Wednesday, July 24, 2024

The Prime 6 Scenic Byways in Minnesota


Certainly one of Minnesota’s nicknames is “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” It truly has nearer to 12,000. And whereas the state is within the Higher Midwest, a area identified for prairies and agriculture, Minnesota is hardly landlocked. Many of the state’s japanese border is both river or the magnificent Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake by floor space. Anchored by the tradition and class of the Twin Cities to the southeast, Minnesota’s scenic byways uncover a state cloaked in forests and farms. With rivers and lakes in each path, it’s the land of the Anishinaabe and Dakota, curling, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. And with out Minnesota, there’d be no Mississippi River.

  1. North Shore Scenic Drive – All-American Street
  2. Nice River Street – All-American Street
  3. Grand Rounds – Nationwide Scenic Byway
  4. Paul Bunyan – Nationwide Scenic Byway
  5. Historic Bluff Nation – Nationwide Scenic Byway
  6. Minnesota River Valley – Nationwide Scenic Byway

North Shore Scenic Drive – All-American Street – 150 miles + 112 to drive Gunflint Path Scenic Byway

Driving north of Minneapolis/St. Paul on I-35, it’s 2.5 hours to one among Minnesota’s most attractive cities and the beginning of the state’s finest byway. Duluth is strategically positioned at Lake Superior’s westernmost level, the place the St. Louis River flows into the lake, forming the border with Wisconsin. Copper, iron ore and lumber together with the railroad made Duluth a serious transport hub. In actual fact, within the early 1900s the port was busier than New York, dealing with extra cargo tons yearly than the Huge Apple. After falling on onerous occasions, the town has made a comeback with a thriving artwork and music scene, hip eating places and breweries and quite a few museums. Different notable points of interest embody the Nice Lakes Aquarium, North Shore Scenic Railroad with rides alongside Lake Superior and the Aerial Carry Bridge, the world’s greatest and quickest elevate bridge.

There are a number of outside outfitters within the metropolis, too, testifying to Duluth’s connection to nature. It’s the gateway to virtually any freshwater exercise you’ll be able to dream up with North Shore Scenic Drive offering the primary entry. Stretching 150 miles from Duluth to the Canadian border, the route options eight state parks and 5 waysides with mountain climbing, tenting and water recreation.

Following the Lake Superior shoreline and heading northeast, I-35 shortly turns into Minnesota State Freeway 61. About 6.5 miles out of Duluth, you should definitely keep on previous MN 61 as an alternative of the four-lane freeway. The 2-lane route gives seashore entry and water views with much less site visitors. Alongside the drive, cozy motels, cafes, artwork galleries and Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse, famed for its smoked fish, give the byway an area taste.

From Duluth, the primary massive city you’ll come to is Two Harbors. After Duluth, it’s the second largest group on the byway. Snuggled between Agate Bay and Burlington Bay, the city is a working port with seashores, tenting and a few fascinating historic points of interest. Two Harbors Lighthouse is the oldest working lighthouse in Minnesota. Anchored within the water close by is the Edna G. Inbuilt 1896, she was one of the crucial highly effective tugboats of her time. And each Thursday night all through the summer time, the Two Harbors Metropolis Band, Minnesota’s oldest repeatedly working metropolis band, performs underneath the bandshell in Thomas Owens Park.

The headlands, cliffs, pebbly seashores and thick forests on this highway journey actually start to shine past Two Harbors. Previous and new MN 61 merge to change into one freeway that climbs bluffs and passes via tunnels. From the assorted overlooks, large Lake Superior appears like an ocean, however its crisp, clear scent is that of the world’s largest freshwater lake by floor space. By comparability, the saline Caspian Sea is earth’s largest lake and Russia’s Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest freshwater lake. Shaped by volcanoes and glaciers, Lake Superior incorporates extra water than the opposite 4 Nice Lakes mixed, so massive it has its personal climate patterns.

Greater than 200 rivers feed Lake Superior and in Minnesota this implies lots of waterfalls. From Two Harbors, it’s 13 miles northeast to Gooseberry Falls State Park with a campground, a number of mountain climbing trails and 5 waterfalls. 

From Gooseberry, it’s simply seven extra miles to Break up Rock Lighthouse State Park. Whereas the shoreline, lake views, mountain climbing trails and tenting are highlights, the star is the lighthouse. Perched on a cliff and providing excursions, the stately 1909 lighthouse is among the most photographed websites in Minnesota.

