April 14, 2010

A Real Road Trip

The old-fashioned family road trip is alive and well along the Wisconsin Great River Road 

La Crosse QueenIf you’re looking for a great road trip—one full of beautiful scenes, interesting people and places and lots of opportunities for memorable experiences—look no further than the Wisconsin Great River Road National Scenic Byway.

Running for 250 miles along the Mississippi River on Wisconsin’s western border, the Wisconsin Great River Road has the distinction of being the only designated National Scenic Byway in the State of Wisconsin. And with numerous scenic overlooks, wildlife refuges, historic markers and unique river towns, it is arguable the best drive in the Midwest.

What sets the Wisconsin Great River Road apart from other byways is the fact that the Mississippi River is a working waterway, full of boat and barge traffic. At viewing stations located in Alma, Fountain City, Trempealeau, Genoa and Lynxville, you can watch riverboats pushing barges through the enormous locks. And on the rail lines running along the river, almost 100 trains a day pass through the river corridor, carrying miles of cars loaded with freight.

View from Hanging RockEach of the 33 river towns are linked by the Wisconsin Great River Road could be destinations in their own right. Places like Potosi, Prairie du Chien, Onalaska, La Crosse and Pepin were home to some of the earliest European settlers in the area. Historic sites include Stonefield in Cassville, Villa Louis in Prairie du Chien and the Freedom Park Great River Road Interpretive Center in Prescott.

A dozen scenic overlooks provide some great views of the river and the surrounding countryside. And all along the way, you’ll stumble on historic markers, interesting shops, one-of-a-kind museums and excellent trails.

The Wisconsin Great River Road journey can take between two days and one week, depending on how much you want to explore.

An audio tour is available for the entire route 250-mile route. It’s a great way to really connect with what you’re seeing as you drive. Learn more about the Wisconsin Great River Road and download the free audio tour at www.wigreatriverroad.org.

Get the latest articles

Learn about the best things see and do in Wisconsin right now! Provide your email address below to sign up for the FREE Wisconsin Travel Best Bets e-newsletter.