Great River Road

Discussion in 'GPS Tracks - Central, Texas & Gulf States' started by ajayhawkfan, May 6, 2007.

  1. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    This summer I hope to ride the Great River Road (Mississippi River) from St. Louis to the headwaters. Is there a route available that can be downloaded?
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  2. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    I'd like to run the river roads, too, both sides of the river.
    From what I've read on the Internet, there will be a large river to my left or right, depending on the route, of course.
    Like Forrest, I'm not a smart person, but do think that I can ride these routes without getting too badly lost.
    #2
  3. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    I guess I needed to be clearer. I looking for a gravel route along the river.
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  4. dirty_sanchez

    dirty_sanchez Dirty_Sanchez

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    Forest would make a great NASCAR driver.

    Hurry up, turn left.

    Hurry up everyone, ok, turn left again.

    Repeat if neccessary.

    Jayhawk- PM me for some tracks and great river road roads for the east and west banks from Natchez, MS to the Gulf.

    I've been wanting to do the very same sort of ride.

    Dirty
    #4
  5. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    States that promote River Road Routes will have them listed on their tourism websites. Google is your bestest friend...:D

    Only some of those routes involve dirt/gravel. These routes originated for tourism purposes, or that's what was sold to their respective legislatures...

    There are places you can get on the levees, eveen closer to the river than that designated route.

    Most states still have old paper maps that clearly show the various roads, both dirt and paved.

    Lefty Lucy....:D
    #5
  6. MrBob

    MrBob In the makeout room. Supporter

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    I've ridden from the headwaters in MN to Hannibal, MO and the only gravel road I recall was in northern Iowa. Just the same, there are plenty of great roads along the way. You'll be glad you took this ride. Get an atlas for each state and look for the out of the way roads there, or if you're a cheap bastard like me go to Borders and copy the routes out their copies. In Wisconsin look for the "alphabet roads" - county roads designated with letters. There is a great ice cream shop in Alma, WI and look for the sign leading you to the overlook where you can see for miles up and down the valley. In Minnesota you will likely be on Hwy. 61 but towns like Winona and Red Wing are still very charming.
    Feel free to PM me with questions, I've traveled these roads for 35 years and still find new stuff.
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  7. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Good post.
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  8. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    If you're looking for the Great River Road, you're going to find very little in the way of gravel or dirt. As already pointed out, the Great River Road was made for tourism... RVers and the like. RVers don't like gravel. In '02 I drove from the headwaters to Venice, LA following the Great River Road as much as I could (in a Corvette) (in some places, the GRR follows both the east and west banks of the Mississippi). The only marked gravel section I can recall was in Northern Minnesota. Many parts of the GRR route onto limited access highways or are other major roadways.

    If I were to make the drive/ride again, I would mostly ignore the posted Great River Road signs, and simply follow an atlas or Delorme and take the roads that look most interesting.

    If you want gravel, you might look into riding the levees of the lower river. I know around here (southern TN/northern MS) much of the levee is legally drivable (in the daytime). The levee is only part of the Great River Road system for a few short sections.

    Jamie
    #8
  9. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    Thanks for all the advice. I am going to take this trip the first week in July.
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  10. selkins

    selkins Gotta light?

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    Hey there, ajayhawkfan. I attempted to follow the River Rd from Winona MN to New Orleans last September . I'm not a GPS fan, so no downloadable routing for you, sorry.

    I found that much of the River Rd is spottily sign posted, and some states are simply big gaps in the map. Unfortunately for you, it gets worse as you go south (in my experience). I followed the route as best I could, mostly on the east side of the river, but by Kentucky the signs were so poorly posted I got pretty lost (in a good way), and wound up cutting down to Oxford MS and then down to the Natchez Trace. As I recollect, the road was posted again in Natchez, but I chose a different route to NOLA at that point. The Natchez Trace is great, btw, and if you want to take a bit of a detour on the way home, I'd choose that one for a bit of the distance.

    If you head NORTH from St. Louis you'll have better luck with the River Road. It's well posted in IA, IL, WI and MN with just a few tricky spots. Also, frankly, the river is more scenic in that direction, with bluffs, twisties, and generally more riding interest. South of St Louis the river is wide, slow moving and generally goes through flattish country particularly once you get into MS.

    All of that is by way of saying that I agree with the earlier poster - take your time, chart your own path near the river, and respond back with what you find on Ride Reports.

    Have fun!
    #10
  11. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    I have driven parts of the river road between New Orleans and St. Paul at one time or another however, this trip will be the first one on my bike.

    I think the advice everyone is giving about following the river and not the posted road make the most sense. I will not be on a schedule so I can take my time and explore any interesting looking roads and river towns.

    This will be my first bike trip that is longer then a weekend. I am really looking forward to it!
    #11
  12. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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  13. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    When in the South, you're gonna sweat like a stuck pig. :D
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  14. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    Thank you! That is a wonderful report. You really got me excited.
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  15. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    That is why I am going to go North to MN not South to the gulf.
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  16. Bernie Echt

    Bernie Echt Adventurer

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    I may see you on your ride. I am heading up to Duluth, MN. the first week of July and I am also trying to follow along the river north of Paducah, KY.
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  17. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    I am going to be in Grafton, IL on June 29 staying at the Ruebel Hotel.
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  18. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    I can help you with a route from LaCresent Minnesota to Dubuque Iowa that is mostly gravel and somewhat follows the Great River road. pm me for details
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  19. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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  20. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    Thanks for the tracks. I'm leaving tomorrow.
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