Riding the Iron Range
Grand Rapids to Tower, 84 miles
In Grand Rapids, you will find a welcoming community that is perfect for those that seek the ideal balance of community and wilderness. Located in the middle of the Minnesota north woods, Grand Marais offers motorcyclists scenic byways that provide exhilarating rides. For example, the Edge of the Wilderness National Scenic Byway is Minnesota’s first National byway, and is a fun, winding ride. Over the hills and around the corners you will find stunning views. Along the way, you will find lodging properties with a view, shops, restaurants, gas stations and area attractions. Come experience your two-wheeled adventures in Minnesota's nature.
UPM Blandin Paper Mill offers tours of their plant, telling the story of logging and paper-making technology. Nearby, the Forest History Center replicates a 1900 logging camp with costumed interpreters playing lumberjack life.
“The Range” is Minnesotan’s name for the Mesabi Range from Hibbing to Hoyt Lakes, one of three iron ore ranges in the northeast region. These ore-rich ranges were home to immigrants from more than 40 countries who worked in the mines. In the 20th century, the Mesabi Range supplied the iron ore for our army’s guns, tanks and armament for World War II. Twenty-five percent of the world’s iron ore was mined here.
Thirty-six miles north of Grand Rapids, the founders of Hibbing discovered the town was built on the ore body. After log haulers towed homes and businesses two miles away, the town grew up on the edge of the Hull-Rust Mine. Hibbing became the base of Greyhound Bus Lines. The town's most famous native son, Robert Allen Zimmerman, is known to the world as Bob Dylan. Chisholm, a short ride north on Route 73 (7 miles), is home of the Minnesota Discovery Center, which tells the story of the land, the mines, the people and the ore. Exhibits feature geology, taconite, logging, immigration, schools and saloons. Trains carry visitors around the edge of Glen Mine.
Chisholm to Virginia, 19 miles
This territory grows hockey players known for their speed and ferocity, so it's not surprising that Eveleth is home of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. On St. Louis County 138, Giants Ridge in Biwabik is a golf and ski resort with mountain bike trails in the summer. Head north to Tower on the two-lane Route 135 (20 miles), then go a few miles east on Hwy 169 to the small town of Soudan, where an elevator in the Soudan Underground Mine takes visitors almost a half-mile below ground. Nearby Lake Vermillion has 290 miles of shoreline and 365 islands. With a reputation for great fishing, surrounding resorts and Fortune Bay Casino Resort are popular vacation destinations.
Highways leading into Virginia and Hibbing are four lanes, with two-lane highways extending into other cities on the Range. Most highways have low traffic, providing smooth cruising and easy viewing.