Iron Range Scenic Tours

Touring northeastern Minnesota, either by car, motorcycle or even bicycle is spectacular any time of the year! There’s more to the Iron Range than our (admittedly amazing) foliage! Northern MN is home to some pretty unique attractions. Whether you want an educational, breathtaking, or exciting pit stop – there is something for everyone!

fall scene along Mesabi bike trail

4 Top Scenic Tours

Explore these top four tours! Each offers a unique experience, and all branch out in manageable day, or half-day loops from the Mesabi Iron Range. The communities offer all manner of lodging, from cozy B&Bs to upscale guest houses and more. Plus a variety of dining and snacking experiences to keep you fueled for adventure.

The Ride the Range guide offers detailed maps and highlights of these drives, and other Iron Range scenic tours as well!

Northern Lights Tour: Head out on this 155 mile trip by going east from Eveleth to Hoyt Lakes. There you’ll hop on the Superior National Forest Scenic Byway for a bit before heading north to Ely and back to the Iron Range. Bird Lake Recreation Area in Hoyt Lakes is a great place to hike, while the Soudan Underground Mine in Tower offers a truly unique tour deep under the earth’s surface.

Laurentian Divide Tour: Experience the Iron Range communities of Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik, and Aurora, then head north to Tower and back again in a 70-mile loop. Visit the US Hockey Hall of Fame Museum in Eveleth (open Friday-Sunday). Hike the trails or picnic at the Laurentian Divide and Lookout, or at Giants Ridge Golf and Ski Resort. Lodging can be found at the Quality Inn and Suites in historic downtown Virginia, Pine View Lodge near the Virginia Golf Course, or LakeShor Motor Inn on the paved Mesabi Trail.

Superior National Forest Scenic Byway Tour: Enjoy two of Minnesota’s most compelling landscapes, from the shores of Lake Superior to the rugged woods of the Iron Range. This 165-mile loop begins in Eveleth, just off of Hwy 53, and heads east, reaching the Big Lake in Silver Bay and Beaver Bay. Follow the coastline south to Two Harbors, then go north on Hwy 2 and reconnect with the Byway. Stop at Skibo Vista near Hoyt Lakes in the east. With backdrops like the Laurentian Divide, fall-color-seekers enjoy lovely autumn landscapes and scenery. For lodging, choose from Northern Comfort B&B in Embarrass, Giants Ridge Recreation Area in Biwabik, Trails Edge Lodging in Gilbert, or the Eveleth Super 8.

Mines & Pines Tour: Wind your way from Hibbing through Chisholm, Buhl, Mountain Iron, and Virginia, then go north to Cook, east to McCarthy Beach State Park, and back to Hibbing on a 102-mile loop. The pine forests of the state park area are a beautiful site, and make sure to watch for wildlife! Along this route, visit Hull Rust Mineview in Hibbing, Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm, and the Big Aspen Recreation Area north of Virginia.

Take in a little history with your nature! At the Discovery Center, ride a trolley and learn more about the mining and related cultures. See period housing and equipment, plus an overlook of the mine! For lodging, Mitchell-Tappan House B&B in Hibbing makes a great place to stay, as do Chisholm Inn & Suites, Comfort Inn and Suites in Mountain Iron, or AmericInn Lodge & Suites of Virginia. Paved routes are ideal for highway-licensed motorcycles in northeastern Minnesota. Ride through designated MN scenic byways with miles of curvy, rolling hills. Make the Mesabi Iron Range your touring headquarters and check out the great loops that branch off from our central location in the Superior National Forest. There are many great day cruises from the Range, where we’ve got motorcycle-friendly hotels (ask for a free kickstand pad!), bike nights at local restaurants, and a whole lot of scenery and history. Request a Motorcycle Ride Guide. Local motorcycle dealers and parts shops include: Five Seasons Sports (Eveleth), Hog Doctors LLC in Buhl (218-258-2200), North Star Cycle in Virginia (218-749-3767) and Han’s Motorsports in Hibbing (218-263-6751).


Fall tour add-ins

Fall is a great time to see the spectacular Iron Range foliage. The best time to enjoy fall is mid-September to early October, but check with Minnesota’s Fall Color Finder. Here are some of our favorite autumn activities to add to your tour: 

Travel on a trolley, the way miners and their families used to on the Range! If you’d rather be spooked, stick around for a Museum Flashlight Tour!

The Eli Wirtanen Farm Fall Fest is a great way to get kids outside and learn where our food comes from and how early farmers used to live.

On weekends through mid-October, make a date to ride the ski lift at Giants Ridge (or hike, if you prefer) and take in some magical views of the Superior National Forest.

Have a pasty! The annual Pasty Festival includes music, games, brews and the indomitable pasty, a hand pie filled with meat, potatoes, carrots and rutabaga. We’ll also have a vegetarian version, and a contest for best pasty.

Go industrial: Hull Rust Mine View in Hibbing offers 360-views of an active mine, nearby towns and the Superior National Forest. Visit and chat with retired miners and other volunteers.

Soak it all in: Safe but secluded hiking trails mean you can experience nature without ever getting too far afield. Try the trails at Carey Lake in Hibbing, for example, or the Laurentian Divide near Virginia. There are a number of family friendly trails in the area to show you the beauty of the region.

Save Room for a Snack: There are plenty of great places to eat on the Mesabi! Here are just a few:  The Hive in Aurora, the Burnt Onion in Biwabik, or the Whistling Bird in Gilbert; Kunnari’s Kitchen and Natural Harvest Foods Co-op in Virginia, Black Bear Bakery in Chisholm, and Boomtown Woodfire Grill and Brewery in Hibbing and Eveleth.

For the best photo ops, travel west in the morning and east in the evening. For Iron Range Fall Color Maps, lodging information, motorcycle routes, bicycle trail maps, fall color updates and Iron Range attractions information, visit www.ironrange.org. For recreational gear rentals, Giants Ridge golf, and resort hiking trail information, visitwww.giantsridge.com.