For most of the nearly 60 miles between La Crosse and Prairie du Chien, the GRR (Hwy-35) is again confined to the margin between the tall gray and yellow bluffs and the impressively wide lakelike Mississippi. At times the roadway is so narrow that the few houses have to climb three stories up the irregular wooded slopes, while the railroad tracks on the right are suspended over the water on viaducts. About halfway along, there’s a maze of small islands around the mouth of the Bad Axe River, with the occasional blue heron poised like a Giacometti sculpture in alga-covered sloughs. Dotting the curves alongside the road are a series of historical markers old enough to be artifacts themselves; most are related to the tragic Black Hawk War of 1832.

Midway along this scenic stretch of highway, 31 miles north of Prairie du Chien between the riverside hamlets of De Soto and Genoa, the Great River Roadhouse (9660 Hwy-35, 608/648-2045) is a great place to stop and stretch your legs—and your stomach, feasting on the broasted chickens, good pizza, roasted ribs, pasta, Friday night fish fry, and constant cold beers.