From Break up Rock, Tettegouche is the following state park and also you’ll need to cease first at Palisade Head, about 11 miles from Break up Rock. This chilling characteristic isn’t for individuals who worry heights. Palisade Head is the best cliff on Lake Superior, plunging 300 ft to the water beneath. There’s no fence or rail. Rock climbers fearlessly scale the partitions, including to the depth. It’s one other two miles up MN 61 to the primary a part of Tettegouche State Park with extra campgrounds, trails and waterfalls. The steep lake overlooks and seashores are notably beautiful.

After Tettegouche one other sting of fairly parks lengthen up MN 61: George Crosby Manitou State Park, Caribou Falls State Wayside, Temperance River State Park and Cascade River State Park. So, there are many choices for tenting, fishing, kayaking and mountain climbing on busy summer time weekends and holidays. 

Grand Marais is the following main city, 50 miles from Tettegouche State Park. Geared to vacationers, Grand Marais has crafts, espresso, ice cream and a lovely boat-filled harbor.

Grand Marais can be the beginning of one other inspirational highway journey, the Gunflint Path Scenic Byway. This 56-mile a method trek on paved County Street 12 goes away from Lake Superior and deep into Minnesota’s North Woods. The byway passes via the best elements of Minnesota with numerous lakes, limitless timber and plenty of potential wildlife sightings. Be careful for moose. The highway useless ends at Path’s Finish Campground and the Boundary Waters Canoe Space Wilderness, only a brief distance from Canada.

Again in Grand Marais and following Lake Superior northeast, North Shore Scenic Drive is now within the coronary heart of Superior Nationwide Forest, the place woodlands run to the sting of the Nice Lake. From Grand Marais it’s 14 miles to Choose C.R. Magney State Park the place a two-mile roundtrip hike results in Satan’s Kettle, a exceptional waterfall the place half of the cascade disappears right into a gap after flowing round a big outcropping.

From Choose C.R. Magney, it’s 21 miles on MN 61 to Grand Portage Nationwide Monument. The Canadian border is just some minutes farther. Located within the present-day homeland of the Grand Portage Anishinaabe, the monument preserves a serious fur commerce space from the late 1700s. Because the Nationwide Park Basis notes, “Earlier than america and Canada existed, the buying and selling of furs, concepts and genes between the Ojibwe and French and English fur merchants flourished.” The monument is a residing historical past museum with interpreters and demonstrations. Housing greater than 100,00 objects, it contains a formidable recreation of the North West Firm Depot in addition to native Anishinaabe paintings and a set of canoes. In August, the monument hosts Grand Portage Rendezvous Days. The free two-day occasion is open to everybody and contains music, dancing, craft demonstrations and hands-on workshops. And also you’re not required to put on interval clothes! On the identical time, the Grand Portage Band hosts a powwow inside strolling distance of the monument. 

Grand Portage can be a launching level to Michigan’s Isle Royale Nationwide Park which lies just a few miles offshore inside eyesight of the mainland. The island is barely accessible by water or seaplane and no automobiles are allowed.

Six miles from the monument and bordering Canada is the final of the eight state parks positioned alongside the scenic byway. There’s no tenting however Grand Portage State Park presents picnicking, mountain climbing, a simple stroll to Minnesota’s tallest waterfall and views of Canada throughout the Pigeon River. That is the byway’s finish however if you wish to cross into Canada, it’s 45 minutes to Thunder Bay. Like Duluth however bigger, Thunder Bay can be an out of doors fanatic’s heaven with an impressive Lake Superior setting.

Nice River Street – All-American Street – 575 miles

Mississippi River flowing north near its source at Itasca State Park in Minnesota. This sign is at one of the first bridges over the Mississippi River.

Its monumental measurement, habitat range and cultural significance are simply a few of the causes the Mississippi River is America’s biggest waterway. For the river’s complete 2,552 miles, roads typically observe it, many occasions alongside each banks. From Wisconsin and Iowa to the Louisiana delta, these highways are designated as scenic byways. However Minnesota’s is especially particular as a result of that is the place the river begins. With out the North Star State, there wouldn’t be a Mighty Mississip’. 

The byway begins at Itasca State Park in northcentral Minnesota, some 215 miles northwest of Minneapolis and about 100 miles northeast of Fargo, North Dakota. Itasca options greater than 100 lakes and an previous progress forest. Tenting, fishing and birding are high pastimes. The Jacob V. Brower Customer Middle has academic reveals and a present store. Following the lake 5 miles north is the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Middle the place a brief stroll results in the beginning of the river, so slim you’ll be able to step throughout! The Headwaters Middle has an out of doors interpretive heart on the world’s pure and cultural historical past.

