Visitors Guide to
Regional Attractions
in the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway Area
Madison, Jersey & Calhoun Counties, Illinois
   
A wide range of places to see and things to do awaits visitors to the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway region. If you’re interested in history the area the Lewis & Clark and Cahokia Mounds State Historic Sites are just a few sites that can be found. The same can be said for nature lovers who will find plants, animals and landscapes at Pere Marquette State Park, Horseshoe State Park, and a large number of other natural areas. Bikers, joggers, and walkers can travel on the Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail that winds it way right along the Mississippi. These are just a few of the attractions that can be found in the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway.
   

Wood River Area
  The Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway begins in the town of Hartford. The Hartford/Wood River area is Lewis & Clark country because it was here that those great explorers began their journey in 1804. Farther north in East Alton are the Melvin Price Locks and Dam and the National Great Rivers Museum.

Alton Area
  Alton is the largest city in the Scenic Byway area. Alton is the home of several Civil War related sites, as well as the Alton Museum of History and Art, Robert Wadlow (the world's tallest man,) and several historic districts. In Godfrey, visitors can find 300 acres of tall-grass prairie and woodlands at the Olin Nature Preserve. Crossing the Mississippi via the Clark Bridge leads to the Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area. Just northwest of the Alton Visitors Center is the start of the Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail.

The Sam Vadalabene
Bike Trail
  The Vadalabene Trail is approximately 20 miles of level paved trail that parallels the Great River Road and the center portion of the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway. The trail is named after Sam M. Vadalabene, an Illinois State Senator and proponent of the trail and begins in Alton, travels through the river towns of Elsah and Grafton, and ends at Pere Marquette State Park. Riders, walkers, and joggers will see prairie wildflowers along the trail as well as flowering trees during the spring. Brilliant reds, yellows and oranges compliment the scenery in the fall. For those willing to brave the elements in the winter months should be able to see Bald Eagles soaring over the river and bluffs, or floating down the river on chunks of ice.

Elsah and Grafton
  Northwest of Alton, the Scenic Byway travels to the river towns of Elsah and Grafton. The entire town of Elsah has been designated a historic district and is home to a number of Bed and Breakfasts. Grafton is situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and is known as "The Winter Home of The Bald Eagle" due to the number of good eagle watching sites in its proximity.

Calhoun County
  Calhoun County lies west of the Scenic Byway and is almost completely surrounded by water. The 4 ferries connecting Calhoun County with the rest of the region provide an interesting mode of transportation. Sites in the area include the Brussels Historic District, the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge and the Center for American Archeology in Kampsville.

Pere Marquette State Park
  Pere Marquette is Illinois' largest state park and is famous for the beauty of its fall colors and as a home for bald eagles in the winter. The park offers its visitors diverse recreational and educational opportunities that encompass the past, present and future. The new Visitors Center provides displays that cover the region’s history and the types of environments the visitor can encounter as well as housing informative interpretative programs. The park has 10 hiking trails that traverse a variety of terrains and horseback riding is offered during the warmer months. The park has year round electric and basic campgrounds. The Lodge consists of both new facilities as well as those constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. All this and more makes Pere Marquette State Park a great place to explore!

Jerseyville Area
  To the north and east of the Scenic Byway are the towns of Jerseyville and Otterville. Visit the Historic Courthouse Square, the Fulkerson Mansion, and the Cheney House in Jerseyville. The Hamilton Primary School, the first integrated school in the country, is in Otterville.

Southern and Eastern
Madison County
  In the Southern Madison County area travelers will find the remains of a prehistoric Native American civilization at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Horseshoe Lake State Park is known for fishing, hunting and its excellent bird watching opportunities. Route 66 passed through Edwardsville and Granite City, and Collinsville is the site of the world’s largest catsup bottle. There are several local history museums and numerous sites and districts on the National Register of Historic Places.
   
For Travelers Heading Across the River
  Meeting the Missouri River
The two longest rivers of the United States, the Missouri and the Mississippi, meet at St. Charles County, Missouri. The Historic St. Charles downtown area offers visitors a variety of attractions including the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center, The Foundry Art Centre, and Missouri’s First State Capitol. Nearby is Confluence State Park and the Daniel Boone Home.
  St. Louis Area
Metropolitan St. Louis has a lot to offer its visitors. The area's most prominent attraction is the Gateway Arch, which is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial complex that also includes the Museum of Westward Expansion. St. Louis has a number of outstanding public institutions that are free to visit including the Zoo, Art Museum, History Museum, and the Science Center. The St. Louis region has a number of green spaces for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Faust County Park, in St. Louis County, is home to many historical and cultural attractions including the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, a historical village, and the St. Louis Carousel. The county is also home to Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park, Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, the Powder Valley Conservation Area.
For Travelers Heading Down River
  French Colonial Country
Down river of St. Louis and the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway area is French Colonial Country. This five county area was heavily influenced by the French fur traders who inhabited the region from 1700 to 1840. Attractions include the town of Ste. Genevieve with the largest concentration of French Colonial architecture in North America, Forts de Chartre and Kaskaskia in Randolph County, and the Cahokia complex in St. Clair County.
For Travelers Heading Up River
  Missouri's Lincoln Hills
The Lincoln Hills region of Missouri north of St. Louis is often called the Northern Ozarks. In the north is Hannibal, which conjures up images of the steamboat era and has become virtually synonymous with Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, and Huck Finn. South of Hannibal is the Little Dixie Scenic Byway that travels atop limestone bluffs and through the real river towns of Clarksville and Louisiana. At the foot of the Lincoln Hills in Lincoln County is Cuivre River State Park, one of Missouri's largest and most rugged.
   
FEATURED ATTRACTIONS ALONG THE GREAT RIVER ROAD
Mississippi
River Ferries
Sam Vadalabene
Bike Trail
Jacoby Arts Center
Alton, Illinois
Historic
Elsah, Illinois
     



 
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National Scenic Byway
Ste. Genevieve &
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Gateway to the West
St. Louis & St. Louis County
        
 
   Meeting the Missouri
Historic St. Charles County
The Lincoln Hills Region
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