Scenic Byways

  • River with a past

    History is everywhere along the Minnesota River: at the Harkin Store, frozen in 1870, and at the many sites that figured in the Dakota Conflict of 1862: the Upper Sioux Agency, the Lower Sioux Agency, Birch Coulee, Fort Ridgely.

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  • Outdoors in Door County

    Fish boils, cherry pie, chic shops and a nonstop stream of tourists. Yes, that’s Door County, all right. But so is this: Secluded beaches of fine white sand. Estuaries lined with herons. Hiking and bicycle trails winding through sun-dappled cedar forests.

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  • A spin around Lake Pepin

    Along the shores of Lake Pepin, villages like to play a game called “Tempt the Tourist.’’ The tourists think they’re going to go for a drive and see some scenery. But the villages give them so many places to indulge themselves, they end up mostly eating and shopping — not that anyone’s complaining.

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  • Duluth's Skyline Parkway

    It's a hot Saturday in Duluth, and it seems as if every tourist in town is on Canal Park. But a few have found their way to a quieter spot, on Amity Creek above downtown. Just off Skyline Parkway, some 10-year-olds are having a great time climbing rocks and splashing in a pool beside a waterfall, thanks to a mother who went to college in Duluth. She's brought her daughter's soccer team to play and cool off between tournament games.

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  • The near North Shore

    In one 19-mile stretch of Minnesota's North Shore, Nature presents a one-two-three punch of incomparable beauty. Just half an hour north of Duluth, Gooseberry Falls State Park presents an eye-popping spectacle of waterfalls, lumpy beds of ancient lava and twisted cedar clinging to rock outcroppings.

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  • Digging the Keweenaw

    On Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula, distance is both curse and blessing.

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  • Escape to Minnesota's North Shore

    Ten thousand years ago, the melting of Minnesota’s last glacier transformed a placid beach into a rugged coast. It’s a 150-mile stretch of wild beauty, lined by piles of jagged black basalt, cobblestone beaches and the mouths of dozens of rivers, tumbling down from the old beaches of Glacial Lake Duluth. Seven state parks follow their winding gorges, marked by rapids and waterfalls, and the Superior Hiking Trail crosses them on its way from Duluth to the Canadian border.

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  • Minnesota's scenic byways

    The corner of Third Avenue and U.S. 2 in Grand Rapids doesn’t exactly look like the edge of the wilderness. The Blandin Co. paper mill is across the highway, its smokestacks sending plumes of white smoke into the air. Trucks rumble past, en route to North Dakota or Duluth.

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  • Minnesota's scenic 61

    Thanks to a four-lane stretch of Minnesota 61, tourists can zoom up to Two Harbors from Duluth in 15 minutes flat. The question is, why would anyone want to? There's much more to see along this 19-mile stretch of old 61, a part of the North Shore that has changed little in the last few decades. It's not the fanciest part, but it may be the most genuine.

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  • Wisconsin's Rustic Roads

    In Wisconsin, people build whole trips around the roads less traveled. Their destination? Nowhere. And on one of the state's lovely Rustic Roads, nowhere usually is enough. Ontario).

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  • Waters of the dancing sky

    Exploring the Minnesota landscape on a scenic byway, you'd expect to see some singular features. But Waters of the Dancing Sky Scenic Byway turns up a whole new face. This is a burly part of the state, a scratchy-wool, buffalo-plaid kind of place that might seem Bunyanesque in nature but actually was the stomping grounds of a real-life legend, the shorter but tougher voyageur.

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