Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway


  • DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2002)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesScenic
  • LocationMN
  • Length88 miles
Byway Visitor Information
Visit Bluff Country
Statewide Byway Partners
Downloadable Minnesota Byways Map
Explore Minnesota Tourism
Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway
Public domain. Photo


Get a true taste of what the great state of Minnesota has to offer by taking a trip along the Historic Bluff Country Scenic Byway. Visitors that travel through this route have the opportunity to experience the local towns and communities while also taking in the scenic beauty of the area. With plenty of options for recreation and relaxation, this Byway would make a perfect family trip that will create wonderful memories.

Local Byway Partners

Story of the Byway

The Historic Bluff Country Scenic Byway is one of the most quaint and tranquil drives in the entire state of Minnesota. This route was designated as a National Scenic Byway in 2002 for its wonderful scenic qualities, while also having plenty of historical significance and recreational opportunities. With scenic views throughout the entirety of this 88-mile-long Byway, there is no shortage of enjoyment that can be had while driving along this route. This Byway passes through multiple small local towns, antique shops, Amish tours, historic sites, and much more that visitors can experience. Parks, forests and the Root and Mississippi Rivers provide opportunities for many recreation options, including canoeing, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, cycling, wildlife watching, fishing, and photography. There is fun and excitement that can happen year-round along this Byway, from water activities in the Mississippi River in the summer, to cross-country skiing in the winter.

The natural and scenic qualities found along this Byway are truly breathtaking, and anyone would be lucky to witness some of these gorgeous views. Running east to west through the southeast corner of Minnesota, this Byway passes through some great local towns along the way like Historic Lanesboro and Spring Valley. About halfway through, the Byway runs parallel to the Root River up until it empties into the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River is one of the most beautiful natural landmarks in the entire country, and visitors of this Byway have the opportunity to experience it first-hand. There are kayak, canoe, tubing, and fishing pole rentals lining the Mississippi, so do not feel the need to bring your own! Also, along the Byway, visitors can stop by Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park which has both scenic views and cultural significance. Here you can take a tour of Mystery Cave, which during the summer is the perfect way to beat the heat and get out of the sun while also experiencing a beautiful cave system. The great thing about this Byway is how close the towns are to the recreational activities, so if you decide to take a bike ride or hike, you can then stop by one of the local towns for a wonderful lunch that tastes amazing.

There are so many opportunities for visitors to have a wonderful time along this route, and since it is only 88 miles, it can easily be done in one or two days. If you decide to stay another day to experience everything this Byway has to offer, there are plenty of lodging opportunities from bed and breakfasts to rustic cabins that are available to be rented. If you want to experience the beautiful nature of the area even more, there are multiple campgrounds along the Byway as well. The recreation possibilities can keep anyone entertained throughout their trip along the Byway, and the views that can be seen are truly second to none. This road creates a perfect trip for the family and can be completed to its fullest potential in just a weekend. The fun can create memories that will last a lifetime along the Historic Bluff Country Scenic Byway!

Driving Directions

This 88 mile long Byway travels right along MN 19 from La Crescent west toward Interstate 90. Along the way visitors can find beautiful views, recreational opportunities, Amish tours, and much more!

Points of Interest

  • Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

    This beautiful State Park gives visitors a chance to see natural wonders both above and below ground. Walk along to see the beautiful scenery above ground, or take a trip to Mystery Cave underground to beat the heat.

  • Lanesboro Historic District

    Come visit this thriving town with rich history located along the Byway that was first settled in 1856.

  • Root River State Trail

    This 42 mile long paved trail travels some of the most beautiful land and towns in the area. Visitors can chose to walk, run, or even bike this amazing trail.

  • Cedar Valley Resort

    Stop by this beautiful secluded resort and stay the night while taking your journey along the Byway.


  • A Trip to Bluff Country

    Starting from Route 16 in Dexter at an intersection with Interstate 90, the Historic Bluff Country Byway heads east for 88 miles up until the Mississippi River. It is essentially a straight shot along Route 16, passing by some of the most beautiful landscapes and historical areas in the entire state of Minnesota.

    For your first stop, head into the city of Wykoff. Here you can travel the Wykoff Commercial Historic District, which has plenty of shops that have wonderful architecture. You can also visit the Historic Forestville Townsite, which was an early settlement in 1853. Continue on and drive through the forest for the rest of the way, stopping in the local towns of Lanesboro and Whalan that have historic districts.

    The road from here on is running right along the root river, which provides incredible scenic views that are truly breathtaking. A great place to get out and explore is the Yucatan Valley, which is located right outside the city of Houston. There are walking and hiking trails galore located in this natural area, and the scenes are really wonderful. Once you get back on, you are nearing the end of your journey along this Byway. Your ending point is when this road meets the Mississippi River, which leads to many activities as well!

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