Driving The Great River Road in Autumn

Great River Road - Minnesota

The Great River Road National Scenic Byway is voted one of the best drives in America, year after year. Find out why this drive is so beautiful.

On a perfect autumn day in Minnesota. I set off for the weekend down The Great River Road Scenic Highway 61 to Great River Bluffs State Park.

My trip began in Red Wing and took my on a meandering path along the Mississippi River through the cities of Lake City, where the river opens up forming Lake Pepin. Driving south from the lake, I continued along the road where the scenery was a good mixture of open flood plains, large river bluffs, and tight roads along the cliff side as I drove through Wabasha and Winona towards the park just a few miles further down the road. My initial plans were to go hiking and camping in the park. I arrived early so I had more than enough time to traverse a couple trails at the park.  The two trails I took were rather simple paths through a forest of trees along a ridge with cliffs on both sides.

Trail of trees Great River Bluffs

The trails both led to overlooks of the Mississippi River Valley that offered an expansive view of the entire valley highlighted by the blazing sun that day.

Overlook of Mississippi

As I previously mentioned, the day was perfect for Minnesota; upper 70's in temperature, a slight breeze, and lots of sunshine. I was really hoping to see some great fall colors but I was just a week or two ahead of the prime time for that sort of thing. In the Upper Midwest, the fall leaves change colors quickly and don't last very long so getting a camping spot at the right time is basically getting lucky on picking the right weekend.

Mississippi River Bluffs

The camping spot, hot weather (yeah 70 degrees is hot in the Fall for Minnesota) and not enough wood for a fire, I decided to head back home without staying the night. Overall, I would consider this park an enhanced scenic overlook along the highway and not one I would stay more than a night.

The video is a hyperlapse of my drive along MN Hwy 61 for about 80 miles from Redwing, MN to the entrance of Great River Bluffs State Park, MN. I took the shots from my GoPro Hero3+ at a 5 second intervals.

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