The Great River Road National Scenic Byway follows the course of the Mississippi River through ten states. 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 and six unique destination areas, providing public access to and promoting exploration of America's Great River. The Mississippi begins in Itasca State Park as a small wilderness stream; visitors can walk across its headwaters. As the river arcs across northern Minnesota, it passes through several large reservoirs, Chippewa National Forest, and the cities of Bemidji and Grand Rapids. Through the center of the state, the landscape is a mix of woods and farmland, and the river flows through Brainerd, Little Falls and St. Cloud, with beautiful public gardens along the riverbanks there. The Mississippi winds through the heart of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, past both downtowns. The river is lined by walking and biking trails, and there are major museums and a theater complex along the banks as well. In the south, the Mississippi widens as it flows through a valley below tall, wooded bluffs. There are charming river towns along the way, including Red Wing, Lake City, Wabasha and Winona. From north to south, there are historic sites, scenic parks and interesting towns to experience. For a river experience by bicycle, follow the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) signs. Current route maps are available at www.dot.state.mn.us/bike/mrt.
View Along This Route
- Directions can be found at www.MnMississippiRiver.com.
- Eco-Friendly Landscape/Facility Design
- Transportation-Related Policies or Programs
- Accessible to Disabled
- Can Accommodate Groups of 45 or more
- 565 miles
- A series of roads following the Mississippi River from Itasca State Park in northwest Minnesota, down through the Twin Cities, and along the southeast border of the state
- Mississippi River, as it grows from a small wilderness stream to a wide expanse lined by tall, wooded bluffs.