Earlier than heading south, the Mississippi flows north and so the byway zigzags to the northeast for 32 miles earlier than reaching Bemidji, the primary metropolis on the river. A university city with all of the fundamentals, its most well-known attraction is the oft photographed 18-foot-tall statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, made for the 1937 winter carnival. A legendary American people hero, legend credit the burly, bigger than life lumberjack for making canyons, rivers and lakes, similar to Lake Bemidji, the one Paul and his devoted companion stand beside. Close by, a bronze statue commemorates Chief Bemidji. Often known as Shaynowishkung, he lived by the lake within the mid-1800s and was a beloved member and spokesperson for the Ojibwa tribe. Bemidji can be identified for a Spring Powwow that’s open to all and a downtown Sculpture Stroll with greater than 25 artistic endeavors you’ll be able to see anytime.

From Bemidji, the byway heads east on US 2 via the Chippewa Nationwide Forest. That is lumber and lake nation. With greater than a thousand lakes within the space, fishing is massive with quite a few resorts arrange for anglers in search of bass, crappies, perch, trout, walleye and muskellunge, aka “muskie.”

Grand Rapids is one other good-sized city the place Judy Garland was born. The star’s restored childhood house is now a museum and present store. The Forest Historical past Middle is the place to be taught in regards to the North Woods and lumberjacks. There’s an authentically recreated logging camp with cookshack, bunkhouse and blacksmith store. Climbing the 100-foot hearth tower places the highway journey in perspective with excellent views of Grand Rapids, the Mississippi River and surrounding forests. The Itasca County Historic Society is a well-regarded native museum with reveals on Native Individuals, European settlers, the Mississippi, logging, the railroad and, after all, Judy Garland.

The Mississippi River then turns south for its lengthy journey to the Gulf of Mexico. From Grand Rapids, the following fascinating cease is 70 miles to Cuyuna Nation State Recreation Space the place deserted mining pits and rock deposit stockpiles have been become lakes and biking trails. Boating, canoeing and fishing are common. The realm is generally undeveloped however there’s a campground. Potential wildlife sightings embody pink fox, mink, muskrat and beaver plus lots of birds like bald eagles, nice blue herons, ruffed grouse and plenty of species of geese and geese.

Brainerd lies 15 miles farther south with gasoline, groceries and eating places. 9 miles extra is Crow Wing State Park, with woodsy hikes, tenting and views of the Mississippi. The river is calm right here so it’s a superb place to strive canoeing in case you’re new to the game. There’s additionally Previous Crow Wing Village, the remnants of a frontier ghost city.

From Crow Wing, proceed 23 miles south to Little Falls and the Minnesota Fishing Museum, Corridor of Fame & Training Middle. With so many freshwater lakes, the game is essential to Minnesota: culturally, economically and as a treasured pastime. The museum shows greater than 20,000 artifacts together with lures, reels, canoes, boats, a re-created old-time fish camp, mounted fish and an aquarium with reside native species. Little Falls can be the place you’ll discover one other interesting state park. Charles A. Lindbergh has tenting, canoeing, birding and canoeing on the Mississippi. It sits adjoining to Charles Lindbergh Home and Museum, the childhood house of the aviation pioneer who piloted the primary nonstop solo flight throughout the Atlantic. The museum contains reveals, mannequin planes, historic flight footage and a duplicate of the Spirit of St. Louis cockpit.

From Little Falls, it’s 33 miles to St. Cloud. Up to now, it’s the largest metropolis alongside the Nice River Street the place eating places, breweries and bakeries abound. The Munsinger Clemens Gardens are a high sight with two distinct botanical gardens. Set on the banks of the Mississippi, 14-acre Munsinger options meandering flower-bordered paths underneath tall pines. Throughout the highway on a hill, seven-acre Clemens is extra formal and European-style with fountains and a rose backyard.

Horticulture and agriculture are additionally on show on the Oliver Kelley Farm, 40 miles southeast of St. Cloud in Elk River. Very best for teenagers, the 1860s homestead has a barn, cattle, fields, instruments, equipment and an historic home. Nature trails alongside the Mississippi wind via forest and rejuvenated prairie.

The primary main metropolis the Mississippi passes via is Minneapolis, about 32 miles southeast of Elk River. Learn our entry beneath on the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway to be taught in regards to the river-related points of interest in Minnesota’s largest metropolis.

Shifting onto Minneapolis’ “twin” and the state capital of Minnesota, St. Paul is house to the Mississippi River Customer Middle. It’s run by the Nationwide Park Service with shows on the river’s biology, historical past and tradition. The customer heart sits simply off the foyer of the Science Museum of Minnesota. Anchored by the five-story-high Big Astronaut floating within the atrium, the Science Museum’s reveals embody the Mississippi River and Dinosaurs & Fossils galleries. Shows on the close by Minnesota Historical past Middle cowl Minnesota’s Native communities, farming, mining and the state’s loopy climate. Whereas the Customer Middle is free, the Science Museum and Historical past Middle cost admission.

