Visitors Guide to the Middle Mississippi River Valley
||The Great River Road
is one of America’s national treasures.
greatriverroad.com's coverage extends
from the Keokuk, Iowa and Nauvoo, Illinois region to the areas in Missouri
and western Kentucky south of where the Ohio River joins the
in the south. greatriverroad.com brings our
readers information on both the sides of the river from Illinois and western
Kentucky on the eastern bank and Iowa and Missouri on the
Our coverage is divided into geographical regions that and brings you information on what to
see and do, in-depth coverage of annual events, and where to shop, stay, and
eat. We cover the history of real river towns and interesting facts to
enhance your visit. Each region offers it visitors a different aspect of
life along the Mississippi River whether its small town
life, the big city atmosphere of the St. Louis metropolitan
area, or the beginning of the Southern way of life.
invites you to explore our pages and then to
explore all the many regions and cultures of the Middle Mississippi River Valley.
greatriverroad.com covers the following
of the Middle Mississippi River Valley
Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway
Illinois counties of Calhoun,
Jersey, and Madison
B- French Colonial Country
Illinois counties of St. Clair,
Monroe, and Randolph
Missouri counties of Ste. Genevieve
C- Gateway to the West
St. Louis and St. Louis
D- Meeting the Missouri River
St. Charles County, Missouri
E- Missouri's Lincoln Hills
Missouri counties of Lincoln, Pike, Ralls,
F- The Tri-State Area
Lee County, Iowa
Illinois counties of Hancock,
Adams, and Pike
Missouri counties of Lewis and Clark
G- Meeting the Ohio River
Missouri counties of Perry, Cape Girardeau, Scott, and
Illinois counties of Jackson,
Union, and Alexander
Kentucky counties of Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton,
H- The Upper Delta Region
Missouri counties of New Madrid,
Arkansas counties of Clay, Greene, Craighead,
Poinsett, Cross, Mississippi, and Crittenden
Tennessee counties of Lake, Obion, Dyer, Lauderdale, and
CLICK HERE FOR THE AREA MAP INDEX
SPOTLIGHT ON CULTURE
Misselhorn Art Gallery
Located in the old GM&O train depot, this art gallery features the work of
renowned Southern Illinois sketch artist Roscoe Misselhorn (1902-1997,) who
has been called the Norman Rockwell of the Midwest. The museum also features
a permanent exhibit of movie-making memorabilia related to the 1967
Oscar-winning Best Picture film “In the Heat of the Night,” as Sparta was
one of the locations used for the film.
Click here for more information ...
Lewis & Clark Boathouse & Nature Center
Saint Charles, Missouri
William Clark and the Corps of Discovery arrived in Saint Charles on May 14,
1804. Meriwether Lewis was still in St. Louis attending to last minute
details. Lewis arrived in Saint Charles on May 20 and the Corps departed the
next day. This departure marked the point where the Corps had its full
complement of men and leaders. This was also the last time that they saw a
significant European settlement until they returned on September 20, 1804,
two days before their journey ended when they reached St. Louis. The
Discovery Expedition of Saint Charles has put together a museum and operates
this certified site of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail. The lower
level of the Boat House is home to full size replicas of a keelboat and two
pirogues. The upper level features a museum, classrooms, and a gift shop.
Click here for more information ...
4 QUESTIONS 4
Karen Jackson of
Captain Andy’s Parasail
#1 Do I have to get wet when I Parasail?
We have a Fly High Stay Dry policy here on the river. Of course, you are on
water and you could get wet just being on a boat. But we want you to stay
dry and spend your day in Grafton at the shops and wineries. You will take
off and land dry on the back of our boat!
#2 How long will I be in the air?
At Captain Andy’s we will try to keep you in the air for 12 - 14 minutes.
You will have a scenic boat ride and depending on how many flyers are on
your tour, the ride could be 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
#3 Do I have to Parasail if I come on the
You can pick up an Observers Ticket and ride along and enjoy the thrill as
your friends and family rise high in the sky! You will have a nice boat ride
and watching the parasail open up and launch is quite colorful site from
inside the boat!
#4 Who was your oldest parasailer?
Last fall, 2013, we had the wonderful privilege of taking a Great-Great
Grandmother from St. Louis parasailing for her 99th birthday! Her
granddaughter had surprised her and flew with her as many family members
watched from the boat. She had such a good time that they have recently
reserved a date to do it again for her 100th birthday yet this season!
