Minnesota County Challenge

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Do you want to take the Minnesota County Challenge? Or the challenge for any other state? Growing up in Minnesota, I’ve crisscrossed this great state countless times over the years. Yet I never realized how many of its 87 counties I still had left to visit until recently when I learned about the Extra Miler Club. This nationwide group encourages people to visit every county in the U.S. and Canada, whether going for all 3,000+ US counties or just checking off the ones in your home state. Here’s a link to other Minnesota travel destinations.

Do you want to take the Minnesota County Challenge?
All “Colored” in!

Inspired, I decided to take on the Minnesota County Challenge!

With my trusty Minnesota county map in hand, I plotted out potential weekend road trips to fill in the gaps. Although tracking down every last county was never my intention, I became determined to finish what I started.

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 Continuing the Minnesota County Challenge

Over the past few years, I’ve trekked everywhere from the North Shore to the Iowa border, watching my county list grow. You taste Minnesota’s diverse landscapes and cultures while traversing the quiet rural roads. From the rugged Lake Superior coastline to the rolling farmlands of the south, each county has its own unique charm.

Last weekend, I set out to tackle my final unvisited county – Swift County. Located in west central Minnesota, I figured I must have passed through before but couldn’t recall a specific visit.

 Yellowstone Trail on the path to another county

I followed the historic Yellowstone Trail of Minnesota, taking this auto trail south out of the Twin Cities before angling west. The heavily overcast winter day with drizzle didn’t entice me to stop much. After briefly visiting Lac Qui Parle State Park along the Minnesota River, I drove to Swift County and back home – just long enough to officially log it. (I did stop in St. Cloud and had dinner with my daughter.)

Part of the Minnesota County Challenge relating to this trip
Click the image for the interactive map.

 I’ve done it!

Returning home, I felt an unexpected sense of accomplishment at completing my cross-country journey. Turns out our familiar home states still hold plenty left to explore! While I won’t join those visiting all 3,000+ counties, I’m glad I took the time to traverse my own state from border to border. I’ve survived the Minnesota County Challenge!

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By the way, the only other states I’ve completed are Delaware (3 counties) and Rhode Island (5 counties). Since those states are so small, it’s easy to tick them off. I wasn’t even trying. I just looked where I drove, and it fell that way!

 Summary of county challenge

Have you completed the county challenge in your home state? Let me know in the comments if you have any tips for must-see counties! I may have finished Minnesota’s 87, but I know there’s still so much more to discover across the state (and so many more states!)

Do you want to join the Extra Miler Club? They provide encouragement, tracking, and swag for those attempting individual states or the entire country. Want to join? It’s $12 a year. The group has an annual meeting and promotes visiting every county in the US and Canada.

County definitions and more info

A related website called Mob-Rule.com allows you to track your counties. The maps of Minnesota above and the US map below are screen captures from that site. You can use it to track your visits to the 3,000+ US counties or check off the ones in your home state. And view the entire US in context with the Minnesota County Challenge.

By the way, that’s “county-equivalents” in some cases. For example, Louisiana has “parishes” instead of counties. Alaska has boroughs. Alaska also has an Unorganized Borough that includes all land not in another borough. The US Census Bureau further defines those areas as 11 Census-Designated-Places. Their commonality is that none of them have any local government. They are governed directly by the state of Alaska.

Picture of the Minnesota County Challenge in context to the entire US.

Maybe the quote is, “So many counties, so little time!”

Classic Rock Recollection

“Against the Wind” by Bob Seger

Against the wind
I’m still runnin’ against the wind
I’m older now but still runnin’ against the wind

Written by Bob Seger

#thedrivebytourist #yellowstonetrail #minnesotacountychallenge #alluscounties