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  1. Default Great River Road

    I am planning on following the Great River Road from Lake Itasca all the way down to Venice LA. Has anyone done this? I am wondering how long it will take. I have a plan for about 6 days driving (this includes the drive from Regina, SK. Canada). I have no idea of speed limits along the road, how many campgrounds there are along the way, if I should book sites. Safety (I am a 20something Female and I will be traveling alone). What about things to see along the way, or things to avoid. I want to be as flexable as possible, but I also don't want a whole lot of frustration over booked up campsites, or overpriced hotels, etc. I have purchased the book "Road Trip USA" by Jamie Jensen (great book by the way), but I'm looking for some personal anecdotes. Any ideas/help would be greatly appreciated!!

    Oh, and I haven't decided when to go....any views on when is the best time?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Should be an adventure!

    The first thing to know about "The Great River Road" is that's mostly a concept. With limited exception there is no one route that constitutes the Great River Road. It's very easy to lose track of the actual route, and you pretty much have to adopt the notion that if you're within 15 miles of the river, you must be on the right road! It's a hilarious road to follow -- several of our correspondents, including myself, have tried to follow it over the years. I'll be back in a few minutes -- have to address some management issues first....

    Mark

  3. Default

    Ya the book I have points out that the "road" is many different roads, but it has some maps that make it look, at least in theory, doable. I travel a lot in Canada, and am good with random roads, but I have not traveled in the states....and I don't want to get hopelessly lost (but a bit always makes for a good story)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default not all

    I certainly haven't driven the entire route, but I have driven large chunks of it. Mark is very much right, that it is a patchwork of different routes, ranging in everything from Interstate Highways to County Roads. The Green signs should keep you on the track, but it is easy to get lost/lose track of the route, especially when you get into urban areas. Speed limits will be all over the place too, but for the most part, you'll probably be looking at 55 mph roads, with lots of stops and slow downs for towns along the way.

    I'd say 6 days will be ok for a one way trip, keeping in mind, you are a full days drive from the start. That will leave you 5 days to make the trip, which is roughly 1500 miles. 300 miles a day isn't usually a lot to cover, but when you factor in the slow going nature of this kind of trip, that's going to keep your days quite full. Now if you were hoping to do the whole thing an make it back to Canada in those 6 days, then you'd be quite a long ways from what is feasable.

    Campsites should not be too hard to find. I know of lots of parks and other places right along the river that offer camping. If you do a little research in advance and find the smaller parks, like County Campgrounds or Army Corp of Engineer sites, you shouldn't have problems finding a place to camp, even on weekends.

  5. Default

    Yes, the 6days will be one way. I am actually going to Jacksonville (fl) to visit family, but I figured it would be a interesting drive, so if I need to I can tack on a day (or two). Day one will be getting to the headwaters, camping there.....and ya the days will be long, but I'm more of a driver/looker than a tourist trap kind of person (although there are a few places I will definitely stop. So you don't think it's necessary to book campsites in advance? I don't really want to, because I'm not totally sure when I will be stopping each day. I have a general framework, but if I find something great one day to do, then I want to be able to do it, not move on because I have to be somewhere. Any specific highlights you'd recommend? Are there any areas that are not so great/should be avoided?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default GRR Highlights

    There are, of course, many highlights along the Great River Road. Just a few of the towns that I've enjoyed poking around in as I've driven bits and pieces of it include Keokuk, IA; Nauvoo, IL; Hannibal and Ste. Genevieve, MO; Vicksburg and Natchez, MS; and Baton Rouge and New Orleans, LA. Also be sure to take a couple of ferry rides on your journey to listen to and smell the river.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default a couple favorites

    The river road was the subject of a thread a couple years ago, where I listed several of my favorite stops. Those ideas should keep you quite busy for the first day or two or your trip. I haven't traveled the road much south of St. Louis, so I'm not much help beyond that.

    Camping, again, if you do your research, you should do alright. Weekdays should be easy, but several campgrounds, especially at popular places like state parks, will fill up on weekends. However, there are enough small places that you should be able to find a campground and make your trip without making reservations.

  8. Default

    Awesome, thanks so much. I also found a great link on the "easy campin..." thread which I think will help with the camping situation. I just have one more question. It's stupid, and I'm embarrassed to asked, but I have to otherwise I can't stop thinking about it. What about the south....and by south I mean Louisiana and Mississippi. As a northerner who enjoys her share of horror movies, I'm wondering if they are safe places to travel around. I know it's a stupid question, and I don't want to offend anyone, I just need someone to say how stupid it is and then I'll sleep easy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default The simple answer

    Yes, all of those places are somebody's home town and are at least as safe as your own home town.

    Mark

  10. Default

    Thanks, that's all I needed. Thanks for everyone's ideas, I'm super pumped, and glad to have this resource while I'm on the road! If anyone has more tips or ideas, keep'em coming!

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