Apple Blossom Scenic Drive

Hiking at Apple Blossom Overlook Park in La Crescent, Minnesota in fall.

Have you enjoyed the Apple Blossom Scenic Drive yet? Early to Mid-May is the peak season to experience the natural beauty of rolling hills covered in blossoming apple trees. Plan to bike or drive the 17-mile route before the season ends!  Ride along the bluff-top roads that overlook the Mississippi River and La Crosse, and descend into the Pine Creek Valley for your return trip back to La Crescent, Minnesota.

Nestled between the Mississippi River on the East and towering bluffs on the West, lies La Crescent, MN. “The nearby orchards remind us of our heritage, especially in the spring with the apple blossoms and their fragrance or in the fall with the multitude of colors,” states the La Crescent Chamber of Commerce. The history is rich in La Crescent as their first orchard was planted in the 1850s. The small community is claimed as the Apple Capital of Minnesota, but the orchards span far into the bluffs along the Minnesota Scenic Byway.

The route is famous for its breathtaking landscape bursting with thousands of sweet-smelling apple blossoms. For this reason, Cherryl Jostad, from the La Crescent City Council, comments that “Apple Blossom Drive is among my ‘must-do’ activities with visitors.” On May 18th, she updated that “As one winds to the top of the bluff overlooking La Crescent and the Mississippi, there is currently an orchard in bloom to the right, and a bit farther along, one on the left.” Cherryl also encourages tourists to enjoy a picnic lunch while soaking in the views of the Driftless Region on the various wayside pull-offs.

The “17-mile route isn’t so much a way to reach your next destination as it is a destination unto itself,” mentions the La Crosse Tribune. Conveniently, each end of Apple Blossom Scenic Drive connects to Great River Road (Highway 61), so it is easily accessible for cars and cyclers alike. Enjoying the road trip? With connections to the National Scenic Byway, you can continue course through the Mississippi River Valley! For directions to the route from La Crescent, MN, Click Here.

Looking to explore via bicycle? Apple Blossom Loop is very popular; commonly tackled by local riders and those new to the road cycling scene in the Driftless Region. The picturesque loop is approximately 35 miles long, traveling from La Crosse, through apple orchards, over the bluffs with views of the Mississippi River and descending into La Crescent, MN. Click Here to view an interactive map that provides a detailed description, elevation, cue sheets, and more. For even more fun you can join the annual Apple Blossom Bike Tour, held by the La Crescent Rotary which takes them on 1 of 6 possible routes through the beautiful Apple Blossom Valley region.