renville, Meeker, McLeod, Sibley, Wright, Carver, and Hennepin counties.
The St. Louis River watershed covers 3,584 square miles at the head of the Great Lakes and represents the extreme headwaters of the St. Lawrence River.
The Thief River begins its course in Marshall County at Thief Lake, flowing south/southwest to converge with the Red Lake River.
The Two Rivers watershed is part of the Red River Basin in northwestern Minnesota. Two Rivers actually consists of three branches: the North, Middle, and South Branch.
Only a very small portion of the 1.35-million-acre Upper Big Sioux River watershed is located in Lincoln County in western Minnesota. The vast majority is located in eastern South Dakota.
The Upper Iowa River is a 156-mile-long tributary of the Mississippi River that rises in Mower County in southeastern Minnesota near the Iowa border. It then flows south through three Iowa counties before flowing into the Mississippi. It drains nearly 641,000 acres (1,005 square miles).
The Upper Red River watershed drains an area of 371,689 acres in the Glacial Lake Agassiz Plain, while the extreme southeastern portion of the basin lies in the North Central Hardwoods ecoregion. The Red River begins its course just below Breckenridge, Minn.
Streams of the Upper St. Croix Watershed are among the most biologically intact, healthy, and resilient of watersheds in Minnesota.
Located in southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa, the Upper Wapsipinicon watershed lies within the Eastern Iowa and Minnesota Drift Plains portion of the Western Corn Belt Plains ecoregion.
The Upper/Lower Red Lake watershed covers more than 1.2 million acres and is home to Upper and Lower Red Lakes, the two largest bodies of water within the state.
The Vermilion River watershed, located within northern St. Louis County, covers 662,427 acres, or 1,035 square miles.
One of 12 major watersheds of the Minnesota River Basin, the Watonwan River watershed covers 878 square miles in south-central Minnesota.
The Wild Rice River begins its course at Mud Lake in Minnesota's Clearwater County, and flows largely to the west through Norman and Mahnomen counties.
This Winnebago River consists of a stream and lake system in southern Minnesota that flows into Iowa. The water resources here face several water quality challenges, including high nutrient and bacteria levels.