LAKE MILLE LACS - It has long been known as Minnesota's walleye factory, but now Lake Mille Lacs will also be known for its scenic splendor.

On Wednesday the state announced that a 68-mile loop around Lake Mille Lacs has been named Minnesota's 22nd official Scenic Byway. It's hoped the designation will open up opportunities for increased tourism and promotion.

“Scenic byways offer the best of Minnesota, by vehicle, foot or bicycle,” said Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “Designating scenic byways increases economic benefits through improved traveler and community services, promotion of tourism and a broadened appreciation of the state’s historic and natural resources. We are pleased that Lake Mille Lacs now joins the list of scenic byways.”

The byway loops around Lake Mille Lacs and includes highways 169, 27, 18 and 47. Shakopee Lake Road, which is a county-owned road, is also part of the loop. It is now part of a State Byways system comprised of 2,948 miles of regionally outstanding scenic, natural, recreational, cultural, historic or archaeological significant corridors.

"Designating Lake Mille Lacs as Minnesota’s newest scenic byway corridor will encourage Minnesotans to enjoy a unique part of our state and support the Mille Lacs Area's economic growth and vitality," said Governor Mark Dayton. "I encourage all Minnesotans, and visitors beyond our borders, to plan a trip to Mille Lacs and enjoy all that our newest scenic byway has to offer.”

The commission that designated Lake Mille Lacs as a Scenic Byway is made up of the Minnesota departments of transportation and natural resources, the Minnesota Historical Society and Explore Minnesota.