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2018 is the 80th anniversary of the Great River Road - following the course of the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles through 10 states!  

Great River Road Fun Facts

  • You’d have to drive 36 hours straight to travel the entire length of the Great River Road
  • Minnesota has the longest portion of the Great River Road at 565 miles
  • There are more than 76 designated Great River Road interpretive centers
  • The Great River Road is one of the longest National Scenic Byways in America
  • The Great River Road runs through 119 counties and parishes across 10 states
  • Travelers spend more than $25 billion each year in the communities along the Great River Road
  • The Great River Road runs on both sides of the river, except between Hastings, Minnesota and the byway’s northern terminus
  • It takes 90 days for a drop of water to travel the entire length of the Mississippi River
  • The Great River Road was created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1938
  • The Great River Road town of Hannibal, Missouri, is the hometown of famed author Mark Twain
  • Tourism along the Great River Road supports more than 450,000 jobs
  • Two-thirds of Wisconsin’s Great River Road passes along or through protected natural areas
  • Some of the oak trees along Louisiana’s Great River Road are more than 300 years old
  • Illinois’s Great River Road is home to the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers
  • The Great River Road is located along the Mississippi Flyway, the migration route followed by 40 percent of North America’s waterfowl and shorebirds
  • You will find 25 locks and dams on the Mississippi River between Minnesota and Missouri on the northern section of the Great River Road
  • The Mississippi River—and the Great River Road—actually head north from their source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota before arriving at Bemidji (“the first city on the Mississippi”) and heading south to the Gulf of Mexico
  • The Great River Road passes through dozens of county and state parks, as well as several National Park Service locations, including the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area (Minnesota), Effigy Mounds National Monument (Iowa), the Gateway Arch and Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Missouri) and Vicksburg National Military Park (Mississippi)

Minnesota's Great River Road is a network of roadways offering a bounty of river experiences in a parkway setting. It spans 565 miles, 43 communities, 20 counties, three tribes and six unique destination areas, providing public access to and promoting America's Great River. Whether planning for an afternoon, weekend or all out vacation, the Great River Road has something for you.  

Where to start??

Minnesota's National Great River Road Interpretive Centers have been specially designated for their remarkable presentation of Mississippi River stories. Here's a list - visit one, or several as part of your Mississippi River adventure...

Downloadable Brochures and Maps

Join us!

For more information on how to participate in Great River Road projects and activities, click here

News & Events

Memorial Day at Historic Fort Snelling, May 26 - 28 (5/18/18)
Art-A-Whirl, NE Minneapolis, May 18 - 20 (5/10/18)
Festival of Nations - Saint Paul RiverCentre, May 3 - 6 (4/25/18)
Saint Paul Art Crawl, April 27 - 29 (4/19/18)
A Taste of Wabasha - National Eagle Center, April 21 (4/19/18)
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Opening Music: "Take A Look" by Charlie McGuire. Used, gratefully, with permission by the National Park Service National Mississippi River & Recreation Area. Click here to listen to "Take a Look" in its entirety and to hear other great river tunes.
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