Heading again into the countryside, the Nice River Street leaves the town and travels 60 miles southeast to 2,300-acre Frontenac State Park, a stunning setting on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi with Wisconsin simply throughout the river. That includes prairie and forest topography, Frontenac is understood for mountain climbing and fall colours. Fishing, swimming and boat excursions are common, too, however the park is especially notable for its birdlife. Greater than 260 species have been recorded and it’s one of many nation’s finest spots to watch spring and fall migration. The campground sits on the sting of a bluff, 430 ft above the Mississippi.

From the park, it’s 23 miles down the river to Wabasha and the Nationwide Eagle Middle. This part of the Mississippi is understood for bald and golden eagles. The middle has a number of non-releasable bald eagles and presents demonstrations in addition to “floating classroom” experiences on river cruises and land-based habitat excursions led by naturalists.

Winona is one other 32 miles south. As soon as a bustling river port, the city now tempts guests with an historic Victorian downtown, donuts from the long-lasting Bloedow Bakery and mountain climbing on Sugar Loaf Bluff. Over twenty years, the well-regarded Nice River Shakespeare Pageant has change into a summer time custom. And the Minnesota Marine Artwork Museum showcases historic and modern work impressed by water in a surprising location alongside the Mississippi.

From Winona, the Nice River Street parallels the Mississippi one other 50 miles to the Iowa border. Our article on the Hawkeye State’s section of the byway picks up the highway journey from there. La Crescent lies 27 miles south of Winona on the Nice River Street and is the beginning of the Historic Bluff Nation Scenic Byway, profiled beneath.

Grand Rounds – Nationwide Scenic Byway – 52 miles

There aren’t lots of metro areas with scenic byways that journey fully inside the town limits. However Minneapolis isn’t your common American city. The town’s plentiful leafy, inexperienced parks, trails, lakes and parkways are just some examples of how Minneapolis emphasizes a top quality of life. The Grand Rounds Scenic Byway connects many of those outside jewels. The system was first known as “Grand Rounds” by William Watts Folwell in 1891. He was an educator, author, historian and the College of Minnesota’s first president. For many years the Grand Rounds has been thought-about a high American city parkway system. The byway can be one of many nation’s longest steady metropolis routes, winding for greater than 50 miles.

Naturally, the Mississippi performs a central position with this byway. Because the river passes via the middle of Minneapolis and neighboring St. Paul, the water and its banks are primarily one nonstop park. Two miles northwest of downtown Minneapolis, the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway begins at Ole Olson Park. Known as each West River Street and Nice River Street, this half makes up a tiny part of the in depth byway operating from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, as profiled above.

Paralleling the river to downtown, strolling trails and bikeways are discovered alongside the highway. Minneapolis has many excellent points of interest however this itinerary will concentrate on ones particular to Grand Rounds. The primary cease features a waterfall, bridge and previous mill. Search for paid parking at Stone Arch Parking the place a brief stroll results in St. Anthony Falls. For a distinct angle on the waterfall, head throughout Stone Arch Bridge. Accomplished in 1883 for trains, right now solely pedestrians observe the beautiful 20-plus limestone arches and spans throughout the Mississippi. In a metropolis crammed with museums, the Mill Metropolis Museum is exclusive with spectacular views of the bridge and falls. At one time, Minneapolis was known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World.” The railroad transported Midwest grain and the river powered what was as soon as the planet’s largest flour mill. The Baking Lab, Water Lab and eight-level Flour Tower inform the story whereas an remark deck gives panoramas of the river and metropolis.

From the museum and downtown, proceed south alongside the West River Parkway 5 miles to Mississippi Gorge Regional Park. Set on steep bluffs in hardwood forests, it presents extra biking and strolling alongside the Mississippi with glorious fall colours.

Two miles farther is Minnehaha Regional Park, one of many metropolis’s most stunning and common parks. Although it runs alongside the Mississippi, the park is centered on Minnehaha Creek which flows into the Mississippi right here. The park has gardens, limestone bluffs and river overlooks however it’s finest identified for 53-foot-high Minnehaha Falls. Although Henry Wadsworth Longfellow by no means noticed the waterfall in particular person, he wrote about it in The Tune of Hiawatha, turning Minnehaha Falls right into a world-famous web site. The close by Longfellow Home is a renovated 1906 duplicate of the poet’s house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s now the data heart for the Grand Rounds Nationwide Scenic Byway.

