During one of several drives I’ve taken through Minnesota’s southeastern reaches, my iPhone map sent me down a dirt road. Normally, I’d worry about getting lost as the dust kicked up behind the car. Instead, I was content. Marshy ponds dotted the land. Bands of color, from green to yellow to red, crawled up distant hills.

I should slow down — even get lost — on Minnesota’s back roads more often.

Photographer Brian Peterson and I have essentially been doing that for nearly a year now. Our drives on the two-lanes and gravel roads that cut across the state fueled the four-part State of Wonders series, which culminates with today’s story on the blufflands and forests of the southeastern corner.

In the series, we also highlighted winter on the Arrowhead, spring on the Big Bog and other points northwest, and summer on the southwestern prairie.

To see all the State of Wonders stories, go to www.startribune.com/stateofwonders. There, you can revel in the full selection of Brian’s arresting photographs in slide shows and videos. Want to share a photograph with friends? At the site, you can order prints of any of the photos to hang on your walls, and send e-postcards to friends.

Brian and I often returned from our respective journeys, and wound up at one another’s desk to marvel at what we had seen. There were the early morning mating dances of prairie chickens, carnivorous plants on the bog and buffalo roaming the prairie. Still, we know we haven’t seen it all. Our experiences only affirmed that the vast state that we love, with its range of beautiful landscapes and hidden gems, contains almost ceaseless wonders. Surely, some more await us all. Just head to a back road.

 

Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.