Mississippi river
explore minnesota's great river road - National Scenic Byway of the Mississippi River
America's Byways

Minnesota’s Great River Road is a network of roadways offering a bounty of river experiences in a parkway setting. It spans 565 miles, 43 communities, 20 counties, three tribes, six unique destination areas, and eight scenic reaches that provide access to and tell the stories about America’s Great Mississippi River.

Look for this green and white Pilot’s Wheel sign to guide your way along
Minnesota’s 565-mile Great River Road National Scenic Byway.

Headwaters Mississippi

Headwaters

Mississippi
Tiptoe across the mighty river’s humble source in Itasca State Park. Hear the call of the loon and watch Bald eagles soar above the majestic virgin pines along Wilderness Drive. Visit Bemidji—first city on the Mississippi—and make sure to capture a photo memory with legendary lumberjack, Paul Bunyan and his faithful pal, Babe.
Cass Lake Lillies

Northwoods

Mississippi
Experience nature in the whisper of the pines and the crisp northwoods air. Follow the river through Bemidji, Cass, Winnibigoshish and Pokegama — mighty lakes, with mighty good fishing. Discover the stories of the Ojibwe and the history of the lumberjacks. Visit Grand Rapids to tour the paper mill, Forest History Center and Judy Garland’s birthplace. Get out and enjoy.
Grand Rapids

crossings

Mississippi
By river. By rail. By road. People of this region have traveled the Mississippi for centuries. Today it plays host to thousands of vacationers each year who bike, golf, fish, bird or simply seek respite. Come to play and to explore the historical routes inspired by the river. Grand Rapids, Aitkin, the towns of the Cuyuna Range, Brainerd and Little Falls will be your hosts.
A great place to picnic Munsinger Garden

Scenic

Mississippi
Wild and Scenic River is the designation given to this pristine section of Minnesota’s Mississippi. The river here is ideal for canoeing, picnicking, fishing and scenic biking. Remarkable main street architecture, historic museums, the boyhood home of aviator Charles Lindbergh, lovely parks, magnificent gardens and scenic rural farm-scapes provide a backdrop for a relaxing river experience.
Dave bridge

metro

Mississippi
Abundant parkland and trails invite you to the riverfront renaissance taking place in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Theater, major sports venues, museums, concerts, fine dining, and shopping headline entertainment, while thoughtfully preserved riverfront parks, historic sites, the falls of St. Anthony, and the first of the Upper Mississippi’s working lock and dams inspire the essence of nature on the fringe of commerce.
Lake Pepin from Frontennac State Park

Bluffs

Mississippi
Bring binoculars to bluff country because the river vistas are remarkable and the wildlife viewing – especially birding – some of the best in the country. Follow the river through more than a dozen charming river towns complete with historic main streets, riverboats, unique shopping, museums and warm hospitality. The Lock and Dam system continues and Native American history abounds.
MN Map

Plan Your Trip Interactive Map

Highway 26 OverlookBrownsville OverlookFord Dam Scenic OverlookTwo Rivers OverlookWabasha Overlook Pembroke
Highway 26 OverlookBrownsville OverlookFord Dam Scenic OverlookTwo Rivers OverlookWabasha Overlook Pembroke

Before and during your journey, use the Plan Your Trip interactive map to understand the Great River Road and Mississippi River (bicycle) Trail alignments, discover over 700 points of interest, find over 200 local food providers, and see where Tribal lands are along the river. Beyond the car, Great River Road travel options include Amtrak train stations, excursion boat landings and airports. Beyond the river, alignments of Minnesota’s 20 other state and National scenic byways offer their own sense of place. Welcome!

Canoe Art Bridge

Latest News

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Drive the Great River Road Month Scenic Highlight – Driftless Area: Below Hastings, the Mississippi enters the Driftless Area, with its distinctive limestone bluffs. During the last ice age, glaciers bypassed the Driftless Area, creating a unique and nationally significant landscape. River towns are nestled between the river and the majestic bluffs. Online Bluffs Region Travel Guide – mndot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=9b7af7816d3e484abefaa08c077663d6 See MoreSee Less

Drive the Great River Road Month Scenic Highlight – Driftless Area: Below Hastings, the Mississippi enters the Driftless Area, with its distinctive limestone bluffs. During the last ice age, glaciers bypassed the Driftless Area, creating a unique and nationally significant landscape. River towns are nestled between the river and the majestic bluffs. Online Bluffs Region Travel Guide - http://mndot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=9b7af7816d3e484abefaa08c077663d6

Drive the Great River Road Month Scenic Highlight – The Big River: The Big River – the river of Mark Twain – begins at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. It is characterized by a broad valley and a wide floodplain, with many side channels, backwater lakes and wooded islands. (Photo courtesy of National Park Service) Find things to see and do using the Plan Your Trip interactive mapping at www.mnmississippiriver.com See MoreSee Less

Drive the Great River Road Month Scenic Highlight – The Big River: The Big River – the river of Mark Twain - begins at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. It is characterized by a broad valley and a wide floodplain, with many side channels, backwater lakes and wooded islands. (Photo courtesy of National Park Service) Find things to see and do using the Plan Your Trip interactive mapping at www.mnmississippiriver.com
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