Minnesota Map

Historic Bluff Country Scenic Byway

Basics
Length:
88 miles (141 km)
Time:
Three hours to drive the Byway
Fees:
None - only at attractions.

Description

Time passes slowly along the Historic Bluff Country Scenic Byway, with change coming nearly imperceptibly to both the natural landscape and the lifestyle of its residents. Impressive limestone bluffs rise over enduring hardwood forests, while the water of the region etches out magnificent caverns beneath the earth. Visitors can lose themselves in timeless sights and activities amidst natural wonders and rural communities.

Most of the Historic Bluff Country Scenic Byway passes through the Richard J. Dryer Memorial Hardwood Forest, a two million acre natural area full of walnut, oak, elm, birch, black cherry and pine trees. Unlike certain other areas, the Forest is designed for human use, whether camping, hiking, backpacking, or wildlife viewing. Two trails that cross the forest encourage these activities: the Root River State Trail and the Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail. In addition to pavement for the ease of wheeled and foot traffic, sections of the trails are groomed for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Along with the aboveground activities, several subterranean tours await along the Byway. Nearby Niagara Cave in Harmony features several fascinating formations, such as the Wishing Well, a vaulted underground wedding chapel, and a 60-ft. underground waterfall. Closer to the Byway, Mystery Cave offers tours through their natural formations, and the caves offer a cool respite from a hot day with a constant temperature of 48 degrees. Visitors can also reserve more advanced spelunking tours through more remote and challenging sections of the cave.

Above Mystery Caves is the Forestville Historic Village. Operated by the Minnesota Historic Society, Forestville portrays several restored period structures from the nineteenth century. Forestville was prosperous until the railroad passed it up, relegating Forestville to an older way of life. Eventually, the son of one of the founders owned the entire village. Another way to experience an older way of life is to visit local Old Order Amish communities that dot the Byway, featuring acres of beautiful farmland, and handicrafts such as furniture, toys and quilts.

With distinct culture, fascinating geology, and hardwood beauty, the Historic Bluff Country Scenic Byway lets visitors experience timeless Minnesota.

Tourism Resources

Points of Interest

Points of Interest Along The Way

1877 Peterson Station Museum (MN)

This museum was established in 1974 after the Community of Peterson moved the former CMStP Railroad Station to its present site. It contains local memorabilia, artifacts, and photographs of local interest. The original depot was authorized in 1876 and built in 1877, and was part of the former Southern Minnesota Railroad first established on paper in 1855. The museum also has a genealogy center.

Directions

49 miles from I-90

Allis Barn (MN)

Tucked away in a scenic Southeastern Minnesota valley, you'll find a National historic site, the Allis Barn.

Directions

35 miles from I-90 and 5 miles off the byway

Amish Tours (MN)

Several tour operators in Harmony and Lanesboro provide guided tours of Old Order Amish farms and countryside.

Directions

40 miles from I-90

Beaver Creek Valley State Park (MN)

Among the classic recreation activities available at Beaver Creek Valley State Park, visitors may want to take some time to do some wildlife watching. Deer, raccoon, and even beaver make their home in this state park. Birdwatchers will appreciate a glimpse of an Acadian flycatcher.

The state park was once the site of an Indian village. Now it accommodates travelers who are interested in fishing, camping, picnicking, or hiking. Beaver Creek Valley State Park is known for its trout streams that are home to brown and native brook trout. The location of the park, nestled in the midst of the blufflands, is also attractive to migratory songbirds, such as the Acadian flycatcher, Cerulean warbler, and Louisiana waterthrush. Visitors can take advantage of the park's camping opportunities and hiking trails that follow along streams and through hardwood forest.

Directions

80 miles from I-90 and 10 miles south of the byway.

Como Falls (MN)

Como Falls is located within a municipal park in Hokah, at theeast end of Falls Street. It is a short but picturesque waterfallon Thompson Creek, just before the creek meets the Root River. Thepark includes a newly established sign with a history of ComoFalls, Thompson Creek, and the immediate area where EdwardThompson, founder of Hokah, established a dam and saw mill. ComoFalls Park includes some short trails at the falls and alongThompson Creek.

DNR Fish Hatchery (MN)

The DNR Fish Hatchery near Lanesboro focuses on hatching and protecting trout for the region's trout streams, as well as improving access to these streams. The site includes a walking trail where visitors can learn about ideal conditions for trout.

Directions

39 miles from I-90

Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center (MN)

The mission of Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center is tofoster awareness, enhance respect, and promote personalresponsibility for the natural world. Designed for families, thecenter provides opportunities to learn about wildlife, ecology,outdoor skills, and outdoor recreation.

Directions

45 miles from I-90 and 5 miles from the byway.

Exchange State Bank (MN)

Architecturally significant and attractive bank building indowntown Grand Meadow.

Directions

Six miles from I-90 in Grand Meadow

Fillmore County History Center (MN)

This museum features displays on the history of Fillmore County,agricultural displays, a Pietenpol Airplane and hangar, and agenealogy library.

Directions

35 miles from I-90

Forestville/ Mystery Cave State Park (MN)

The Forestville/ Mystery Cave State Park features a natural cavethat is open for tours along with the historic town of Forestvillewithin its borders.

Mystery Cave is the prominent feature of the park, featuring over 12 miles of subterranean corridors. Explore the effects of karst geology, where soluble rock such as limestone dissolves, leaving large stalactites, rising stalagmites, and several natural underground pools. The cave is open for tours daily during the summerand on weekends in spring and fall. Tours are either one or twohours. Both tours have informed guides to point out thecave's unusual formations.

After returning to the surface, explore the Forestville State Historic Site. In the 19th century, Forestville thrived as a busy river trade town. Unfortunately, when railroad lines replaced river trade, Forestville ended up miles from any station. Forestville's businesses dwindled, but the historic buildings remain. Costumed guides transport you back to Forestville's prosperous era, re-enacting daily activities from the 19th Century.

The Forestville/ Mystery Cave State Park also offers hiking, camping, trail riding, and picnicking.

Details

Length:
88 miles (141 km)
Time:
Three hours to drive the Byway
Main Roads:
MN-16 E
Fees:
None - only at attractions.

Map + Directions

Customizable Directions


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