Minnesota May 07, 2017
The 10 Best Backroads In Minnesota For A Long Scenic Drive
Warm weather is here, and you know what that means: road trip season is upon us! What better way to say goodbye to winter than to roll down the windows and speed down an open road? But you probably won’t find many open roads now that construction season has begun. That’s why we came up with this list of 10 of the best, most scenic backroads in Minnesota.
1. State Highway 96
Highway 96 stretches from just north of Stillwater to just north of White Bear Lake. It's a great drive for those in the Twin Cities who want a scenic drive but don't want to go too far. The road is relatively straight, leading through thick trees before it curves along the northern shore of White Bear Lake.
2. Highway 61
We couldn't do a list of backroads without including Highway 61. This is the essential Minnesota road trip. Many of us have done the scenic route up the North Shore, but the southern part of 61 is just as beautiful. If you really want to make a day of it, stop at some of the charming small towns along the way.
3. Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway
This is another Minnesota classic that many have driven at least once in their lifetime. And it's no wonder. The 55-mile route passes through thick northern forests to lead to lakes both large and small. Lucky travelers get to see wildlife like moose and deer.
4. Waters of the Dancing Sky Scenic Byway
This scenic route passes along the Canadian border. Its name refers to the aurora borealis, which makes frequent appearances this far north. Along the drive,
travelers will find lakes, trees, and plenty of animal life.
5. Apple Blossom Drive Scenic Byway
In southern Minnesota, this backroad takes travelers along the bluffs above the Mississippi River. From your window, you'll be able to see the sparkling river as it rushes past the river cities on its banks. The view is truly unbeatable.
6. Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway
A drive on scenic byway is a journey through Minnesota's long natural history. Designated in 1996, the road crosses passes many cities and towns from Henderson to Browns Valley.
7. Highway 210
This lesser known backroad bisects Minnesota from Duluth to the North Dakota border. The route means travelers can stop to explore Brainerd or Fergus Falls. It also passes through Otter Tail County, Minnesota's most lake-filled county. There will be plenty to do and see if you take this route.
8. Lady Slipper Scenic Byway
This northern Minnesota byway starts near the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Then, it passes through the thick woods of Chippewa National Forest. For those who want an off-the-beaten-track experience, you can't do much better than this backroad drive.
9. Edge of the Wilderness National Scenic Byway
Here's an hourlong drive that will leave you pining for more. Traveling the 47-miles of the Edge of the Wilderness National Scenic Byway means hugging tight curves and climbing steep hills. The incredible views of lake and forest make it 100% worth it.
10. Glacial Ridge Trail Scenic Byway
Our final backroad is a long one. Glacial Ridge Trail Scenic Byway is 220 miles of road across the ridges etched into the land by ancient glaciers. The route contains a couple of loops side trips, but they're all worth it for the chance to see just how diverse Minnesota's landscape truly is.
These scenic routes are just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty more backroads in Minnesota. Do you have a favorite?