Great River Road in Kentucky National Scenic Byway

The National Route of the Great River Road provides a continuous roadway parallel to the Mississippi River from the river’s headwaters in Minnesota’s Lake Itasca to the delta in the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River is one of the world’s premier natural attractions. It is the largest river in North America and with it’s major tributaries – the Missouri and the Ohio rivers – it boasts an immense watershed spreading south of the Great Lakes from the Rocky Mountains in the west to the Appalachians in the east, covering nearly one-third of the continent and most of the interior of the United States.

Kentucky Great River Road National Scenic Byway joins nine Mississippi River states in a single continuous route with common strategies of marketing and enhancing the corridor’s intrinsic resources and coordinating visitors experiences. The Kentucky experience includes counties of Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman, and Fulton, marking the entire-western border of the Mississippi River at the confluence of the Ohio River across from Illinois to the Tennessee state line for approximately 60 miles though Kentucky.


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Latitude: 36.989081 Longitude: -89.15116
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KY GreatRiverRoad


Length of Scenic Drive

60 miles

Driving Directions

Skipping from the banks of the Ohio River near Fort Defiance State Park in Cairo, Illinois, the Kentucky Great River Road stays mostly with US-51 southbound through small communities, meandering 60 miles parallel to the Mississippi River with amazing views and overlooks, through wooded country along the Mississippi River Trails of Kentucky, traveling within only a dozen miles from the Tennessee line near the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge.

Highlights and Key Points Along the Route

"In much of America, corporate chain stores and sprawling shopping malls have given populated areas a homogenous look and feel. We know the buildings, the food and the inventory all too well. But less-traveled communities of the Kentucky Great River Road Region have been largely unaffected by that. And that’s a good thing if you want to shop for real treasures for items you won’t find almost anywhere else.  There’s an abundance of boutiques and gift shops with eclectic merchandise, and you’ll sometimes find local arts and crafts, flower arrangements, jewelry and distinctive clothing all in the same shop!' says Dave Shuffett 

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