From Longfellow home, go one other three miles south to Historic Fort Snelling. It’s place on the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers made it strategically necessary to the U.S. army. Accomplished in 1825, the fort’s location was spiritually vital to the Dakota individuals for hundreds of years. They known as it Bdóte, that means “assembly of waters.” Earlier than the Civil Warfare, troopers have been allowed to convey their private enslaved individuals. Within the 1830s, Dred Scott and his spouse, Harriet, lived on the fort after which finally sued for his or her freedom. Within the notorious Dred Scott v. Sandford resolution, the U.S. Supreme Courtroom dominated that enslaved individuals weren’t U.S. residents and thus, couldn’t anticipate safety from the federal authorities. In the course of the US-Dakota Warfare of 1862, Fort Snelling held non-combatant Dakota individuals in an out of doors camp. It’s estimated that 130 to 300 of them died throughout the winter from measles, different illnesses and the cruel situations. At this time, the fort has a customer heart with reveals and guided excursions of the buildings and grounds. 

Fort Snelling is adjoining to Minneapolis–Saint Paul Worldwide Airport. From right here, the route modifications path, transferring away from the Mississippi River and heading 4 miles north and west to Lake Nokomis, named for Hiawatha’s grandmother in Longfellow’s The Tune of Hiawatha. It’s one among three crusing lakes within the Minneapolis park system. Canoeing, kayaking, boating, paddle boarding and biking are additionally common and leases can be found.

Subsequent, it’s one other 4 miles northwest to Chain of Lakes and the shorelines of Bde Maka Ska, Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles and Lake Harriet, every providing a myriad of actions. The Roberts Chicken Sanctuary and Lyndale Park Gardens are highlights.

Trails join the Chain of Lakes and as you progress north, the byway is now west of downtown Minneapolis. The route then crosses I-394 to Theodore Wirth, the town’s largest park. Sports activities like golf, disc golf, tennis, archery, kayaking, mountain biking and cross-country snowboarding are massive right here. The Eloise Butler Wildflower Backyard and Chicken Sanctuary reveals off the park’s softer, extra serene facet. These are the byway’s principal highlights. Try the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s web site for specifics. 

Paul Bunyan – Nationwide Scenic Byway – 55 miles

A few 2.5-hour drive northwest of Minneapolis is an space of forests and lakes that’s been common with vacationers for generations. Winding via the center of Minnesota, the attraction of this highway journey isn’t about visiting particular points of interest. As an alternative, it’s an experiential journey of biking, mountain climbing, birding, kayaking and stress-free in cabins and lodges. Whichever manner you select to meander, you’re by no means too removed from a golf course or campground. For many years, fishing resorts have catered to anglers trying to hook bass, crappie, northern pike, sunfish, trout and walleye. Many eating places characteristic the native catch on their menus.

Beginning in Pine River, the byway makes two loops because it follows a collection of paved county and state highways. Legend says the lakes round right here have been made by the boots of Paul Bunyan because the lumberjack strode via the countryside with ax in hand and Babe the Blue Ox by his facet. Geologists will inform you that glaciers extra doubtless shaped the panorama. Nonetheless, Paul Bunyan and his tall tales determine prominently alongside this byway. 

The Dakota individuals lived on this area till the 1700s when the Ojibwe moved in from the east. Europeans launched the fur commerce, logging and mining. At this time, tourism drives the financial system. Pine River is one among a handful of communities with eating places, present retailers, artwork galleries, gasoline and provides. It additionally has a customer heart with byway data and maps. From Pine River, the drive east on County Street 1 passes via forests and agricultural fields whereas skirting to the north of the 14 interconnected Whitefish Chain of Lakes. Facet roads result in the shores. 

At County Street 66, go south to County Street 16 which heads again west following the southern shores of Higher and Decrease Whitefish lakes. Or proceed south on County Street 66 to the city of Crosslake the place the late 1800s-era Crosslake Historic Log Village preserves a number of buildings furnished with artifacts. From Crosslake, take County Street 3 south to County Street 11 and go west to Breezy Level. The route then proceed onto Pequot Lakes, one other small group with a water tower painted to appear like Paul Bunyan’s fishing bobber.

Driving Minnesota State Freeway 371 north, it’s ten miles from Pequot Lakes to Pine River. Operating parallel to the scenic byway for a brief manner is the 115-mile Paul Bunyan State Path, the longest repeatedly paved rail-trail within the U.S. Constructed for biking, strolling, operating, in-line skating and snowmobiling, the south-to-north path extends from Crow Wing State Park to Lake Bemidji State Park.

This byway runs simply west of the prolonged Nice River Street, as profiled above. From Crosslake, it’s about ten miles to the Mississippi River and 20 miles to Cuyuna Nation State Recreation Space.