Click here for more information ...
OF THE GREAT RIVERS SCENIC BYWAY AREA
The Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway area
is where greatriverroad.com
began. We started covering the region in early
2001, have been expanding our coverage ever since, and this area remains our
flagship. The Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway area is where the
Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois Rivers meet. Here you'll find
magnificent limestone bluffs, forested parks and wildlife areas, real river
towns, ferries that ply the rivers, brilliant fall colors, wintering bald
eagles, and friendly and gracious people. Two
jewels anchor the byway: Pere Marquette State Park (photo right) in the north and the
Lewis and Clark State Historic Site in the south. The Vadalabene Bike Trail
parallels the Great River Road beneath towering limestone bluffs between
Alton and the Pere Marquette. These are just some of the treasures awaiting visitors
to this region. Click here to learn more
about our coverage that includes the Illinois counties of
Madison, Jersey and Calhoun.
The region along the Mississippi River south of
St. Louis is French Colonial Country having been claimed by France after an
expedition led by Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette. The area is the oldest
region settled by Europeans west of the Appalachian Mountains with the
founding of Cahokia in 1699, the same year as Williamsburg, the colonial
capitol of Virginia, and predating New Orleans by nearly 20 years. Although
English is the common language spoken in the region today, the French
heritage is not forgotten. Ste. Genevieve (photo right) has more than 150 pre-1825
structures and the region has the largest concentration of French Colonial
architecture in the North America. Fort de Chartres, a rebuilt 18th century
French Fort, is the Mississippi Valley’s premier site for French Colonial
here to learn more about our coverage that includes Randolph,
Monroe, and St. Clair counties
in Illinois and Ste. Genevieve and Jefferson Counties, Missouri.
TO THE WEST
The St. Louis metropolitan area is one of the few truly cosmopolitan
destinations along the Great River Road and has a lot to offer its visitors.
The area's most prominent attraction is the Gateway Arch, the jewel of the
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. St. Louis has a number of outstanding
public institutions that are free to visit: the Zoo, Art Museum, History
Museum, and the Science Center. St. Louis is home to a vibrant art scene
with new and revitalized institutions, along with world-class architecture
and public sculpture. The region has a number of green spaces for nature and
outdoor enthusiasts including Forest Park is, one of the largest urban parks
in the United States. greatriverroad.com lists over 80 attractions and
invites you to explore the St. Louis area.
here to learn more about our coverage that includes
St. Louis and St. Louis County, Missouri.
THE MISSOURI RIVER
The two longest rivers of the United States, the Missouri and the
Mississippi, meet at the eastern tip of St. Charles County, Missouri. The city of
Charles is the county seat and is situated
a short drive northwest of St. Louis and traces
its history to the late 18th century. American settlers began settling the
area shortly before the Louisiana Purchase in 1804 and the city served as the first state Capitol in Missouri. The
beautifully preserved historic districts of downtown Main Street and nearby
Frenchtown are a shopper’s paradise with over 100 specialty shops, antique
stores, and restaurants. The keelboat (photo right) of the Lewis & Clark
Boat House is housed in a certified Lewis & Clark site that sits
on the banks of the Missouri River where the explorers left the last outpost
of European civilization in 1804. The Foundry Art Centre is a wonderful new
facility with four galleries for exhibits and studios where visitors can
talk with the artists as they work. The wide variety of special events that
occur throughout the year make St. Charles an interesting stop along the
Great River Road or as a destination in itself. A short drive down Highway 94 from
St. Charles is Augusta, situated in the wine country of the Missouri River
bluffs. Visitors will find a number of wineries, shops, and B&B's in
this area. Click
here to learn more about our coverage that includes St. Charles County, Missouri.
Lincoln Hills is geological formation that spans four counties north of St.
Louis along the Mississippi River. The region is so similar to that of
southern Missouri that the region is often called the Northern Ozarks.
