See splendid scenery and immerse yourself in the culture of Minnesota any time of the year on these five Minnesota highways. The following are selected as the five best sections of highways in the Minnesota scenic byway system. For even more options, there are more than a score of Minnesota scenic byways designated by MNDOT and described at Explore Minnesota, the state’s tourism promotion office.
Edge of Wilderness Scenic Byway

(credit: Paul Stafford/Explore Minnesota)

County Road 77
Brainerd Lakes

“I love this drive. I would say County Road 77 is the biggest draw for scenic drives around here. It is a real visual treat,” says Brainerd web developer Shelly Summer. She notes that drivers don’t have to be worried about getting lost because County Road 77 winds around Gull Lake, starting and finishing on Highway 371. “I don’t know if it has a specific name or not,” Summer says, “but on 77 there is a giant boulder on the side of the road that someone paints every year and that’s always fun to see change.” In addition to the splendid fall colors, Gull Lake sports several resorts, restaurants and two beautifully landscaped major golf courses.

US Highway 61
North Shore of Lake Superior

Where else in the Upper Midwest can a person drive 154 miles with non-stop, jaw-dropping scenery? Travel from Duluth all the way to the Canadian border and see striking waterfalls, majestic lighthouses and eight Minnesota state parks. Be sure to stop for several historic towns like Knife River, Two Harbors and Grand Marais. Cap off the drive by exploring Grand Portage State Park. Crawl around the reconstructed 1700s fur trading post and a hike to the High Falls. For a complete travel experience, continue your drive by encompassing the mighty Lake Superior on a circle tour.

US Highway 61
The Great River Road
Hastings to La Crescent, Minnesota

The southern leg of Minnesota’s The Great River Road is special route to view scenery, wildlife and experience Mississippi river towns. Enjoy the attractions in Hastings, along Lake Pepin and Winona. Stop at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha at any time of the year. An adventurous soul could follow the Great River Road from its Mississippi River headwaters in Itasca State Park all 575 miles to the Iowa border and continue through all the states to Venice, Louisiana at the tip of the delta. The Great River Road follows the big river through 60 towns or communities and eleven of Minnesota’s state parks.

Related: Best Scenic Highways In Minnesota

West Lake Of The Isles Parkway
Minneapolis, Minnesota

View the elegant homes and peaceful park surrounding serene Lake of the Isles. This is but a small section of the fifty-three-mile-long Minneapolis Grand Rounds, deemed by the Federal Highway Administration as “the country’s longest continuous system of public urban parkways.” See many of the Minneapolis parkway system, ranked first among U.S. urban parks by the Trust for Public Land, by driving the entire Grand Rounds Parkway.

Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, Whitefish Lake Chain

(credit: Paul Stafford/Explore Minnesota)

Minnesota State Highway 95
St. Croix River Valley, Minnesota

This special route takes the traveler through the wild and scenic St. Croix River Valley filled with historic sites, farmers markets and art districts. Numerous state parks offer the opportunity to take part in the quiet sports such as fishing, canoeing, rock climbing, biking hiking, camping and skiing. This highway is at the heart of the 124-mile St. Croix Scenic Byway running from Point Douglas near Hastings to Sandstone, Minnesota.

Related: The Best Scenic Drives Within 60 Miles Of The Twin Cities

Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at