Historic Bluff Nation – Nationwide Scenic Byway – 88 miles

Whereas lakes and rivers shine within the different Minnesota byways profiled on this article, the Historic Bluff Nation Scenic Byway is extra about hills, forests, apples, Amish and Laura Ingalls Wilder. The route traverses the far southeast nook of Minnesota, beginning on the Wisconsin state line and touring simply north of the Iowa border. Our earlier entry on the Nice River Street adopted that byway because it ran parallel to the Mississippi River via a lot of Minnesota. Historic Bluff Nation takes off from the Nice River Street at La Crescent, a small city throughout the Mississippi from La Crosse, Wisconsin and 23 miles north of the Iowa line.

La Crescent is the “Apple Capital of Minnesota” and there’s even the Apple Blossom Drive Scenic Byway north of city in case you’d wish to view orchards rising within the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. There are fruit stands, a weekly farmers market and an annual apple pageant in September that showcase the totally different varieties grown within the space, together with Honeycrisp, the official state fruit which was developed by the College of Minnesota within the Nineteen Sixties.

From La Crescent, the highway journey heads south after which west. All the byway and Minnesota State Freeway 16 are largely one in the identical, so this scenic route is straightforward to navigate. The byway follows the Root River via an expressive panorama of valleys, limestone bluffs, caves and sinkholes created over thousands and thousands of years by geological exercise and erosion.

Ten miles from La Crescent, the byway passes via Mound Prairie Scientific and Pure Space with hardwood forest and one thing the locals name “goat prairies” that are grasslands with photo-worthy summer time wildflowers. A brief hike to the highest of the bluffs presents nice views.

Minnesota places lots of effort into its state path system and seven.5 miles from Mound Prairie, the byway enters Houston, the beginning of the Root River State Path. Operating 42 miles alongside the Root River from the Houston Nature Middle to Fountain, the paved path was constructed on an deserted railroad and is designed for mountain climbing, biking, in-line skating and cross-country snowboarding.

From Houston, it’s 12 miles to Rushford with gasoline, a ironmongery store and Norsland Lefse. The espresso store, bakery and present store makes a speciality of Scandinavian treats, particularly lefse, a conventional Norwegian meals produced from potatoes, flour, salt and vegetable oil. Exterior of city is the Rushford Sand Barrens Scientific and Pure Space, noteworthy for its plant range, wildflowers and birding.

Persevering with west from Rushford Sand Barrens, the byway zigs and zags for 15 miles to Lanesboro, just a little city that’s landed on many “better of” lists over time together with Forbes’ “America’s Prettiest Cities,” Smithsonian Journal’s “20 Finest Small Cities” and ArtPlace America’s “Prime 12 Small City ArtPlaces.” Lanesboro can be known as the “Mattress & Breakfast Capital of Minnesota.” So, it’s no shock you’ll discover loads of high quality artwork, buying and consuming in its historic 19th century downtown. Lanesboro is in Fillmore County which has Minnesota’s largest Amish settlement. A few corporations on the town provide excursions.

Subsequent, observe MN 16 to close by Preston the place the paved 18-mile Concord-Preston Valley State Path begins at Preston Trailhead Park. By bike, it’s 5.5 north to the Root River State Path. Preston operates a free bike share out of Metropolis Corridor or you’ll be able to hire from retailers in Lanesboro.

From Preston, it’s 16 miles to Forestville/Thriller Cave State Park with tenting, fishing and horseback driving. Nevertheless, the primary attracts provide two fully totally different experiences. In 1868 Forestville started to slowly die after the Southern Minnesota Railroad bypassed the city inflicting retailers and farm households to regularly depart. At this time, Historic Forestville is what stays with a late-1800s retailer, farm, homestead with authentic artifacts and guests heart. A few miles away and beneath floor is Thriller Cave, the longest collapse Minnesota. Stalactites, stalagmites and underground swimming pools are discovered inside its 13 miles of underground passages. Park naturalists lead excursions all summer time and on spring and fall weekends.

Again on the byway, observe MN 16 to Spring Valley. Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved writer of the Little Home books, lived right here together with her household within the Nineties after a collection of great private setbacks, together with recovering from diphtheria. Laura and husband Almanzo attended Spring Valley Methodist Church which is now a museum exhibiting Wilder memorabilia and different native relics.

As MN 16 strikes westward, the bluffs, forests and valleys give approach to farmland. About 5 miles from Spring Valley, search for 4 Daughters Winery & Vineyard, identified for first-rate wine and cider. The byway ends 11 miles farther at Dexter the place the freeway meets I-90.

