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The Great River Road National Scenic Byway follows the course of the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The scenic route passes through 10 states and hundreds of river towns. The Great River Road is arguably the longest and most important scenic byway in America.

All along the Great River Road, visitors will find interesting things to see and do, including a number of river-related attractions and designated interpretive centers.

Wisconsin

Some of the most beautiful waterscapes and bluff-top views along the Mississippi River can be found in Wisconsin. Learn about Laura Ingalls Wilder in Pepin. Visit wineries and vineyards set in the bluffs along the river. Experience life in a lively river town in La Crosse. And, all along the way, view towboats passing through locks and dams.

Iowa

Moving riverscapes and storybook towns are what you’ll find along the Iowa Great River Road. See the remnants of one of North America’s oldest civilizations at Effigy Mounds National Monument. See historic 1800s river towns like Marquette and McGregor. Climb to the top of the bluff at Pike’s Peak State Park for one of the best views on the entire Mississippi River. Visit museums, shops and restaurants in Davenport and Bettendorf in the Quad Cities area. 

Illinois

As travelers make their way down the Great River Road along Illinois’ western border, they are presented with countless opportunities for bluff-top views and magnificent views of the riverbanks. Visit Galena, a river town like no other, full of historic buildings, antique shops and museums. Go hiking, mountain biking, fishing and boating at Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton. Learn about the power of the Mighty Mississippi and the system of locks and dams at the National Great Rivers Museum in East Alton. Stop in Nauvoo and learn about this quiet community’s importance to Mormons. Climb to the top of Monk’s Mound at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. 

Missouri

From the humble beginnings of Mark Twain in Hannibal to the soaring majesty of the St. Louis Arch, the Missouri Great River Road spans a broad range of American culture. Sample the brews at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, home of some of America’s favorite beers. Discover the rich French heritage of places like Ste. Genevieve. See where the Missouri River meets the Mississippi River at St. Charles.

Kentucky

As the Great River Road travels through Kentucky, it passes through several important archeological sites. One is Wickliffe Mounds State Park, where visitors can learn about this community through a welcome center, museum exhibits and a walking trail. Visitors will enjoy stunning views from the settlement’s Ceremonial Mound.

Tennessee

The Great River Road follows the Mississippi River as it runs along the western side of Tennessee. See the Chickasaw Bluffs rising high above the flood plain. Explore the woodlands of Fort Pillow State Park, site of an important Civil War battle. Experience the beauty of the majestic bald cypresses at Reelfoot Lake State Park, a natural treasure and an important stop for migrating birds. In addition to natural vistas, the Tennessee Great River Road offers bustling cityscapes. Memphis is an important center for music and culture in the South. Memphis’s Graceland, Beale Street, and Sun Studio are considered to be mandatory stops on any music-lover’s journey through the region.

Arkansas

The Great River Road in Arkansas crosses America’s Delta region. The rich soil is planted with soybeans, rice, cotton and wheat. In some places, huge expanses of cropland stretch out for miles. The long history of the region is revealed at the Hampson Archeological Museum State Park and the Parkin Archeological State Park. One of the most interesting geological features of the region is Crowley’s Ridge, which rises up to 200 feet above the broad, flat land of the Delta.

Mississippi

Take a journey through more than 300 years of history in the historic town of Natchez, with its Antebellum homes, horse-drawn carriages and museums. Take a trip down “Blues Alley” and delve into the story of the blues in places like the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, and listen to live music in many river towns along the way. In Vicksburg, you’ll find one of the most important battlefields of the Civil War. The Great River Road in Mississippi offers more than just history. Tunica, at the northern end of Mississippi’s Great River Road, offers casinos, entertainment, museums, river cruises and more.

Louisiana

The long journey of the Mississippi River ends in Louisiana. Perhaps the most storied of the 10 Mississippi River states, a trip along Louisiana’s segment of the Great River Road is an unforgettable trip. Running along both sides of the Mississippi River southward toward the Gulf of Mexico, the road passes through historic river towns such as Tallulah, Vidalia, Morganza, Plaquemine, St. Francisville, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The highlight of the Great River Road in Louisiana is New Orleans, one of America’s oldest cities and a piece of living history. Explore the architecture, incredible music, rich culture and dazzling culinary variety of the French Quarter. Below New Orleans, the road runs along low ground as the landscape flattens and the Mississippi River’s waters join with the Gulf.

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