Great River Road National Scenic Byway
Explore all or part of this byway as it follows the Mississippi River 575 miles across the state; the route is part of Great River Road, a national scenic byway through several states. 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. As it travels through the center of the state, the landscape is a mix of woods and farmland, and it 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 and through a wooded ravine. 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 explore along Great River Road.