Minnesota River Valley – Nationwide Scenic Byway – 300 miles

Simply east of the Minneapolis–Saint Paul Worldwide Airport, the Minnesota River flows into the Mississippi at Historic Fort Snelling, as profiled in our earlier Grand Rounds Scenic Byway story. However in case you observe the Minnesota River west, you allow the suburbs for rolling farmland, lush valleys, forests and prairies. It’s a drive plentiful in historic websites and museums, too. The highway journey follows the river some 300 miles to South Dakota, and it may be complicated as a result of the route contains totally different highways and river crossings. So, search for indicators with an eagle marking instructions. The byway additionally has a helpful web site with maps and knowledge.

The Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway formally begins 45 miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis in Belle Plaine. Six miles west of city, try Kerfoot Cover Tour, a extremely rated zipline and excessive ropes course for ages seven and older. From right here, proceed seven miles south to Henderson after which cross over the Minnesota River to the 446-acre Ney Nature Middle. The forest, prairie and pond habitats present mountain climbing, birding and wildlife viewing. Distinctive occasions embody a monarch butterfly tagging program and maple syrup excursions. Every spring, the character heart faucets greater than 100 timber with bottles obtainable for buy.

The Ney Nature Middle additionally manages and provides excursions of the W.W. Mayo Home, simply down the byway in La Sueur. This small Nineteenth-century Gothic-style house was hand-built by Dr. William W. Mayo. It held his first medical follow which advanced into the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.

Earlier than Europeans arrived, the Dakota lived on this area for hundreds of years. From La Sueur, it’s ten miles to the Treaty Web site Historical past Middle and Traverse des Sioux the place an 1851 treaty was signed between the Dakota and U.S. authorities. The Treaty of Mendota was signed that 12 months, too, and collectively the agreements opened thousands and thousands of acres of land to settler-colonists. The treaties had tragic penalties for the Dakota. Because the Minnesota Historic Society describes it, “By 1862, stripped of their land and left with out the meals and cash promised them, the Dakota have been ravenous.” Shows on the historical past heart give particulars on the treaties and historical past of the Dakota in addition to the explorers, merchants and settlers who led Minnesota’s territorial enlargement. Exterior you’ll be able to stroll the adjoining Traverse des Sioux, a busy assembly place and buying and selling put up on the Minnesota River for 1000’s of years. 

The Treaty Web site Historical past Middle lies on the northside of St. Peter, house to Gustavus Adolphus Faculty. The campus has an attractive Arboretum with gardens and miles of trails via prairies, pine forests and maple groves.

From St. Peter, it’s 13 miles south to Mankato, the biggest metropolis alongside the byway the place artwork, espresso, meals vans and eating places are a precedence. There’s so much to see within the downtown space:

  • CityArt Strolling Sculpture Tour options outside sculptures, murals and monuments displayed year-round.
  • Historic Blue Earth County Courthouse was in-built 1894 in maybe the best-named county in America: Blue Earth!
  • Blue Earth County Historical past Middle and Museum has reveals on native heritage together with a pioneer cabin and barn, diorama of Eighties Mankato and treasures from native writer Maud Hart Lovelace.
  • Betsy-Tacy Homes Literary Landmarks are a museum, interpretive heart and present store positioned in two restored houses. They’re devoted to Mankato native Maud Hart Lovelace who wrote the kids’s collection of Betsy-Tacy books. The museum, Betsy’s Home, is refurbished to look because it did when Lovelace lived there from 1892 to 1906.
  • Historic R.D. Hubbard Home dates to 1871 and is taken into account one of many best examples of French Second Empire structure in Minnesota. The 16-room mansion and furnishings are of their authentic type, and the grounds embody Victorian gardens and a carriage home with horse-drawn automobiles and vintage vehicles.
  • Minnemishinona Falls drop 42 ft over a rock ledge. The waterfall is positioned 5 miles west of Mankato on Judson Backside Street.

The byway now begins its westward trek, beginning 5 miles west of Mankato at Minneopa State Park. It’s on the southside of the Minnesota River, instantly throughout from Minnemishinona Falls. The title Minneopa, “water falling twice,” comes from the Dakota language and refers back to the park’s double waterfall. Observe Bison Drive Street via 325 acres of vary to see the resident herd of about 40 bison. There’s additionally the 1864 Seppmann Windmill that might grind 150 bushels of wheat into flour on a day with good wind. Nevertheless, it’s been lacking arms since an 1890 twister. Tenting, fishing and birding are additionally a part of this park’s expertise.

