Minnesota’s Scenic Byways Show Off the State’s Rare Beauty


It’s not hard to find, enjoy, and lose yourself completely in, the lush Minnesota landscape. We’re pretty humble here, but Mother Nature is considerable less so: Minnesota’s 21 Scenic Byways are defined by spectacular beauty sprawling over nearly 2,900 miles of roads across the state.

As MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle had this to says about the Byways, “These byways give travelers a chance to discover Minnesota’s scenic beauty, nature, history and culture by a variety of travel modes.  Each byway offers something special—an opportunity to experience small town-main street charm, historic sites, state parks and trails, local arts and more. The program is looking ahead to determine how best to sustain the qualities that make these routes worthy of the experience – by all modes of travel.”

Courtesy of MNDOT

There are four agencies that oversee Minnesota’s Scenic Byway Program, as established in 1992. The four agencies that oversee the program are as follows: MNDOT, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), and Explore Minnesota Tourism. In order to create distinctive travel destinations throughout the state, these four agencies have also had help of the Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byway Program, and the National Scenic Byways Foundation.

Zelle commented on the program as a whole, saying, “The Scenic Byway designation is recognized for its potential to positively affect the cities and towns located along the routes. Many communities benefit due to a Scenic Byway route, including increased economic benefits, improved traveler and community services, and broadened appreciation of Minnesota’s historic and natural resources.”

Apple Blossom Scenic Byway courtesy of Explore MN

Other important attributes of a Scenic Byway include support for managing and maintaining these historical and natural resources, improved management of resources to accommodate visitors, and vigilant stewardship of the byway corridors.

Visit MnDOT’s Scenic Byways website, mndot.gov/scenicbyways, for information about locations and what they have to offer, and what time of year is best to visit: We get four distinctive seasons here in Minnesota. This just might be the best way to experience them all.

Read next: Go on these historic adventures to celebrate Minnesota’s 160th birthday

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