The Great River Road Scenic Highway is quest #9 of 300 of the National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways and Byways. It starts out in Prescott, WI and ends at the Illinois state line by Dubuque, Iowa 249 miles away.
When I was in Minnesota, several people mentioned the Great River Road scenic highway as an all time favorite of the locals since it's easily a day trip, cute little cafes and restaurants dotted along the US 35, and – might I say – well maintained roads.
The roads in Minnesota were awful. Pitted with pot holes, repairs gone bad, bumps, divets, and holes so big you might have thought it was a sink hole about to swallow you up.
Okay, maybe that was a tiny bit exaggerated, but seriously there were some huge holes that had I hit, I'm sure my RV tires would have blown. Thankfully I escaped unharmed.
Why can't the locate the free wine tasting next to the campgrounds or Walmarts? Now that would be great!
Great River Road Happenings
Parts of the highway reminded me of my time in the Pacific Northwest in Mount Vernon, Washington, with beautiful trees and farm land expanding across the land and hills.
There was a vineyard along the way that advertised free wine tasting. While I would have loved to partake of the free wine tasting, I was driving and still needed to keep heading south for my overnight at Walmart in La Crosse, WI.
The Mississippi River and lakes fed by the river were definitely different from what I'm accustomed to with its brown, muddy water.
Nevertheless, it's an impressive body of water with locks built by the Army Core of Engineers, sailboats, and fishing boats enjoying the cool summer breeze.
I stopped at Buena Vista City Park up on a cliff which overlooks the Mississippi River, the locks and outlying lands to the west of the Mississippi. It's such a peaceful site with picnic tables, massive trees to provide shade, grass for the dogs to run in, and the breathtaking beauty.
Being out here amongst these lands and overlooking the water, small islands, and trees as far as your eye can see, makes me envision what it was like to have lived before cars, motorcycles, and RVs.
To have walked these lands, sailed by boat, or ridden in a horse-drawn carriage, must have been even more breathtaking with so much of the land untouched.
Ever since I started my adventure, I keep learning more and more about our rich history. History that's not in the history books, but history small and large, created in small towns and beautiful country sides that provides meaning to that area.
La Crosse to Ferryville was quite interesting and I kept having to remind myself that I was in Wisconsin. It reminded me more of the lush, wild vegetation of Florida with marshy lands.
Even Lily was enjoying her walks amongst this historic road and was a little tired by the end of the day.
Traveling south down the Great River Road you'll see railroad tracks to the right then the Mississippi River; however just between Great River Road and the railroad tracks are homes built several tiers high.
I can't imagine what it must be like to live right next to the railroad tracks and hear the sound of the trains passing through. Maybe you get accustomed to it?
Weird Names on the Great River Road
The vibe of these towns is artsy and vivacious with quick-witted names for saloons, bars, and eateries like Safe House Saloon, Wooden Nickel Saloon, Moka Coffee, Nauti Hawg, and Jailhouse Saloon. There's lots of little places to stop and shop and eat and is a haven amongst motorcyclists'.
One thing I kept seeing was “supper clubs”.
What's a supper club?
So I looked it up and discovered that it's a restaurant and a social club in one and seems to be more of a Midwest establishment. Though I also discovered that supper clubs can be restaurants that lean towards local, sustainable, and organic foods.
I ended the route at the border of Wisconsin and Illinois and moved right into the next quest of Lincoln Highway scenic route.
Have you traveled the Great River Road? Ever been to a supper club? Leave me a comment below and tell me all about it.
Overnights & Places Visited
Place: Buena Vista City Park and Overnighted at Walmart
RV Accessibility: Any length is okay. The park has spaces for trucks/RVs
Cell Phone Signal Strength: Varied from 2-4 bars
Park Pass: N/A
City/State: Overnighted in La Crosse, Wisconsin
Video/Audio Equipment Used
Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging
Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video
Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.