The Longest Road In Minnesota Is Also The Most Stunning Drive Crossing Six Forests
Are you looking for one of the coolest drives in the Midwest? Minnesota's longest state route goes from one side to the other, stretching 346 miles. Odds are you've been on a portion of it if you've been to the region. It's so long that you can visit five Minnesota State Forests and one entire National Forest.
Minnesota State Highway 1 stretches from Lake Superior all the way to North Dakota. The actual length is 345.954 miles. It begins in a little community called Illgen. It's just north of Beaver, Bay Minnesota, and next to Tettegouche State Park.
The eastern portion of the highway from Lake Superior to Ely is absolutely stunning. The windy road goes through the Superior National Forest and it is a favorite among motorcyclists because of the twists and turns.
There are plenty of places of interest along the way, like the highest point in Minnesota at Eagle Mountain. It's a nice hike, but the view isn't quite what you would expect.
The road passes through Finland, Minnesota in Lake County where the Finland State Forest is located.
On the drive, you'll cross a lot of water in the Land Of 10,000 lakes. The Bear Island State Park is also along Minnesota State Highway 1.
You'll pass right through Ely, the gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. This stretch of Highway 1 runs concurrently with Highway 169 right through historic downtown Ely.
From there you pass the famous Lake Vermilion and skirt the southern edge of the Kabetegoma State Forest. Don't skip the Lake Vermilion State Forest. It's a beautiful area and it also has the Soudan Underground Mine.
West of Tower, you take a slight turn to the Northwest to continue along for the rest of the drive across the state. The beauty does not end at Ely.
Eventually, you'll hit Togo, and continue West finding little local joints along the way. This runs through the Northern section of George Washington State Park.
You'll pass by Lower Red Lake, which as you drive by it looks like an ocean it's so huge!
You really get to see a little of everything Minnesota has to offer. Once you get near Thief River Falls its wide open plains all the way to the Dakotas.
Other interesting facts:
Minnesota State Highway 1 is 90 years old this year. It only been paved the entire way since the 1960s. Many stretches were gravel for the first 40 years of its existence. There actually was a short stretch between US 53 and 169 where it was unpaved as late as 1996!