Take a Trip Down the Great River Road

By Explore Minnesota

Mississippi HeadwatersGreat River Road, the national route following the iconic Mississippi River, travels nearly 3,000 miles through 10 states. So it’s the perfect time to explore some or all of the 575 miles of the Mississippi that wind through Minnesota, more than in any other state.

Here, the Great River Road starts at the headwaters of the river, arcs across the north woods and past big lakes, runs through the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and below the soaring bluffs of the southeast. The route is designated as both a National and a Minnesota scenic byway, and is signed by its distinctive green and white pilot’s wheel logo.

The Mississippi River Parkway Commission provides detailed information for traveling the byway, from Itasca State Park where the river begins to the state border with Iowa. Its website and brochure map out the route as six distinct segments, and note the many state parks, historic sites and other highlights of each.

Select a short segment to drive or plan a vacation along its entire length. Or explore part or all of the Mississippi by bicycle. The Mississippi River Trail is a bike route following roadways along the river. With many inviting river towns along the route, it’s easy to plan overnight stays as you explore the byway.