The Great River Road

Old Man River, Father of Waters, “body of a nation,” Big Muddy—by any name the mighty Mississippi cuts a mythic figure across the American landscape.

Navigating the Great River Road

The Great River Road (or GRR) is identified on signs by a green pilot’s wheel with a steamboat pictured in the middle. Quality and quantity of route markers vary considerably from state to state; some states, like Minnesota and Illinois, are well marked, with advance warning of junctions and confirmation after turns, while other states, like Louisiana and Mississippi, seem committed to hiding GRR signs miles from where they would serve any conceivable good. Adding to the confusion are the many variations—signposted as Alternate or State Route—and spurs, denoted by a brown pilot’s wheel, which lead off the GRR to various points of interest.

Though most people will be able to find their way along the riverside without too many dead-ends, trying to travel the length of the GRR just by following the signs is not recommended for perfectionists; part of the fun is getting slightly lost and making your own way. To ease your journey, get a detailed map of the entire GRR, along with a guide to local happenings in each of the states along the route, from the Mississippi River Parkway Commission.


Great River Road