Many people in our region have the misconception that it is unusual that the Red River of the North flows north. There is absolutely nothing weird about a river flowing north. Rivers flow in one direction all over the world, and that direction is downhill. Across the central and eastern United States, it is rare for rivers to flow north because the slope of the land is toward the south and east. Almost all the flowing water in the Great Plains and Upper Midwest flows downhill into the Missouri-Mississippi River system, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico.

Our Red River is an exception to this, but instead of being freaky, it just turns out that downhill here is toward Hudson Bay. Many rivers in northern Canada flow north toward the Arctic Ocean. The Willamette River in Oregon flows north. The Nile flows north. A river that flows uphill would be freaky. The Red River is just fine.

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