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    Start of the trail for wagons bound west and hometown of President Truman, Independence, Missouri, is well-endowed with historic attractions including covered wagon tours through the old part of town.

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    Things To Do

    Sample cultural sights in St. Louis before making your way on to Kansas City for live jazz and barbecue feasts.

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  • Map It!

Great River Road - Missouri

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214.8 miles (345 km)
5 to 6 hours depending on traffic in St. Louis.
There are no toll or byway fees. There may be fees for recreational activities or camping.


The mighty Mississippi was the lifeblood of many Missouri townsfor over a century. The Missouri Great River Road is a route withstories to tell and a history to preserve. Civil War History andthe movement west are just two of the great American stories thatthe byway has to tell.

The man who characterized the golden age of the MississippiRiver left a legacy of sites behind on the Missouri Great RiverRoad. Mark Twain's hometown of Hannibal, as well as many otherbuildings, museums, and wildlife refuges honor the memory of thisfavorite American writer.

The Missouri Great River Road tells the story of the people whocame to the Mississippi when it was still a frontier. It also tellsthe story of people who lived here before the United States becamea nation. Drive the Great River Road and find out what story itwill tell you.

Points of Interest Along The Way

Canton-Lagrange (MO)

In Canton, Lock and Dam #20 and a riverside park keep visitorsand residents at the rivers edge as they enjoy recreation and thefeatures of the Great River Road.

LaGrange was founded in 1795 as a trading post. Since then, ithas been involved in wars and the changing of the country and theMississippi River. Visitors will find a Civil War Memorial in thetown's square.


Off of US Highway 61 in Missouri.

Clarksville (MO)

Clarksville is a quaint small town along the Byway.


Off of State Road 79

Fort Defiance State Park (MO)

Once known as the "park no one wants" as labeled by the Chicago Tribune, Fort Defiance has made a miraculous recovery from neglect through the efforts of the citizens of Cairo. Fort Defiance, the Civil War post commanded by General U.S. Grant, was once a Union supply base. The southern terminus of the Illinois section of the Great River Road, Fort Defiance State Historic Site lies at the awesome confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Although they flow down the same channel, the two rivers remain separate, the Ohio blue and the Mississippi a muddy brown for several miles.


Located about 2 miles south of Cairo, Illinois, at the extreme southern tip of Illinois.

Hannibal (MO)

Hannibal, once the river town dear to Mark Twain, is now aperfect stop of the Great River Road for discovering more aboutlife along the Mississippi River. Visitors will have theopportunity to explore Mark Twain Cave and enjoy recreationalopportunities as Mark Twain State Park. The historic district oftown recreates the past and visitors will be able to get a look atHannibal's Rockcliffe Mansion.


Off of US 24/61 in Missouri

Imperial (MO)

Preserving history has been a large part of Imperial's heritage.Just outside of the town, visitors will find the Mastodon StateHistoric Site an the Sandy Creek Covered Bridge State HistoricSite.

At the 425 acre Mastadon site, visitors can learn more about the19th century excavations of Ice-Age mastadons and woolymammoths.

The historic bridge at Sandy Creek Covered Bridge State HistoricSite was built after the Civil War in 1872. When the bridge waswashed away by a flood in 1886, it was rebuilt the next year.


Off of US 61 in Missouri.

Louisiana (MO)

The city of Louisiana offers the traveler food and lodging along the Byway.


Off of State Road 79 on the Great River Road in Missouri.

Mark Twain Cave (MO)

Located in Hannibal, this cave was the setting for some of Tom Saywer's adventures.


Hannibal, Missouri

Mark Twain State Park (MO)

Mark Twain State Park features Mark Twain Lake and Mark Twain'sbirthplace. Learn more about one of America's favorite authors atthe visitor center.


45 minutes west of Hannibal

New Madrid (MO)

Near the largest meander loop on the Mississippi River, the cityof New Madrid offers things for visitors to see and a history forthem to hear. Four of history's most violent earthquakes shook thegrounds of New Madrid in 1811 and 1812. Visitors will find a museumthere that exhibits the area's history.


Off of State Highway 79 in Missouri.

Ste. Genevieve (MO)

This is the oldest European settlement in Missouri.


Off of US Highway 61 in Missouri

214.8 miles (345 km)
5 to 6 hours depending on traffic in St. Louis.
Main Roads:
I-55 N and MO-79 N
There are no toll or byway fees. There may be fees for recreational activities or camping.
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