Wisconsin Great River Road

Wisconsin's Only National Scenic Byway!  Voted "Prettiest Drive: Ultimate Summer Road Trip In The United States" by readers of the Huffington Post.  The Wisconsin Great River Road is 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 familiar pilot’s wheel symbol denotes which roads are part of the designated route.

Established in 1938 from existing local roads, auto tours & state trunk roads along the Mississippi River, the Wisconsin Great River Road is over 75 years old.  Today most of this route is Wisconsin State Highway 35.

Nationally this collection of roads run 3000 miles from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. In Wisconsin the Great River Road connects 33 historic river town communities along the Mississippi River with beautiful river and bluff views ... offering some of the best viewing along the entire Road system. 

The Wisconsin Great River Road is designated as a National Scenic Byway. This federal designation recognizes the Great River Road’s outstanding assets in the areas of culture, history, nature, recreation and scenic beauty.  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 the Mississippi River Region.

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Latitude: 42.515271 Longitude: -90.630482 Elevation: 722 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Katherine Goodman

Length of Scenic Drive

250 miles

Driving Directions

NORTHERN GATEWAY: Prescott, Wisconsin where Wisconsin State Highway 35 (Wisconsin Great River Road) intersects with US Highway 10

CENTRAL GATEWAY: La Crosse, Wisconsin where Wisconsin State Highway 35 (Wisconsin Great River Road) intersects with Interstate 90

SOUTHERN GATEWAY: Kieler, Wisconsin where Wisconsin State Highway 35 (Wisconsin Great River Road) intersects with US Highway 61

Highlights and Key Points Along the Route

Running between the Mississippi River and many 500 foot bluffs, the Wisconsin Great River Road was designated a National Scenic Byway in 2000. 

33 Historic River Towns follow this route, including Prairie du Chien the second oldest community in Wisconsin

1 Historic Car Ferry in Cassville, Wisconsin offers the traveler a water crossing from Wisconsin to Turkey River in Iowa

2 National Wildlife Refuges (Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge and the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge) can be found along the Wisconsin Great River Road.  Both of these refuges have been named by RAMSAR as "Wetlands Of International Importance".

6 Locks and Dams (part of the Upper Mississippi River) can be viewed from the Wisconsin Great River Road.  In Alma, Wisconsin and Trempealeau, Wisconsin you have easy access for lock & dam viewing.

7 Great River Road Interpretive Centers from Prescott to Potosi bring educational and informative opportunities to learn about the history and culture of the region

5 State Parks and dozens of State Natural Areas provide access to the natural landscapes, backwaters and iconic views

5 Wisconsin State Trails (bike & pedestrian), many of them "Rail to Trail", offer biking opportunities along the Mississippi, La Crosse, Buffalo & Chippewa River

9 Mississippi River Bridges provide the traveler an opportunity to get diverse views of the Mississippi River and connect Wisconsin with the states of Minnesota and Iowa

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