Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Minnesota Scenic Byways

people planting a tree

Great River Road National Scenic Byway

Program

The Great River Road program is managed to fulfill MnDOT's Environmental Stewardship mission to provide environmental resources for pre-construction, construction and maintenance of state highways, roadsides, mass transit systems and more in order to:

  • Protect and preserve the quality of our environment
  • Support healthy communities
  • Conserve natural resources
  • Encourage economic growth through multimodal transportation

The Great River Road Scenic Byway is defined in statute, and is well positioned to help implement MnDOT's 50-year vision to connect people, natural resources and businesses to each other and to the world beyond.

Corridor management plan

MnDOT is working with the Mississippi River Parkway Commission of Minnesota to develop a new corridor management plan. The management plan will describe the actions, responsibilities, procedures, controls, operational practices and suggest strategies to help MnDOT, the MN-MRPC and its partners provide and promote a superior byway travel experience and improve quality of life locally, while maintaining the archaeological, cultural,historic, natural, recreational, and scenic intrinsic resources that support this National Scenic Byway. The plan will celebrate the establishment of the Mississippi River Trail bicycle route, another cooperative effort lead by MnDOT and the MN-MRPC, as well as transit, air, rail and water modal travel options for river exploration. The planning process will inform and generate the partner synergy required for plan implementation. Can't wait for the new plan to be completed? See the previous corridor management plan.

Background

The concept of a parkway along the Mississippi River was conceived in 1938 by the governors of the 10 river states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana). The byway winds along the river through quaint river towns, dense woods, majestic bluffs, big cities and rich farmland through the vast delta to the Gulf of Mexico. It's a journey that offers a taste of culture and history, natural beauty, musical tradition, cuisine and hospitality.

In Minnesota, the Great River Road Scenic Byway runs for 575 miles along the Mississippi River, through 11 state parks, state historic sites, Chippewa National Forest, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, 21 counties and 60 communities.