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23443
Minnesota

A Cycling Journey: Minnesota & the Mississippi

Get to know one of the world’s top cycling cities and the quaint Midwestern towns that surround it as you bike through parks and forests, around lakes and along the Mississippi River.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23443RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
1,999
Minnesota

A Cycling Journey: Minnesota & the Mississippi

Get to know one of the world’s top cycling cities and the quaint Midwestern towns that surround it as you bike through parks and forests, around lakes and along the Mississippi River.
Length
8 days
Starts at
1,999
Program No. 23443 RJ
climate
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At a Glance

Minneapolis is consistently ranked as one of the top cities for cyclists not only in the U.S., but in the world. Join fellow biking buffs in Minneapolis and surrounding Northwoods towns as you cycle past cityscapes, through lush state parks and a national forest or along the Mississippi and Lake Itasca for an up-close perspective on these natural and cultural gems. Watch for nesting eagles in Chippewa National Forest, and learn the history of the park with a Native American resident. Stop in quaint river cities along the Great River Road to experience history museums and Midwest hospitality, as you experience “Minnesota nice.”
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Learn about local landmarks as you cycle through the city on your first day to get acquainted with Minneapolis history by bike.
  • Listen for loons as you cycle around at Itasca State Park, and bike and canoe on the crystal clear Mississippi River.
  • Pedal through miles of virgin pine on the Great River Road through the Chippewa National Forest.

General Notes

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.This program offers a small group experience with a maximum of 14 per departure.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Minnesota’s 20th Century: Stories of Extraordinary Everyday People
by D.J. Tice and Richard Olsenius
Road Biking Minnesota: A Guide to the Greatest Bike Rides in Minnesota (Road Biking Series)
by Russ M. Lowthian
Narrative Journal of Travels Through the Northwestern Regions of the United States
by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft
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8 days
7 nights
18 meals
7 B 5 L 6 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Minneapolis, MN
D
Home2 Suites Roseville

Activity note: Hotel check in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. Please remember to bring your name tag sent with this packet to the program. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet at the front desk when you check in. Orientation: Following registration, our Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Please return the Bicycle Information Form included in this packet for bicycle fitting. The bicycles available for use are Trek FX2 Hybrids. Please note that a mountain bike would not be a suitable option for this program. Bicycles will be transported in a trailer using packing materials. We will do our best to ensure your bicycle is packed safely, but we recommend you remove mirrors, packs, computers, or other accessories that could be damaged during transport. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Before Dinner : If you have rented a bicycle and/or helmet, make sure you work with staff to get it fitted for the week ahead. Weather permitting, we will enjoy an outdoor welcome BBQ dinner with our fellow Road Scholars on the Home2Suites patio. Dinner will be indoors if weather is not accommodating.

Evening: After dinner and orientation, the evening is on your own.

DAY
2
Minneapolis History Bicycle Ride, Itasca State Park
Park Rapids, MN
B,L,D
Itasca Lodging

Activity note: Biking 8 miles in city bicycle lanes with frequent stops, about 2 - 3 hours total. Getting on/off van, driving for about 4 hours with two rest stops.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will choose from a wide buffet selection. Coffee, tea, water, juices available.

Morning: We will set out to explore Minneapolis’ unique history by bicycle, with sites including the Mississippi River, islands, and downtown. We will stop every few blocks in the city to see some of Minneapolis’ attractions, such as the Guthrie Theater with its 178 foot endless bridge with a fabulous view of the Mississippi River.

Lunch: In a downtown Minneapolis park with views of downtown, we will enjoy a boxed lunch along the river. Water included.

Afternoon: We will travel to Itasca State Park in Park Rapids by van. There will be a long rest stop half way. Upon arrival, we stop at the Brower Nature & Visitor Center and then check into our next accommodations.

