This One Tank Trip seen in the Woodall’s 2010 North American Campground Directory.
For this route, we’re taking a bit of a departure from our usual one tank trip format. Normally, we feature a journey with multiple stops in various towns. This time out, we’re showcasing the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway in Minneapolis, which is a 50-mile looping stretch of road that takes you on a fascinating trip through seven distinct regions around the Minneapolis area. You’ll find that this Minnesota camping route takes you through both urban and rural areas, with lots of things to see and do and plenty of places to pull over and enjoy the great outdoors. So, let’s get out on the road and see what’s out there waiting for us!
Every trip has to start somewhere, so let’s make Boom Island the point of origin. It’s located in the Downtown Riverfront section of the Byway, at roughly the two o’clock position on the map. You’ll find this 20-plus acres area to be filled with opportunities to relax and grab some sunshine, including a walkway around the river’s edge, boat docks, and several picnic areas to enjoy a spot of lunch. The Downtown Riverfront area rests adjacent to the Mississippi River, so you’ll get a great view of the lock and dam, as well as the surrounding area, from the Stone Arch Bridge.
Getting out on the Byway, take a clockwise course a few miles south to your next stop, which offers you a chance to enjoy the Mississippi River up close and personal. From the East and West River parkways, you’ll be able to experience magnificent views of the Mississippi River Gorge. You’ll want to pull over for a while and enjoy the natural beauty; if you’ve planned your trip for the fall, you’ll see a breathtaking palette of reds, browns, and yellows, as the leaves change into their autumn colors. Stretch your legs with a hike along the Winchell Trail, a famous path used by Native Americans since before the arrival of European settlers. Everywhere you look, you’ll see the masterful hand of nature at its finest.
Continuing south on the Byway, you’ll soon come to Minnehaha. This area is a perfect spot to kick back and enjoy some peace and quiet in the arms of Mother Nature, marvel at the roaring Minnehaha Falls, or stroll along the edge of the Minnehaha Creek. Enjoy a tour of the Longfellow House, a re-creation of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Massachusetts house (except it’s only 2/3 the size).
Moving west, you’ll reach your next one tank trip stop, the Chain of Lakes District. This area is rich with lakes and waterways, all of which are interconnected so that you can paddle a canoe or kayak from one end of the chain to the other, a distance of roughly two miles. If you prefer to remain a bit more landlocked, a walking trail provides some awesome views of the lake area. The Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden is another place you’ll want to look in on, as it features an impressive collection of work from artists of varying styles and techniques, with a range that’ll appeal to anyone regardless of artistic taste.
Continuing north, you’ll quickly find yourself at the Theodore Wirth Park, where you can enjoy the sights and smells of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, then see various species of indigenous bird life in the nearby sanctuary. Wirth Lake is a great place to put on a swimsuit and go for a dip, or maybe you’d rather just sit back with a picnic lunch at the pavilion, which was built in the 1900s.
A short hop further north brings you to the Victory Memorial District, where the route winds through row upon row of trees and markers that pay homage to the local servicemen of the World War I era. Then, as you continue on your northward route, you’ll come to the Northeast Byway District, where you’ll experience an unforgettable view of the downtown Twin Cities skyline from Deming Heights.
Finally, you’ll drive a few miles east and find yourself right back where you started, at Boom Island. This Minnesota camping trip might be relatively short, mileage-wise, but it’s got more than enough to keep you busy, and was obviously designed with relaxation in mind.
See a list of Woodall’s Recommended Minnesota RV Campgrounds.
For a complete list of one tank trip camping routes, go to Woodalls.com.