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The Great River Road

The Great River Road National Scenic Byway follows the course of the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The scenic route passes through 10 states and hundreds of river towns. The Road is, however, not just a single thoroughfare, but rather a well-marked series of different roads and highways that roughly follow the winding course of the Mississippi River. All along the Great River Road, travelers will find white signs displaying the green pilot’s wheel logo — the symbol that denotes which roads are part of the designated route. It takes about 36 hours of straight driving to travel from north to south along the byway. Most people take four to 10 days to make the journey.

Arguably the longest and most important scenic byway in America, the Great River Road enters Arkansas just north of Blytheville. It continues, crossing America’s Delta region. The rich soil is planted with soybeans, rice, cotton and wheat. In some places, huge expanses of cropland stretch out for miles. The long history of the region is revealed at the Hampson Archeological Museum State Park and the Parkin Archeological State Park. The Delta Cultural Center in historic downtown Helena tells the story of the Arkansas Delta, particularly the history of the blues.

One of the most interesting geological features of the region is Crowley’s Ridge, which rises to 200 feet above the broad, flat land of the Delta. The Great River Road runs atop Crowley’s Ridge as it passes through the St. Francis National Forest. The wetlands that once characterized the Arkansas Delta are revealed at the White River National Wildlife Refuge. This vast complex of bottomland hardwood forest includes more than 300 lakes, streams and sloughs, attracting millions of migratory birds each year.

The entire river route has been selected for its natural, cultural, historical, recreational and scenic properties and its federal designation as a National Scenic Byway recognizes the these outstanding assets. All along the Great River Road National Scenic Byway, you’ll find tourism amenities as well Interpretive centers that help travelers experience the many facets of Mississippi River Region. The communities visitors encounter along the Road — from tiny riverside villages to vibrant metropolises — reflect the living history of the region through music, culture and local cuisine.

Travelers can spend a day exploring a short portion of the byway, or a week traveling through several states — or many weeks traveling the entire length of the river. It would take a lifetime to truly experience all that the Great River Road offers.

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