Minnesota River Valley Byway Bits

MN River ValleyRon B

FARMS & RED BARNS
What do the Jolly Green Giant, a millionaire’s estate, and a 100-year-old “Century Farm” have in common? They’re all here along the Byway!

Near Redwood Falls is the Gilfillan Estate. Tour the mansion, the large farm museum, and attend FarmFest—a huge agricultural festival held every August.

Minnesota’s Machinery Museum in Hanley Falls hosts the state’s largest collection of farm equipment and exhibits. Check out the old time threshing show every August!

East of Montevideo is the Olof Swensson Farm Museum built in 1901. You can see the large barn, 22-room home, and welcoming grounds.

Le Sueur is home to the Green Giant Company. The local museum and town markers tell the whole story! Ho, Ho, Ho!

CANOEING, KAYAKING & HIKING
The Minnesota River, generally slow and winding, provides excellent game fishing including walleye, northern, channel and flathead catfish. Rock rapids, white water, and fine fishing can all be found on the Yellow Medicine River and Hawk Creek, which some claim are two of the best white water rivers in the state. If that sounds too ambitious for you, try your luck on the Chippewa or the Pomme de Terre Rivers, as they are known for their wildlife-viewing and gentle waters.

Prime spots for hiking are located in the six state parks and many other parks along the Byway. A wide variety of hiking awaits you with forested, prairie, and riparian ecosystems. Bring along friends or family to make this trip a memorable one. Don’t forget the camera!

GEOLOGY, MINING & THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE
See the oldest exposed rock in the world! That’s what you’ll find near Granite Falls, but there are several other places along the Byway that will excite the geologist in you. Look closer and you will even find cacti among the outcrops.

The draining of Glacial Lake Agassiz from west central Minnesota after the last ice age shaped this river valley. There is still evidence of those forces for the sharp eye.

The old town of Ottawa is ripe with limestone buildings from a local quarry, including a church, town hall, and barn.

Near the Minnesota/South Dakota border is the Continental Divide, which separates water flowing south to the Gulf of Mexico and water flowing north to Hudson Bay. A sign at Browns Valley explains this phenomenon.

GOLF & FRISBEE GOLF
There are more than 25 golf courses along the Byway with a wide variety of playing surfaces and layouts, many with beautiful bluff and valley views! Frisbee golf courses exist in many river valley communities.

HUNTING & FISHING
Hunting in the valley begins in the fall with over 150,000 geese at the Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area. Deer, duck, pheasant, and turkey are numerous, and trapping muskrat, mink, fox, raccoon, and beaver is also viable. Bow and black powder hunting have grown recently with outfitters able to supply your needs along the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway.

Ortonville’s Big Stone Lake is famous for national fishing contests, but all along the river and its tributaries walleye, largemouth bass, crappies, northern pike, perch, blue gill, and fighting catfish abound. Don’t forget about the ice fishing in the winter!

BIRDING
The Minnesota River Valley Birding Trail is almost entirely within the Scenic Byway and there have been sightings of nearly 350 species within the river’s watershed. With many refuges, wildlife management areas, scientific and natural areas, parks and other specified lands, the habitat is healthy and widespread. Check www.birdingtrail.org for great details!

FESTIVALS
With 287 miles’ worth of towns, there’s bound to be a festival for your taste or season. Here is just a sample of some events: Sauerkraut Days (Henderson), Rock Bend Folk Festival (St. Peter), RibFest (Mankato), Bavarian Blast (New Ulm), FarmFest (Redwood Falls), Fiesta Days (Montevideo), AppleFest (Appleton).

As you can see, a wide range of interests and activities await you along the MN River Valley National Scenic Byway!

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