The Great River Road follows the Mississippi River from its humble headwaters in the northwoods of Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. As you travel along the Great River Road and through the ten-state region, you'll discover a rich and diverse history, culture and landscape. Follow the natural current of this site Along and Beyond the river to create a Mississippi River experience just right for you. Offical Website
One River. In the Travel Along the River section, you'll find yourself directly along the banks of the mighty Mississippi herself, where a journey on the historic Great River Road Scenic Byway awaits.
Ten States. The Travel Beyond the River section takes you off the beaten path of the River to explore the entirety of the states: (north to south) Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
See the whole Great River Road map (pdf) used by permission of the Mississippi River Parkway Commission
The river begins its 2,552 mile journey to the sea from its headwaters in Itasca State Park. From its ankle-deep source, the mighty Mississippi winds its way through Minnesota - from the northern wilderness through contemporary, cosmopolitan cities to rich farmlands and plains. Each bend of the river offers something new in the land of 15,000 lakes. From professional baseball thrills in the new Target Field, to the Mall of America, the nation's largest fully enclosed shopping and entertainment complex, to more than 500 beautiful golf courses, the good times flow like the river. Visit www.exploreminnesota.com.
Wisconsin, located in America's heartland, is a four-season travel destination offering both urban and rural vacations. Ranked a top travel spot in the United States, Wisconsin owes much of its popularity to its natural beauty, with two Great Lakes, Superior and Michigan, and the world's most famous river, the Mississippi, as well as 15,000 inland lakes.
Forty percent of the state is forested land, with 43 state parks and 11 state forests providing plenty of outdoor recreation. Wisconsin's also been described as having the best natural golf course landscape in the country.
In the spring and summer, travelers enjoy water-related activities, including fishing, sailing and canoeing. Fall is the time for majestic color when the leaves turn and the entire state offers spectacular scenic touring. Winter features ample cross-country and downhill skiing, festivals, sled dog races, sleigh rides and snowmobiling. Visit www.travelwisconsin.com.
As you make your way along the 326-mile Iowa Great River Road, you’ll find the Midwest's friendliest people and hospitality that’s unmatched.
International Iowa welcomes you with the hospitality of many cultures. Explore Old World ways in Cedar Rapid's Czech village and Decorah's Vesterheim Norwegian Museum. German hospitality greets you in the Amana Colonies; Pella "blooms" its Dutch Welcome at Tulip Time; and Tama introduces you to the Mesquakie Indians. Wherever you go, Iowa will make you smile. Visit www.traveliowa.com.
No trip to Illinois is complete without a stay in Chicago, the big lake-shore city with world neighborhoods, internationally acclaimed museums, performing arts, professional sports, world-class shopping, and the world's tallest building. History buffs must also see Springfield, Abraham Lincoln's home and burial site; Galena, a charming Victorian city; and the Greater Alton area. All known for their antique stores and resort activities.
The Mississippi River winds for 450 miles from the northern border to the southern tip of Illinois, past places reminiscent of America's riverboat days. Today's riverboat gaming casinos add new entertainment to Illinois. Visit www.enjoyillinois.com.