The Great River Road runs along the shore of the Mississippi River.

Great River Road

Experience some of the region’s most dramatic scenery along the Great River Road.

The winding road takes day trippers north of Alton, Illinois, with the Mighty Mississippi on one side and soaring limestone bluffs on the other. The bluffs, noted in the journals of 17th-century explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis 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.

As you make your way along the Great River Road, enjoy a picnic beside the river, stretch your legs in Pere Marquette State Park or hunt for antiques in Alton and Grafton.

Adventure seekers can cross the Mississippi or Illinois rivers on a ferry at Kampsville, Grafton, Brussels and Winfield, while history buffs can stop in the Center for American Archeology in Kampsville to learn about the region’s prehistoric heritage.

On the way back to St. Louis, visit the National Great Rivers Museum. Housed in a 12,000-square-foot facility adjacent to Melvin Price Locks and Dam, the museum introduces people to the great rivers in the area, their unique environments, their roles in our history and their impact on our lives today. You can do a self-guided tour, but the daily tours led by staff members are more exciting for all ages. Available at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., the tours take 45 minutes, and they allow you to experience the locks and dam from the view of a lockman.