Minneopa’s windmill was constructed by Louis Seppmann, a German native. From the state park, it’s 22 miles to the following charming group, New Ulm, based by German immigrants within the 1850s. Thought of probably the most German city in Minnesota, there’s German meals, German retailers and a German brewery. In actual fact, August Schell is the oldest brewery in Minnesota and the second oldest family-owned brewery within the U.S. All through the day in Schonlau Park, the 45-foot-tall Glockenspiel’s bells chime whereas 12 collectible figurines rotate on a circulating stage. Cease by the Brown County Historic Society to be taught extra about New Ulm’s colourful heritage. The museum’s distinct German Renaissance-style constructing is itself a stunning showpiece. 

From New Ulm, it’s 17 miles northwest to Fort Ridgely State Park. Set in scenic rolling hills, the park has tenting, trout fishing, horseback driving and mountain climbing via prairies and woodlands. Historical past is the opposite massive draw. Accomplished in 1855, the fort’s inhabitants numbered some 300 troopers and civilians. In the course of the US-Dakota Warfare of 1862, it withstood two main assaults and later turned a coaching floor for Civil Warfare recruits. Fort Ridgely’s time as an energetic army put up led to 1872. 

From Fort Ridgely, go one other 17 miles northwest to Decrease Sioux Company State Historic Web site close to Morton. Managed by the Decrease Sioux Indian Neighborhood, this marks the primary battle of the US-Dakota Warfare of 1862. The historical past heart has reveals on Dakota historical past, tradition and the occasions that led to the warfare. Trails result in the restored 1861 stone warehouse and the positioning of the Battle of Redwood Ferry.

Redwood Falls is one other 11 miles west. It’s well-appointed with gasoline, eating places and pharmacies. The prettiest spot on the town can be one of many greatest within the state. Nicknamed “Little Yellowstone of Minnesota,” 256-acre Ramsey Park is Minnesota’s largest municipal park with tenting, a zoo and the stunning Ramsey Falls. The Redwood Falls Golf Membership is adjoining.

One other pure magnificence lies 40 miles northwest of Redwood Falls. With grasslands, wetlands and woods, Higher Sioux Company State Park has a various terrain for mountain climbing, birdwatching and horseback driving. There’s tenting, together with three canvas tipis.

For one thing fully totally different, go eight miles west of the state park to the self-guided Fagen Fighters WWII Museum. Situated south of Granite Falls, it homes a big assortment of totally operational plane, together with fighters, bombers and trainers. There are additionally jeeps, a tank buster, bulldozer, bikes and paintings.

It’s simply one other seven miles south on Minnesota State Freeway 23 to Minnesota’s Equipment Museum in Hanley Falls. The tales of generations of farm life are informed via implements, instruments, tractors, gasoline engines and rural artwork in 4 massive buildings.

Heading again to the northwest once more, the byway results in Montevideo with a brewery, quick meals and Historic Chippewa Metropolis the place 24 buildings on 20 acres replicate a late 1800s village. The preservation challenge started in 1965 with a one room schoolhouse and has grown to incorporate a church, financial institution, basic retailer, blacksmith store, hat store and log cabins. 

Driving northwest out of Montevideo, observe the Minnesota River 12 miles to the beginning of Lac qui Parle Wildlife Administration Space, an enormous 33,000-acre expanse of rivers, lakes, wetlands, woodlands and prairie, important to the Dakota for 1000’s of years. Arrange camp at Lac qui Parle State Park after which canoe, kayak and hike. Fishing and searching are major actions, too. The title is a French translation for what the Dakota known as the “lake that speaks.” In spring and fall, 1000’s of noisy migratory Canada geese and different waterfowl cease at Lac qui Parle. For historical past buffs, try the close by Fort Renville Historic Web site, an 1820s fur buying and selling put up and Lac qui Parle Mission, established by Christian missionaries in 1835. The poet Robert Bly grew up in these elements, and 16 miles west in Madison, the Lac qui Parle Historical past Middle shows his examine together with a furnished 1870s log cabin, Eighties schoolhouse, 1933 gasoline station, wagons, farm equipment and instruments.Because the byway approaches South Dakota, 35 miles northwest of Lac qui Parle State Park is Huge Stone Nationwide Wildlife Refuge. Drive or bike the five-mile Auto Tour Route via wetlands, woodlands, prairie and granite outcrops. Just a few miles farther and the freeway reaches Ortonville. Then, it skirts the japanese shore of 26-mile-long Huge Stone Lake, the supply of the Minnesota River. Huge Stone Lake State Park has waterside tenting, boating and fishing for bluegill, northern pike, perch and walleye. It’s one other 25 miles to the byway’s finish in Browns Valley, on the South Dakota state line.

Study extra in regards to the thought, analysis, planning and promotion that goes into the designation of our stunning Scenic Byways.


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