Photo Courtesy of Minnesota Department of Transportation
Enjoy Majestic Views and River Town History along Minnesota’s Great River Road!
The Great River Road is now an All-American Road. Recognizing the scenic and historic treasures, the Federal Highway Administration elevated the Great River Road into an elite class of scenic byways. This spring, escape to exceptional views and river towns from Hastings to the Iowa border.
Here, water and wind created a unique and nationally significant scenic landscape. At Barn Bluff Regional Park in Red Wing, hike to the bluff top for panoramic views. River towns in the region maintain deep historic connections to the Mississippi. The National Register Historic Districts in these towns harken back to the days of lumber and flour milling, grain shipping, and steamboat passenger traffic. Hastings, Red Wing, Wabasha, and Winona boast historic districts with walkable streets and charming local flavor. Built in 1874 and anchoring the St. James District, the St. James Hotel in Red Wing still serves tourists and business travelers as one of the few remaining hotels of its size and character along the river in Minnesota.
Stretching 21 miles from Red Wing to Reads Landing, Lake Pepin, the birthplace of waterskiing, and largest natural lake on the Mississippi River – is often dotted with sailboats adding to the picturesque scenery. Bald eagles are common in the driftless area. See them up close at Wabasha’s National Eagle Center, one of 90 byway interpretive centers across ten river states.
Below Wabasha, the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife & Fish Refuge offers spectacular wildlife viewing during spring migration. Locks and Dams 3 through 8 are themselves on the National Register of Historic Places – and the resulting reservoirs and towboats with barges offer classic Great River Road views.
Between Winona and La Crescent, Great River Bluffs State Park features two Scientific and Natural Areas – King’s and Queen’s Bluff, and nearby blossoming apple orchards.
In Winona, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum and Winona County History Center share byway river stories, while Lake City, Minneiska, Reads Landing, La Crescent, and Brownsville also share their history with walking tours, interpretation, and events.
Photo Courtesy of Visit Winona
For more things to see and do, interactive mapping, and digital travel guides, visit www.mnmississippiriver.com.