Edge of the Wilderness Byway

State: Minnesota
Length: 47 miles / 75.6 km
Time to Allow: Allow at least 3 hours to tour this Byway.

In Northeastern Minnesota, close to the Canadian border, sits the Edge of the Wilderness Byway. At just 47 miles long, this byway can take a single day, or you can make a trip of it and take a few days. The state offers the home of 12,000 lakes, and many are on this tiny trip.

Start the trip in the north in the tiny town of Effie at the Little American Falls along the Big Fork River. Find a campsite near the river, too, for a gorgeous mini vacation. Nestled in farm county, Effie is famous for their annual rodeo. Try out breakfast at the Effie Cafe for some local home-cooked food.

Big Fork is the next town on the short route, and it’s the home of “Uncle Tom.” Visit the military Veteran’s Park to honor those who served. Next stop at the Gut and Liver, where folklore comes alive at a river. Between Effie and Big Fork is the Scenic State Park. It’s large unique, and not overcrowded. If you want a serene and secluded camping spot, this is the best available.

Enjoy a straight section of the byway after leaving Big Fork. Filled with birch and young pines, the area offers gorgeous scenery in the fall. The road leads to a portion of the continental divide called the Laurentian Divide, where the Gulf of Mexico and the Hudson Bay meet at an elevation of 1524 feet.

Next on the docket is the Chippewa National Forest, with tons of camping in the area. It’s a great place to see bald eagles and check out the local ecosystem. The forest also offers over 400,000 acres of trees, lakes, and wetlands with over 230 species of animals. Finally, make sure to check out the heritage resources and learn about how the Native Americans settled in the area.

Nearby find the town of Marcell with a picturesque lodge located on Ranier Lake. The lodge is perfect for one-two to families to take a vacation, and it’s near the Wilderness Discovery Center. Learn about local nature, fishing, and more before heading to the gift shop for a souvenir.

Heading south toward Grand Rapids, stop at the Scenic Overlook at North Star Lake. Not only is it beautiful, but a quiet place for a retreat. Find activities in the area to suit everyone with so many big and small lakes, too many to name! The area is a fisherman’s haven. Visit Pughole lake for a spectacular sunrise or sunset and to see ducks and butterflies floating across the water.

End your journey on the byway in Grand Rapids, a larger town ready to offers something to everyone. The town offers several lodging options and recreation too. Try out biking, hiking, hop on an ATV, go golfing, check out a play, go fishing, paddle boating, or even motorcycling. End the day with some shopping and exciting nightlife. Rent a vacation home on Lake Pokegama and turn your trip into a summer retreat.

More Minnesota Byways

You can check out additional Byways in Minnesota by clicking on the list of byways below, or by going to the Minnesota Byways home section. To find even more of scenic byways in the United States, visit our scenic byways map.