Located in the northern most county of the area is Hannibal, which conjures up images of the steamboat era of the mid-19th
century. The town has become virtually synonymous with Mark Twain, Tom
Sawyer, and Huck Finn. Hannibal is host to a large number of museums,
historic houses, river related attractions, shops, and events that make it a
top destination of visitors. South of Hannibal and stretching for 30 miles
along the Great River Road is one of America’s newest Scenic Byways: The
Little Dixie Scenic Byway. The Byway travels atop limestone bluffs and
offers stunning views of the mighty Mississippi River. The real river towns
of Clarksville and Louisiana are main attractions along the route as are the
bald eagles (photo right) that flock to Lock and Dam #24 in the winter. A
burgeoning community of talented artists is springing up in the region, many
who have shops in the downtown districts. At the foot of the Lincoln Hills
in Lincoln County is Cuivre River State Park, one of Missouri's largest and
most rugged. Click
here to learn more about our coverage that includes Lincoln, Pike, Ralls, and Marion counties in Missouri.
THE TRI-STATE AREA
The northern most region that greatriverroad.com covers is a collection of
six counties in the area where the borders of Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri
meet. The cities of Keokuk, Fort Madison, and Quincy have all made
significant efforts to make a visit to their community an enjoyable
experience. The town of Nauvoo, known for its place in the history of the
Mormon’s Great Trek to Utah, is the most comprehensive restoration project
in the Middle Mississippi River Valley. It’s entirely possible to spend a
full day exploring Nauvoo. There are plenty of museums, cultural
institutions, and events to keep a visitor to the region occupied. Nature
lovers will find plenty of state parks and conservation areas. One of the
most scenic sections of the Great River Road is IL-96 south of Nauvoo
where the tree-lined road is just yards from the river and is very
beautiful in the fall and where bald eagles can be seen in the winter.
here to learn more about our coverage that includes Lee County, Iowa, Lewis
and Clark Counties in Missouri, and Hancock, Adams, and Pike Counties in
MEETING THE OHIO RIVER
After the Mississippi River passes St. Louis it begins to change character.
When the Mississippi River meets the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois it is
halfway on its journey to the sea. It is here that the brown muddy water of
the Mississippi begins to mingle with the clearer water of the Ohio. Without
the locks and dams the Mississippi begins to wind and curve so much so that
the distance by water from Cape Girardeau to the Gulf of Mexico is twice the
distance as a crow flies. The region where the Mississippi River meets the
Ohio River is an area of transition in several respects both in terms of the
flora and fauna but the culture begins to take on that of the Deep South.
The Meeting the Ohio region of the Middle Mississippi River Valley offers it
visitors a wide variety of options of activities to do and sites to see.
Whether you’re looking for historical or cultural sites or a place to enjoy
nature you’ll find it in this part of the country.
here to learn more about our coverage that includes
Perry, Cape Girardeau, Scott, and Mississippi Counties in Missouri, Jackson,
Union, and Alexander Counties in Illinois, and Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman,
and Fulton Counties in western Kentucky.
THE UPPER DELTA REGION
Upper Delta Region of the Middle Mississippi River Valley is where
the river really meets the south. The area is the Upper Delta in
terms of culture as geologically it is part of the Mississippi River
Embayment. The area includes the Bootheel region of Missouri, the
scene of the famous 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes. In northeast
Arkansas greatriverroad.com departs from its normal rule of only
covering counties that border the river by adding coverage of the
Crowley’s Ridge Scenic Byway with its Ozark like terrain and many
state parks and attractions. There are a large variety of
attractions in western Tennessee including Reelfoot Lake,
Tennessee’s largest natural lake and the home of a large population
bald eagles during the winter and is also a birder and fisherman’s
paradise. Click here to learn more
about our coverage that includes New Madrid, Pemiscot, and Dunklin
counties in Missouri, and Mississippi, Crittenden, Clay, Greene,
Craighead, Poinsett, and Cross counties in Arkansas, and Lake,
Obion, Dyer, Lauderdale, and Tipton counties in Tennessee.
While researching the region we at
greatriverroad.com have found that some topics encompass more than one
region and that the amount of information we gathered warrants a special
section. The Middle Mississippi River Valley has a vibrant art community
with a number of museums, galleries, public spaces, and events. Lewis and
Clark made a number of stops as the journeyed up the Mississippi and
prepared for their voyage west. Bald eagles from the Great Lakes flock the
region during the winter with two towns making the claim "the eagle
viewing capitol of the United States." The region’s woodlands come
alive with color in the fall, ferries offer a unique way to cross the
Mississippi and Illinois rivers, and antique hunters will find treasures in
the many towns along the Great River Road.