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Mississippi Gateway Nature Play Area
Mississippi Gateway Regional Park, 10360 West River Road, Brooklyn Park, MN 55444
Hours of Operation:
Mon. 09:00 AM – 05:00 PM
Tue. 09:00 AM – 05:00 PM
Wed. 09:00 AM – 05:00 PM
Thu. 09:00 AM – 05:00 PM
Fri. 09:00 AM – 05:00 PM
Sat. 09:00 AM – 05:00 PM
Sun. 12:00 PM – 05:00 PM
Park Hours 5am-10pm.

Formerly known as Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park (West Side), Three Rivers Park District has recently changed the name to Mississippi Gateway Regional Park to avoid confusion with the park of the same name on the east side of the Mississippi River. Both parks are still connected by the Coon Rapids Dam. If you are looking for the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park in Coon Rapids, click here.

This 160-acre park has family-friendly amenities that include a visitor center, nature play area, a fishing pier, a 12-foot-wide observation walkway on top of the dam, and bike paths. Families enjoying the the park have a chance of seeing a variety of wildlife including river mammals like mink, beaver, an otters. They may also see waterfowl, turtles and birds of prey.

Green and white sign "Nature Exploration Area. Explore, Play, Dig, Rearrange, Discover... Be Safe and Have Fun" found at Mississippi Gateway Regional Park in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

Winter at Mississippi Gateway Regional Park

In winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular activities at this park, but nature play area is fun year round and the visitors center offers a place to warm up. Families can also geocache and hike year round.

Girl and boy playing in tree structure at Mississippi Gateway Regional Park Nature Play Area in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Nature Play Area at Mississippi Gateway Regional Park

Mississippi Gateway Visitor Center

Since North Mississippi Regional Park was taken over completely by Minneapolis Parks in 2016, Three Rivers has been adding more offerings at this park. So, while in past years, the Brooklyn Center visitor center has closed for the winter with reduced hours in spring and fall, it has remained open year-round beginning in the winter of 2016/2017.

As with other Three Rivers visitor centers, families can find outdoor education and recreation programs and explore exhibits including the many native reptiles, amphibians, and river fish on display.

Every other Sunday is “Free Family Funday” when a free nature program is offered. Programming for preschoolers includes “My Preschooler and Me” and “Big River, Small Fry” programs. Outdoor recreation opportunities include “Snowshoe Along the Mississippi,” “Snowshoe Day Date” and “Basic Winter Survival.” The center also offers snowshoe rentals for you to explore the park on your own.

Archery at Mississippi Gateway Regional Park

The Three Rivers portion of this park offers occasional family archery programs. At these events, experts instruct families in the basics of shooting safely and accurately. The program offers fun games for testing skills. Equipment provided. We’ve compiled a list of Twin Cities archery ranges here.

Paddle Share Program

During the summer months, experienced kayakers can rent a one-way kayak through Paddle Share, a self-serve program. Users choose a route, make a reservation and receive an access code, then they can unlock their kayak (with paddle and life jacket) and return the kayak on the other end of their route. Prices range from $30-$50.  Learn more at the Paddle Share website.

Updates to The Park

In September of 2018, Three Rivers approved the final master plan for Mississippi Gateway Regional Park, combining Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and the Brooklyn Park Environmental Nature Area into one regional park facility. The master plan includes new features, including an education and information center, play areas, a tree canopy walk, a beginner cross-country ski loop and an area for snowshoeing. Enhancements to existing features are also planned, including picnic areas, dog off-leash area, archery range, river access for paddling and fishing, and paved trails. Some portions of the park will be left more wild, with non-paved trails and field learning stations for exploring nature.

During the summer of 2020, Three Rivers began Phase II of the Mississippi Gateway Regional Project, which includes a roadway and trail that connect along the Mississippi River’s edge.

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