Minnesota has a lot of natural beauty. So much, in fact, that it can be hard to see everything. If you have limited time, how do you choose between a waterfall and a prairie, or a state forest and a remote lake? Simply put, you don’t. The best way to see Minnesota’s natural wonders is by taking some time to do it right. That’s why we created this natural wonders road trip route to help you do just that.
This road trip isn't a short one. It'll take you from the southwestern corner of Minnesota to the state's northeastern tip. At just under 700 miles, you'll definitely need a few days to do each stop justice. See the route
1. Blue Mounds State Park
The road trip starts in the southwestern corner of Minnesota, in a little town called Luverne. Blue Mounds State Park is home to some of Minnesota's most beautiful natural wonders. Quartzite cliffs rise over the flat prairie. Bison freely roam the plains. Prickly pear cactus bloom in the spring and summer. This state park is unlike anywhere else in Minnesota, making it a definite stop on any natural wonders road trip.
2. Minnehaha Falls
Since you're traveling north anyway, you might as well stop at the Twin Cities' most famous natural wonder. Minnehaha Falls is a 53-foot waterfall right in the middle of our state's most populous city. Visitors can view the falls from above or below, making it a great place to take photos. Plus, what other major city has a waterfall within city limits?
3. Interstate Park
One of Minnesota's greatest natural wonders lies along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border at Interstate Park. Straddling the St. Croix River, this park allows visitors to see the famous St. Croix River dalles up close. Explore the rocky cliffs along the river or the deep potholes that draw geologists from around the world. One of the best times to visit is in the fall, when the trees along the riverbanks are vivid red and yellow.
4. Jay Cooke State Park
Located just south of Duluth, Jay Cooke is one of Minnesota's most popular state parks - and for good reason. The park is known for being along the rocky banks of the St. Louis River, but it is also a great place to view wildlife, with almost 50 different mammal species making its home there. But perhaps its most famous feature is the swinging bridge that has been crossed by thousands of people over the river since it was built in the 1930s. This gorgeous park is definitely worth the trip.
5. Gooseberry Falls State Park
Is a trip north complete without seeing Gooseberry Falls? A Minnesota natural wonders road trip certainly isn't, and that's why it's included on this list. The gorgeous Gooseberry Falls are the main attraction of the park, but it also boasts campsites and hiking trails. Why not explore everything this beautiful park has to offer?
6. Tettegouche State Park
Tettegouche is one of the North Shore's most scenic destinations. Four waterfalls are found within the park, including Baptism Falls, the largest waterfall located entirely within Minnesota. Other famous destinations are the rock formations along the Lake Superior shore. Shovel Point and Palisade Head are some of Minnesota's most photographed natural wonders.
7. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
The Boundary Waters offers up some of the most pristine, unspoiled wilderness in the United States. That alone makes it worth a trip - or ten. There are over a million acres of wilderness to explore. Unplug for a few days for some canoeing and backcountry camping.
8. Eagle Mountain
Minnesota's beauty comes mostly from its water, but no natural wonders road trip would be complete without a hike up Eagle Mountain. The modest hike is about 7 miles total and will bring you to the highest point in the state, 3,201 feet above sea level. That may not be much compared to the Rockies, but it will offer gorgeous views from the top of Minnesota.
9. Judge C.R. Magney State Park
Judge C.R. Magney State Park is best known for the mysterious Devil's Kettle Falls. Half of the Brule River plunges into a deep pothole. But where does it go after that? Nobody seems to know. It's a mystery worthy of a road trip.
10. Grand Portage State Park
At the very northeastern tip of Minnesota, along the Canadian border, Grand Portage State Park is home to the High Falls of the Pigeon River, Minnesota's tallest waterfall. This remote park is also home to hundreds of species of animals. If you're lucky, you might see one.
This road trip covers some of Minnesota’s most beautiful natural wonders, but there are dozens of others worth seeing. Which ones have you been to? Which ones would you add?