Minnesota State Highway 61

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Trunk Highway 61

MN 61 highlighted in red
Route information
Defined by MS § 161.%section%
Maintained by MnDOT
Length148.843 mi[1] (239.540 km)
Lake Superior Circle Tour
North Shore Scenic Drive
Major junctions
South end I-35 at Duluth
Major intersections MN 1 at Illgen City
North end Highway 61 near Grand Portage
CountryUnited States
CountiesSt. Louis, Lake, Cook
Highway system
  • Minnesota Trunk Highway System
US 61 MN 62

Minnesota State Highway 61 (MN 61) is a 148.843-mile-long (239.540 km) highway in northeast Minnesota, which runs from a junction with Interstate 35 (I-35) in Duluth at 26th Avenue East, and continues northeast to its northern terminus at the Canadian border near Grand Portage, connecting to Ontario Highway 61 at the Pigeon River Bridge. The route is a scenic highway, following the North Shore of Lake Superior, and is part of the Lake Superior Circle Tour designation that runs through Minnesota, Ontario, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

This roadway was designated U.S. Highway 61 (US 61) until 1991. US 61 ran from the Canadian border to New Orleans, and is the road to which musician and Duluth native Bob Dylan referred in the album and song Highway 61 Revisited.

The North Shore Scenic Drive is an All-American Road scenic byway that follows Saint Louis County Road 61 / Lake County Road 61 / MN 61, formerly US 61, from the city of Duluth, Minnesota, to the Canadian border near Grand Portage. The route stays close to the rocky North Shore, offering spectacular vistas of the lake to the southeast as it skirts along the foothills of the Sawtooth Range to the northwest.

Route description

Highway 61 entering Grand Marais from the south

MN 61 serves as a northeast–southwest route in northeast Minnesota between Duluth, Two Harbors, Silver Bay, Grand Marais, and the Canadian border.

21 miles (34 km) of MN 61 from Duluth to Two Harbors is a four-lane expressway officially designated the Arthur Rohweder Memorial Highway. There are no markers on the highway showing this designation, but there is a plaque at a wayside.

The roadway is located close to and in many places next to Lake Superior. Sights include forests, wildlife, cliffs, state parks, and a national monument.

Highway 61 passes through the Superior National Forest and the Grand Portage State Forest in Cook County.

The following state parks are located on Highway 61:

MN 61 starts on the northern end of Duluth and continues northeasterly towards Two Harbors, the first city outside Duluth and the largest city between Duluth and Grand Portage. MN 61 continues as a four-lane expressway through Two Harbors, then becomes two lanes. After Two Harbors, there are no towns for almost 30 miles (48 km), until reaching Beaver Bay, followed by Silver Bay. Afterwards, MN 61 passes a few state parks before reaching Schroeder, followed by Tofte. After Tofte, the road to Lutsen Mountains ski resort, County Road 5, meets with MN 61. The next town is Lutsen, followed by Cascade River State Park. About 18 miles (29 km) further along is Grand Marais, the second largest city after Two Harbors, and another 34 miles (55 km) along is Grand Portage; between the two is Hovland. MN 61 bypasses Grand Portage to the west. The northern terminus for MN 61 is at the Canadian border, where it becomes Ontario Highway 61 upon entering Canada at the Pigeon River Bridge; the roadway continues to Thunder Bay.


U.S. Highway 61

LocationWyoming, MNCanadian border

Minnesota Highway 61 was designated and signed in 1991. The roadway was originally part of US 61 from 1926 to 1991.

After construction of I-35 in the 1960s, US 61 was co-signed with I-35 until 1991. During that year, US 61 was decommissioned from the Canadian border south to its present-day junction with I-35 at the city of Wyoming near Forest Lake. The section of US 61 north of Duluth was redesignated MN 61 that same year.

MN 61 is one of three state marked highways to carry the same number as an existing U.S. Highway within the state; the others are MN 65 and MN 169.

From 1991 to 1997, MN 61 continued southwest on London Road beyond I-35 to 14th Avenue East, where southbound traffic then turned northwest to end at MN 23 which followed a one-way pair of 2nd Street East (eastbound) and 3rd Street East (westbound); northbound MN 61 began following 12th Avenue East south to London Road. Both routes were turned back to end at their respective I-35 junctions in Duluth in 1997.

Early history

MN 61, between Duluth and the Canadian border, was commissioned as part of US 61 in 1926, ready for use by 1929, and paved by 1940.

The section of MN 61 from Hovland to the Pigeon River formerly ran inland, bypassing the community of Grand Portage. The new highway alignment and border crossing were constructed in the early 1960s.

The MN 61 expressway between Duluth and Two Harbors was constructed inland in the 1960s. The state then turned over maintenance of the original US 61 between Duluth and Two Harbors to Saint Louis and Lake counties. The two counties then redesignated this section as CR 61 or Scenic 61.

Major intersections

St. LouisDuluth1.4712.367
I-35 / LSCT south / London Road / 26th Avenue
Southern terminus; I-35 exit 259; northern terminus of I-35; southern end of LSCT concurrency; road continues as London Rd. (former US 61 south)
North Shore Scenic Drive (Scenic 61) / LSCT Spur to CSAH 61
LakeTwo Harbors24.66839.699 North Shore Scenic Drive (CSAH 61) / LSCT Spur
Silver Bay CSAH 5 / FFH 11 (Superior National Forest Scenic Byway)
Illgen City59.30895.447
MN 1 west – Ely
Eastern terminus of MN 1
Little Marais65.271105.043 Little Marais Road (CSAH 6)
CookTofte82.682133.064 Sawbill Trail (CSAH 2)
Lutsen92.528148.909 Caribou Trail (CSAH 4)
Grand Marais110.256177.440 Gunflint Trail (CSAH 12)
Hovland128.867207.391 Arrowhead Trail (CSAH 16)
Pigeon River150.870242.802Grand Portage–Pigeon River Border Crossing
Highway 61 / LSCT north – Thunder BayContinuation into Canada; northern end of LSCT concurrency
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also

Further reading

  • Johnson, Nathan (2021). Highway 61 Through Minnesota. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781467106931.


  1. ^ a b "Trunk Highway Log Point Listing: Construction District 1" (PDF). Minnesota Department of Transportation. August 20, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 4, 2008. Retrieved October 24, 2010.
  2. ^ "Park Info". state.mn.us.
  3. ^ "Park Info". state.mn.us.
  4. ^ "Park Info". state.mn.us.
  5. ^ "Park Info". state.mn.us.
  6. ^ "Park Info". state.mn.us.
  7. ^ "Park Info". state.mn.us.
  8. ^ "Park Info". state.mn.us.

External links