Activities and Features
in the Middle Mississippi River Valley
The Middle Mississippi River Valley along the Great River Road offers its visitors a myriad of activities and adventures just waiting to be explored.
Lewis & Clark in the Middle Mississippi River Valley
On November 20, 1803, Captain Meriwether Lewis wrote in his journal “Left our mouring on the Ohio side of the point at 10 OC. and after getting out well into the stream our course…” Thus Lewis and William Clark and the nucleus of what would become to be known as the Corps of Discovery began the journey into the Middle Mississippi River Valley. greatriverroad.com provides in depth coverage of the region that included what was called the Illinois Country (now the state of Illinois,) the villages of the west bank of the Mississippi, and the towns of St. Louis and St. Charles. A total of 184 days, slightly more than half a year would be spent in this region, more than any other area of the endeavor.
greatriverroad.com Art Trail
Welcome to the greatriverroad.com art trail. While researching the Great River Road area around St. Louis the editors of greatriverroad.com came across a surprisingly large number of festivals, galleries, museums, shops, and studios that involved the visual or performing arts. So much so that the decision was made to create a new section devoted to the art community of the Middle Mississippi River Valley. Most of the attractions and events on the greatriverroad.com art trail are within a few hours drive from St. Louis making an interesting way to spend an afternoon. The area covered is too large to spend exploring in one day so we suggest that you choose a region to concentrate on.
Pere Marquette State Park
Located 5 miles west of Grafton in Jersey County, Pere Marquette State Park comprises 8,050 acres making it Illinois' largest state park. The Park is famous for the beauty of its fall colors and as a home for bald eagles in the winter. In addition to the spectacular views of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers from several scenic overlooks, visitors can take advantage of a variety of year-round recreational activities, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, boating, and taking part in interpretative programs.
Bald Eagles live near large bodies of open water such as seacoasts, lakes and rivers where there are plenty of fish to eat and tall trees for roosting. There are approximately 2,000 eagles that migrate to the Middle Mississippi River Valley, making the region's overwintering population the second largest in the continental United States behind the Klamath Basin area of southern Oregon and northern California. The area's eagles come mainly from nesting territories in central Canada and the Great Lake states.
There is an abundance of visitor centers in the regions that greatriverroad.com covers where visitors can get up to date information, brochures and maps. These centers are operated by a variety of organizations ranging from state tourism departments to local Chambers of Commerces or organizations and are staffed with friendly people willing to give you the scoop about their areas.
Free Visitors Guides
There are a number of organizations that are dedicated to providing information designed to enhance the visitor's experience to the regions and communities of the Middle Mississippi River Valley. The following is a list of these organizations, what they provide, and how to order free copies of the material that they will send you.
The world of "Living History", whether a Frontier Rendezvous or a Civil War era re-enactment, has experienced an increase in popularity recently, both in the number of participants and events as well as the number of visitors attending these events. Participants take on personas and duplicate as well as possible the life these personas would have lived. Most reenactors take great care in using only exacting recreation of clothing, gear, and equipment from the past. Furthermore, many take on the role of teachers, explaining how our ancestors coped with the daily rigors of life. Visitors to these events can expect to find participants portraying fur trappers, Native Americans, craftsmen and artisans of all types, traders, soldiers, Victorian ladies, and more! The Middle Mississippi River Valley is host to a number of annual "Living History" events.
Early American ferries consisted of rafts, rowboats and horse boats that could cross rivers where demand for transportation existed but where there weren’t any easy crossings. The advent of railroads and bridges put most ferries out of business and motorized vessels replaced the earlier forms of transportation of those that survived. For modern travelers, the remaining ferries in operation can save time as well as providing scenic river views. The Middle Mississippi River Valley offers seven ferries, two of which travelers can cross free of charge. Five of these ferries are located in the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway area and the others cross the Mississippi River between Ste. Genevieve, Missouri and rural Randolph County, Illinois and southeastern Missouri and western Kentucky.