view of the mississippi river valley from effigy mounds national park
Scenic View of Mississippi River Valley from Effigy Mounds National Monument

Travel Guide – Upper Mississippi Great River Road


The Most Scenic Section of the Great River Road

We’ve traveled along the Mississippi River Road Scenic Drive from New Orleans to Hastings, Minnesota and believe the most impressive portion is the Upper Mississippi sections of the Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota Great River Roads. That is because from the Iowa-Illinois Quad Cities to Red Wing Minnesota, the Mississippi River cuts through the glacial Driftless Area in  Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Northern Iowa and Illinois. The region is characterized by deeply carved river valleys and steep-sided wooded bluffs reaching as high as 600 feet above the river. Historic river towns dot the winding roads on both sides of the Mississippi River that have been designated as National Scenic Highways. Learn more about this unique landscape here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driftless_Area.

Another feature that makes this section of the Great River Road more distinctive is you are often actually running alongside the Mississippi whereas further south you often don’t see the river from the actual “Great River Road.”

Fall Scenic View Wisconsin Mississippi River Road
Towering Palisades are typical sights along the Upper Mississippi River Road

Best Wisconsin Campgrounds Along the Great River Road
Dubuque, Iowa to Prescott, WI


Mississippi River Maiden Rock
A little North of Maiden Rock looking south across the river.

Below is a list of all the travel articles we’ve posted on interesting places and things to see and do in the communities along the Upper Mississippi Great River Roads. Below that is our Google Map and Link identifying travel routes and point of interest along these routes.

Upper Mississippi Great River Road Articles

I’ve divided up travel attractions along the River Road into several separate articles.


historic potosi brewery
Historic 1852 Potosi Brewery has an interesting Brewery Museum, a comfortable Pub and Brewhouse, and great food and drink.

Some Travel Attractions along the Upper Mississippi River Road

Here’s some interesting particular points of interest, things to see and do along the Upper Mississippi Great River Road

Campground Reviews

Here are some individual reviews plus a page of reviews of all the best campgrounds on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi

Mississippi Great River Road Maps

Section Maps (click on image for larger view)

River Road from Quad Cities to Thomson, Illinois.
River Road Scenic Drive Map
Mississippi River Road from Savannah, Illinois to Galena to Dubuque.
Great River Road from McGregor, Iowa to La Crosse, Wisconsin.
River Road Map from Winona to Red Wing, along the Wisconsin Great River Road.
Great River Road scenic drive day trip from Red Wing, MN to Wabasha.

Interactive Google Map of River Road Scenic Drive from ILL-IOWA Quad Cities to Red Wing, MN

Click on map to see Interactive Google Map