With thousands of lakes and hundreds of rivers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, it’s no surprise that boats are a popular item. Minnesotans own more than 800,000 boats, and residents of Wisconsin have registered over 650,000 boats.

For many, owning a boat is a chance to get out on a lake and go fishing. For others, it is a chance to set a sail or go water skiing or tubing. Getting exercise while paddling or rowing inspires many, while some prefer to cruise and relax.

Regional businesses also put boats to work as evidenced by the many barges navigating the Mississippi River.

Boats are a way of life in the RiverTown area, and in this photo project, we take a look at the variety of boats that take to the rivers and lakes in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Boats gather for sun and fun during the 2018 Water Ski Days in Lake City. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Boats gather for sun and fun during the 2018 Water Ski Days in Lake City. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

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Skiers perform during the 2019 Water Ski Days. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Skiers perform during the 2019 Water Ski Days. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

The Afton Princess, part of the St. Croix River Cruises, gets ready for a sunset dinner cruise on June 7, 2019. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
The Afton Princess, part of the St. Croix River Cruises, gets ready for a sunset dinner cruise on June 7, 2019. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

This paddle wheel powers the Pearl of the Lake on cruises throughout the summer on Lake Pepin. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
This paddle wheel powers the Pearl of the Lake on cruises throughout the summer on Lake Pepin. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

Cabin cruisers fill the docks at Vogel’s Harbor in Red Wing on October 8, 2020. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Cabin cruisers fill the docks at Vogel’s Harbor in Red Wing on October 8, 2020. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

Sun highlights a sailboat against the Wisconsin bluffs near Stockholm on October 10, 2020. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Sun highlights a sailboat against the Wisconsin bluffs near Stockholm on October 10, 2020. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

Several sailboats take advantage of good winds on July 21, 2019. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Several sailboats take advantage of good winds on July 21, 2019. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

Pontoon boats offer families plenty of room for an afternoon on the water. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Pontoon boats offer families plenty of room for an afternoon on the water. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

A lone fisherman casts his line near Sandpoint in Lake Pepin. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
A lone fisherman casts his line near Sandpoint in Lake Pepin. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

Kayakers explore the flooded forest in the backwaters of the Mississippi River near Nelson, Wis. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Kayakers explore the flooded forest in the backwaters of the Mississippi River near Nelson, Wis. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

Kinni Creek Outfitters in River Falls has rental kayaks for six different trips on the Kinnickinnic River. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Kinni Creek Outfitters in River Falls has rental kayaks for six different trips on the Kinnickinnic River. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

A couple enjoys the speed and maneuverability of a Sea-Doo in front of autumn leaves. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
A couple enjoys the speed and maneuverability of a Sea-Doo in front of autumn leaves. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

Gusty winds propel this kitesurfer on Lake Pepin on October 11, 2020. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Gusty winds propel this kitesurfer on Lake Pepin on October 11, 2020. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

Shrink-wrapped boats prepare for winter at Hansen’s Harbor near Frontenac. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Shrink-wrapped boats prepare for winter at Hansen’s Harbor near Frontenac. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

A DN-class ice boat racer enjoys perfect conditions during a regional championship race on Lake Pepin on January 5, 2019. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
A DN-class ice boat racer enjoys perfect conditions during a regional championship race on Lake Pepin on January 5, 2019. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees prepare for an ice survey using an airboat on February 12, 2019. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees prepare for an ice survey using an airboat on February 12, 2019. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

Scott Powers, retired sheriff’s deputy, mans the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Department boat near Red Wing on August 29, 2018. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Scott Powers, retired sheriff’s deputy, mans the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Department boat near Red Wing on August 29, 2018. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

The Lil Charlie tow boat moves a barge into a fleet in Red Wing. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
The Lil Charlie tow boat moves a barge into a fleet in Red Wing. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

Crew members prepare a barge to enter Lock and Dame 4 near Alma, Wis. on July 16, 2019. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
Crew members prepare a barge to enter Lock and Dame 4 near Alma, Wis. on July 16, 2019. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia



The boat houses near Bay Point Park in Red Wing as seen from the top of Barn Bluff/He Mne Can on October 8, 2020. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
The boat houses near Bay Point Park in Red Wing as seen from the top of Barn Bluff/He Mne Can on October 8, 2020. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia