• St. Louis, Missouri to Keokuk, Iowa

      200 miles, 6-8 hours

      St. Louis, Missouri, is a great city to visit, and its location along the Mississippi River makes it a great hub for river road routes. On this adventure road, you can find a historic bridge from Route 66, a very special high water mark, a row of Victorian-era houses, the boyhood home of Mark Twain, and a famous lover's leap. Oh, and a really, really, cool arch...

      St. Louis, Missouri (starting point)
      It would be silly to visit St. Louis without taking the time to visit the Gateway Arch. Be sure to watch the movie presentation in the visitor's center -- pretty incredible movie footage of joining the arch's halves. The ride to the top of the arch in special elevators is memorable as well.

      Chain of Rocks Bridge (mile 13)
      These days the Chain of Rocks Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that spans the Mississippi River. The Missouri side is on the northern edge of St. Louis, while the Illinois side is near Madison, IL. The bridge use to be part of Route 66.

      Clarksville (mile 86)
      A small monument in Clarksville marks where the Mississippi River crested during the great flood of 1973. Clarksville is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

      Louisiana (mile 96)
      Louisiana is full of outstanding murals and old buildings. According to the State Department of Natural Resources Louisiana is "the most intact Victorian streetscape in the state of Missouri."

      Ilasco (mile 124)
      Ilasco was founded in 1903. It became the hometown of the Atlas Cement Plant. Ilasco is an acronym for the ingredients of concrete - iron, lead, aluminum, silicon, calcium, oxygen. Stop and visit the Ilasco Jail, which was constructed out of (what else?) concrete in 1909 and remained in use until 1935.

      Lovers Leap (mile 127)
      It's a short drive up to Lovers Leap to see excellent views of the Mississippi River. Lovers Leap is just south of Hannibal.

      Hannibal (mile 128)
      Hannibal is the boyhood home of Mark Twain and it is a popular spot for tourists. Take a short hike up Cardiff Hill to get a great view of Hannibal and the Mississippi River.

      Keokuk, Iowa (mile 200)
      Keokuk is located along the Mississippi River in the extreme southeast corner of Iowa.The seventy-two mile drive from Hannibal to Keokuk is on historic US Highway 61. Tippenbud's is a great place to eat when visiting Keokuk.

      Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri

      Comments 2 Comments
      1. AZBuck's Avatar
        AZBuck -
        Since my wife is from St. Louis and my extended family is largely in Wisconsin, we have traveled this section of the Great River a few times. I heartily recommend the places Gerald has listed and have a few more. South of St. Louis is the great historic river town of Ste. Genevieve. No drive of the Great River would be compete, in my opinion, without at least one ferry ride on the river. the Calhoun Ferry Company offers a pair north of St. Louis that lets you cross over into Illinois, enjoy a bucolic back road drive north along the river, and then return to the Missouri side. Keokuk is, of course, home to the world famous Keokuk Geodes, found in river beds throughout the area, as well as a great walking tour that follows a bluff above the Mississippi past the homes built by industrialists during the town's boom years. And if you continue just a bit farther north on the Illinois side of the river, you'll come to the historic living-history town of Nauvoo.

      1. Mark Sedenquist's Avatar
        Mark Sedenquist -

        Great suggestions -- I too have driven the river road a bit, but probably not nearly as much as you have. It's a perfect venue of road trips, something new to see every time on less-busy roads.