Great River Road

In Illinois on the Great River Road
On the Great River Road in Illinois
Great River Road map

The Great River Road is a 2,069-mile route that runs north-south on both sides of the Mississippi River from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way the route passes through ten states: Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Wisconsin. The Great river Road is not a single route but a designated scenic byway that passes over many federal, state, county and municipal roads and streets. In some areas it shares the route with other scenic byways.

As an idea, the Great River Road was born in 1936. Signage along what became the designated route started to appear in the late 1950's and Congress finally began funding recommended improvements along the route in 1973. By 1982 more than $310 million went into upgrading the infrastructure of the Great River Road. There was also a time when extensions of the route fed into Ontario and Manitoba.

Attractions along the Great River Road






  • Effigy Mounds National Monument
  • Green Island State Wildlife Refuge
  • Iowa Army Ammunition Plant
  • Mines of Spain State Recreation Area
  • Nahant Marsh Education Center
  • National Mississippi River Museum
  • Old Fort Madison
  • Pikes Peak State Park
  • Putnam Museum of History and Natural Science
  • Toolesboro Indian Mounds National Historic Landmark
  • Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge
  • Wildcat Den State Park
  • Yellow River Forest State Recreation Area


  • Columbus-Belmont State Park
  • Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge
  • Wickliffe Mounds State Park










  • Alex Haley State Historic Site
  • Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge
  • Fort Pillow State Historic Park
  • Lake Isom National Wildlife Refuge
  • Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge
  • Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
  • Reelfoot Lake State Park
  • Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge



Maps of the Great River Road

Oak alley Plantation in Louisiana
A foggy morning at Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana
Vicksburg's Old Courthouse Museum
The Old Courthouse Museum in Vicksburg

Upper photo courtesy of Wikipedia userid Kbh3rd, CCA-by-SA 3.0 License
Other photos and maps are in the public domain