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. Doerer 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 above ground 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 its 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.