Great River Road


Some of the region’s most dramatic scenery is nestled along a winding road north of Alton, Illinois. Drive along the Great River Road with the Mississippi River on one side and soaring limestone bluffs on the other. The bluffs, noted in the journals of 17th-century explorers Marquette and Joliet, sheltered the fierce Piasa Bird of Native American legend. Just north of Alton, you’ll find an image of the serpent-like bird painted on the limestone cliffs. Enjoy antique hunting in Alton and charming Grafton to the north. Picnic beside the river, bike on the trail under the bluffs or explore the grounds of Pere Marquette State Park and its classic log lodge.

Cross the Mississippi or Illinois rivers on one of four ferries at Kampsville, Grafton, Brussels and Winfield or stop in the Center for American Archeology in Kampsville to learn more about the region’s prehistoric heritage. On the way back to St. Louis, visit the Argosy Casino Alton or stop in the National Great Rivers Museum at the Melvin Price Locks and Dam. Learn about the Corps of Discovery at the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site in Hartford, Illinois, located at the site of the explorers’ Camp Dubois.

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