How Long Is The Mississippi River (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3,766 Kilometers

The Mississippi River is known to be the second-longest river on the North American continent. It is also counted as the chief river for the second-largest drainage system on the North American continent. The Mississippi River is so long that it comes second only to the Hudson Bay.

The whole river and its tributaries are spread across a wide area of 1.2 million square miles. It makes the Mississippi river almost one-eighth the size of the whole North American continent.

How Long Is The Mississippi River

How Long Is The Mississippi River?

The whole of the Mississippi River originates and ends in the United States only. The starting point of the river is from Lake Itasca, which is Minnesota. Its running course is mainly due south. 

The Mississippi goes through many states in the United States. The river goes through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. While draining through all these states, the river tends to cover a distance of about 3,766 kilometers.

If the length for which the river runs is to be calculated in terms of miles, it runs for 2,340 miles. If drainage basin is to be considered, the Mississippi River is ranked fourteenth worldwide. The total drainage basin of the Mississippi River is 2,980,000 sq. km. or 1,151,00 sq. miles.

The Mississippi River is so long that while crossing over 10 states in the United States, the Mississippi River has many tributaries that either cross or pass along 32 states in the United States. It also crosses through or passes along two provinces in Canada that fall between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian mountain.

The Mississippi River is divided into three parts that are the Upper Mississippi, the middle Mississippi, and the lower Mississippi. The Upper Mississippi is from the river from its headwaters till the Missouri River’s confluence. 

The Middle Mississippi is a downriver from Missouri to Ohio. While the Lower Mississippi starts from Ohio and ends at the Gulf of Mexico.

The annual discharge of the Mississippi river ranges between 200 to 700 thousand cubic feet per second, which is only 8% of the Amazon River’s flow.

MeasurementLength of The Mississippi River
In Kilometers3,766 kilometers
In MIles2,340 miles
In Meters37,66,000 meters

Why Is The Mississippi River So Long?

The Mississippi River is quite well-known for the length for which it runs. There are various reasons why the Mississippi river can measure so long. The reasons are as follows:

  • The primary factor is the way is it is measured. There are two ways in which the Mississippi River is measured. If the length of the Mississippi river is to be calculated the traditional way, then it spans for about 3,766 kilometers or 2340 miles as it is measured from the source of Lake Itasca.
  • If the measurement of the river is to be done from the most distant source like Brower’s spring in Montana, the whole length then is about 5,970 kilometers or 3,710 miles. With that measurement, it becomes the fourth largest river in the world.
  • It is also so long since it crosses almost ten states in the United States. 
  • The whole length is also based on the addition of the three parts of the Mississippi River.

Not just in terms of length, the Mississippi River is also iconic for its depth and Basin size. The depths of the river at the source of Lake Itasca are about 3 feet deep, but the depth increases gradually. The deepest part of the river is in the river in New Orleans. 

The average depth of the river of New Orleans is 50 feet to 100 feet. However, the deepest part of the river of New Orleans is about 200 feet or 61 meters. 


The Mississippi River in the 18th century was a western boundary for the united states. It is also a dividing line between the Eastern, the Southern, the Midwestern, and the Western United States.

Over the centuries, there have been many changes in the course of the flow of the Mississippi River. It has fluctuated the overall length a couple of times.

All facts considered, the Mississippi River is long enough to have the tributaries and the drainage basin of such a volume. 



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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