Go off the beaten path: Great River Road

Spanning the whole height of the United States, this road trip truly is epic...

Last month we brought you two fantastic scenic road trip routes from our friend Rachel Bowes at 4Wheel Drive Hardware. As we inch closer to the wonderful thaw of spring, she presents to you two more great trips, this time in the Midwest: The Great River Road and the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway… First, the epic Great River Road...

The Great River Road

Length: 3,000 miles

Time: 36 hours minimum

The longest, by far, of all the road trips in this series, The Great River Road passes through 10 states from Minnesota to Louisiana, following the Mississippi River. It takes 36 hours to drive straight through, though many stretch the trip out to a week. With young ones, that can be a daunting length of time, so we advise choosing the closest segment of it and taking a day to adventure along the river. No matter how far you go, the Great River Road has plenty to offer, from river-related activities to quaint towns and villages, diverse culture and beautiful scenery.

“My son was 16 when we took that trip. I ended up letting him drive about 500 miles; he basically learned to drive on that trip. It was a great experience, just he and I. We also detoured down to Mount Rushmore, which is an absolute must-see,” says auto-expert Robert King.

Places to Stop:

The National Eagle Center in Minnesota, where the little ones can interact with live eagles, learn through hands-on activities and take a guided eagle viewing family field trip.

Buena Vista Park in Wisconsin gives everyone a chance to get out and stretch with hiking trails and breathtaking views of the Mississippi River.

The Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa are a peaceful place to take a rest after a long day of driving, with 200+ American Indian mounds in one of the most picturesque sections of the Upper Mississippi River Valley.

The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in Missouri/Illinois stretches a mile across the Mississippi from Madison Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri. Now reserved for pedestrians, the bridge is truly a unique way to experience the river.

Adventure Addition: If you want to get out of the vehicle and do some exploring, there are countless hiking paths on either end of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge available to you so you can experience the Mississippi on foot.

More in the Off the Beaten Path series:

Sandhills Journey Byway


Go off the beaten path with these western roads: Columbia River Highway and San Juan Skyway

About the author:

Rachel Bowes is an outdoors and 4x4 lifestyle writer for 4Wheel Drive Hardware, prominent retailer of aftermarket Jeep parts like Jeep soft tops and wheels. If you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to follow Rachel on Google Plus.

Places explored in this article:

This was originally written for Roadtrippers, a great resource for anyone interested in travel.
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