In sheer size and importance, the Mississippi River has few equals. Hundreds of years ago, Native Americans used it for trade and travel, with the Hopewell Indian culture becoming the most advanced society in early North America. The French sent trappers down its banks after coveted beaver fur. For years, it served as the western boundary of America, providing the next western frontier as the United States acquired new lands. Western settlements expanded along the river, with their rugged pioneers doing their best to tame the mighty river country.
oday, the Great River Road National Scenic Byway incorporates riverside roads in six of the ten states that border the Mississippi: Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. From the river's beginning in the lakes of Minnesota down to the historic Vicksburg region of Mississippi, the natural beauty and cultural heritage along the Great River Road is as varied as the regions it passes through.
Visitors can explore the Hopewell Mounds that line the Mississippi through several states, visit river towns unchanged since the 18th Century, and participate in interactive museums that display life along the Mississippi from past to present.