Dinner: We will enjoy a plated dinner in a historic lodge at Itasca State Park. Choose from 4 - 5 local favorite menu items. Water, iced tea available; alcoholic beverages available at additional cost.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Wilderness Trail Ride, Day in the Park
Park Rapids, MN
B,L,D
Itasca Lodging

Activity note: Biking 17 miles on the Wilderness Trail. The first 5 miles of this route are on bike trail, while the next 12 miles are on a one-way paved road with automobile traffic and rolling hills. Walking 0.5 miles, climbing 100 steps up and down a fire tower.

Breakfast: In a private dining area at the historic lodge, we will enjoy a plated breakfast, with 2 – 3 options to choose from and water, juice, tea, coffee included.

Morning: We will set out on bikes for the 17-mile Wilderness Trail State Park Paved and Scenic Wilderness Loop. Led by an expert, we will stop to see Minnesota’s tallest red and white oak trees, a 100-foot fire tower, and pass numerous lakes to look for native wildlife. We will stop at Elk Lake to enjoy our box lunch and look for loons.

Lunch: Boxed lunches will be provided to you after breakfast to pack for our bicycle ride and enjoyed along the trail.

Afternoon: When we return from our bicycle ride, you will have time to enjoy more of the park. There are many hiking trails, museums, visitor centers, a swimming beach, and canoes, kayaks, and pontoons for rent.

Dinner: We will enjoy a plated dinner at the historic Douglas lodge at Itasca State Park. Choose from 4 – 5 local favorite menu items. Water, iced tea available; alcoholic beverages available at additional cost.

Evening: At leisure or join us at the bonfire for s’mores and campfire songs.

DAY
4
Bemidji, Paul Bunyan, Beltrami County Historical Museum
Bemidji, MN
B,D
Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Bemidji

Activity note: Biking 37 miles from Itasca State Park to Bemidji. The first 5 miles are bicycle trail, followed by 32 miles on paved road with small shoulder and low traffic. This is a rolling country road with low to moderate hills, no major inclines.

Breakfast: We will enjoy an outdoor breakfast picnic offering yogurt, fruit, granola, bagels, cream cheese, and boiled eggs. Coffee, tea, water, included.

Morning: We will check out and leave Itasca State Park on 5 miles of bicycle trail, continuing onto the Great River Road through farmland and forest. We’ll enjoy a rest stop at Minnesota’s newest State Park, Lake LaSalle. Our ride will take us all the way to our next destination, Bemidji, known as the first city on the Mississippi, due to its location on the shores of the northernmost lake feeding the river, Lake Bemidji. We will end our ride at the feet of the famed Paul Bunyan statue, one of Bemidji’s main tourist attractions.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own in downtown Bemidji to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: After checking into our next accommodation, we’ll set out on an expert-led exploration of the Beltrami County Historical Depot and Museum. Exhibits feature photographs, Ojibwe history and artifacts, the changing landscape of Beltrami County, and the impact of the railroad and lumbering that has shaped the area.

Dinner: At the Beltrami County Historical Depot and Museum, we will enjoy a private, catered BBQ dinner with beer, wine, and water available.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy a swim in Lake Bemidji just outside the hotel!

DAY
5
Canoe the Mississippi with a Naturalist, Lake Bike Ride
Bemidji, MN
B,L
Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Bemidji

Activity note: Getting in/out of canoe. Canoeing 2 – 3 hours on Lake Bemidji and the Mississippi River. Elective 17-mile bike ride on flat, paved terrain with low automobile traffic in some stretches. Dress for time on the water, with layers, a large brimmed hat, shoes that attach and can get wet, and clothing that can get wet and dry quickly. Today is a good day to bring binoculars!

Breakfast: In the hotel lobby, grab your breakfast buffet including a variety of hot and cold dishes and meet in the hotel meeting room for a local naturalist informational chat about the Mississippi, native plants, wildrice, and berries, and wildlife. Coffee, tea, water included.

Morning: We will begin our day with a short canoe lesson and safety overview before we depart on a leisurely canoe journey along the lakeshore right outside our hotel looking for pelican, eagle, ducks, and loons.

