Explore the communities along the Great River Road.
Begin your journey on Iowa's Great River Road near the town of New Albin and drive south through forests and farmland to Lansing. This old river town gives access to Mt. Hosmer Park, a panoramic view of the Mississippi Valley and the tri-state area. Next, explore Yellow River State Forest - 9,000 acres of public hunting, hiking and fishing. Visitors also have access to 3,000 acres of Mississippi River backwater areas. Visit Iowa's only National Monument - Effigy Mounds - at the southern edge of Allamakee County.
Continue south to Marquette and McGregor with their charming historic homes and businesses, including several antique shops. Enjoy Pikes Peak State Park overlooking the Mississippi, where explorers Marquette and Joliet landed. The road, with bike path, now winds through magnificent bluffs and valleys to Guttenberg, the home of German stone buildings restored as restaurants and a riverfront inn. Visit the Lockmaster's House Heritage Museum along the mile-long riverfront park and walkway. En route is the historic fishing village, Clayton.
Don't miss the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, Dubuque Arboretum, Mines of Spain Recreation Area, the Field of Dreams and the National Farm Toy Museum. Ride the Fenelon Place Elevator and tour Crystal Lake Cave.
Visit St. Donatus, founded by skilled stone masons from Luxembourg. Then discover Bellevue with a beautiful riverfront park extending the full length of town. Watch towboats "locking through" the river and eagles feeding below the dam. Experience jazz and Southern cooking at Flatted Fifth Blues & BBQ, located in a restored grist mill. Other sites include a historical museum and Bellevue State Park with its limestone cliffs and renowned butterfly garden. Or experience nature hands-on at the Hurstville Lime Kilns Interpretive Center.
Where the Great River Road meets the Lincoln Highway (U.S. Hwy. 30). Stop at Clinton's Riverview Park for an incredible view. View the widest point on the Upper Mississippi River from Eagle Point Park. The Bickelhaupt Arboretum, the Felix Adler Children's Discovery Center, Clinton County Historical Society Museum and The Sawmill Museum are all open for tours. The Mississippi River Eco Tourism Center is south of Camanche in Rock Creek Park.
Visit the Putnam Museum, the Bettendorf Family Museum and the Buffalo Bill Museum. Take a cruise on the Channel Cat Water Taxi, Celebration Belle or Riverboat Twilight. Enjoy festivals - Bix Beiderbecke weekend with the Bix 7 and Junior Bix 7 road races, Jazz festival and street fair, Mississippi Valley Blues, Quad City Festival of Trees and Beaux Arts Fair. Shop at historic Village of East Davenport with quaint antique boutiques and two major shopping malls.
Active and diverse, Muscatine is a community tucked between two river bluffs and filled with surprises. Experience first-rate recreational facilities like Wildcat Den State Park, Shady Creek and Fairport Fish Hatchery. The renowned Muscatine Art Center and the History and Industry Center offer a glimpse of Muscatine's rich history. Don't forget to stroll along the streets of the historic downtown business district and visit unique retail shops.
Three rivers come together in Louisa County - it's where the Iowa and Cedar Rivers meet the Mississippi. Naturally, the area is characterized by broad floodplains containing many wetland and marsh areas, including the Mark Twain Wildlife Refuge. The adjacent wooded bluffs were favorite sites for Native Americans because of the abundance of nearby forage, fish, wildlife and waterfowl. Toolesboro has a series of Indian mounds and a visitors center.
Des Moines County
Start your tour of historic Burlington at the Port of Burlington Welcome Center near the Great River Bridge. Walk past the site of the First Iowa Territorial Capitol to the charming West Jefferson Street Historic District. Tour the nearby Heritage Hill Historic District with its grand homes, including the Phelps House, one of three Des Moines County Historical Society Museums. Don't miss a trip down the famous Snake Alley or the beautiful parks with stunning views of the Mississippi.
History lives on by way of authentically-dressed historic interpreters at Old Fort Madison, an accurate reconstruction of the first military fort on the upper Mississippi. Sharing the beautiful Riverview Park with the Fort, you'll also find Santa Fe Engine 2913 and the Santa Fe Depot Historic Center. Finally, view the world's largest double-decker swing span bridge, watching it open and close to allow barge traffic through and count the nearly 100 trains that cross daily.
Mississippi River Parkway Commission