Lunch: We will enjoy box lunches back at the hotel. Water and coffee included.

Afternoon: You will have two opportunities to select from. One option will be to participate in a 17-mile loop bike ride with our experts around the Lake Bemidji, enjoying the lake while seeing Bemidji State Park, resorts, Bemidji State University, and downtown Bemidji. Our second option will be an exploration of the Bemidji Woolen Mill lead by 4th generation owner. Learn about the woolen industry, the top selling buffalo plaid, and the amazing machines that create these beautiful handmade coats.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Van will be available for those that want rides, but downtown is about 6 blocks away.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Paul Bunyan Trail, Free Time
Walker, MN
B,L,D
Walker Country Inn

Activity note: Biking from Bemidji to Walker on the Paul Bunyan Trail; 32 miles on flat, paved terrain.

Breakfast: At our hotel’s breakfast buffet, we will choose from a wide selection of hot and cold dishes; coffee, tea, water included.

Morning: After checking out, we will bike from Bemidji to Walker via the peaceful and flat Paul Bunyan Trail. We’ll wind through small towns and enjoy the privacy of the Paul Bunyan Trail, which is for walkers and bikers only, stopping for a break in the small towns of Guthrie and LaPorte.

Lunch: Upon arrival in Walker, we’ll enjoy a boxed lunch in Walker City Park.

Afternoon: After checking into our next hotel, we’ll get a taste of rural Minnesota and enjoy the town of Walker. Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Sit on the beach, explore downtown, or rent a pontoon to see the lake or a boat to go fishing.

Dinner: We’ll walk across the street for a plated dinner. Choose from 5 – 6 items of the menu. Coffee, ice tea, and water included. Alcoholic beverages on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
The Iron Range Mesabi Trail and the Forest History Center
Grand Rapids, MN
B,L,D
AmericInn by Wyndham Grand Rapids

Activity note: Driving in a van for about 1.5 hours. Morning 16-mile bike ride on paved, hilly bicycle trail. Afternoon walking on uneven gravel surfaces for about ¼ mile at the Forest History Center.

Breakfast: Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. We will choose from a wide selection of hot and cold dishes, coffee, tea, water, and juices are available.

Morning: : We will check out and then travel by van for about 90 minutes where we will unload the bicycles for a morning in the Iron Range area of Minnesota. This bicycle path travels through a variety of tiny iron range towns. As a group we will travel 16 miles of the Mesabi Trail which is a multi-use state trail with many rolling hills. After our ride, we will load our bicycles and ourselves and travel 10 minutes to the Forest History Center, a lumber camp from 1900. On this walking field trip, we can see a reenactment of a real lumber camp, complete with historical reenactors utilizing the camp’s bunks, blacksmith shop, dining hall, stable, and saw-sharpening buildings to bring history to life. We will then visit the Forest History Center, a lumber camp from 1900. On this walking field trip, we can see a reenactment of a real lumber camp, complete with historical reenactors utilizing the camp’s bunks, blacksmith shop, dining hall, stable, and saw-sharpening buildings to bring history to life.

Lunch: At the Forest History Center, we will enjoy a picnic lunch.

Afternoon: After checking into our next hotel you will have time to relax in the pool and hot tub.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we will enjoy a traditional Minnesota dining experience, choosing between 2 – 3 menu items, with water and iced tea included. Alcoholic beverages available at an additional cost.

Evening: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a slide show of pictures from the week.

DAY
8
Program Concludes
Minneapolis, MN
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m. departure to Minneapolis; please do not book flights out of MSP until after 4:00 p.m.

Breakfast: Hotel check-out by 7:00 a.m with departure at 8:00 a.m. to return to our starting location at Home2Suites.

Morning: Our group will depart for Minneapolis, returning to our first hotel at approximately 1:00 p.m. for departures via car or rides to the airport which is 30 minutes away. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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