Views Worth the Trip Along the Great River Road

As you and your crew wind between the towering bluffs and mighty Mississippi along the scenic Great River Road, be sure to take a turn up into the hills you pass by. From Alma in the north to Nelson Dewey State Park in the south, these sunset perches and sweeping vistas will put you up where the river’s abundant eagles soar and make for an extra-memorable outing

Buena Vista Park – Alma

The historic Swiss town of Alma sits along the Mississippi just below Lock and Dam Number 4. Follow the walking trail that leads directly from town up to Buena Vista Park, situated 500 feet above the river and lock. If your group prefers to take the easier route, you can drive up from the backside of the bluff instead. The park has a pavilion with grillsthe perfect spot for a picnic with friends with the mighty river bluffs as a backdrop.  

Perrot State Park – Trempealeau

Situated where the Trempealeau River joins the Mississippi, Perrot is home to several overlooks, including the 520-foot peak of Brady’s Bluff and the 507-foot Perrot Ridge. Trail options near the peak vary from gentle inclines and stairs to steeper climbs. Share a famous Walnut Burger with friends at The Trempealeau Hotel, Restaurant and Saloon right outside the park. Better yet, stay the night and explore for even longer! 

Grandad Bluff – La Crosse

Stretching high over the city of La Crosse, Grandad Bluff is the best city view of the Great River Road journey, and visitors can also enjoy the Mississippi sparkling in the sun and the bluffs of Minnesota to boot. If you’re staying the night, consider the converted historic candy factory that is The Charmant Hotel, where you can gather with friends at the rooftop bar for sundowners. And if you’re following the Great River Road from the north, stop and get a group selfie with Sunny the Sunfish, a statue along the roadside in Onalaska. 

Rush Creek State Natural AreaFerryville

If you roll with hikers and want a view to yourselves, try this trek to the top of a 400-foot bluff at Rush Creek State Natural Area. The steep “goat prairie” can be found teeming with wildflowers and offers an unobstructed view of the Mississippi in all its splendor. Afterward, hit up Ferryville for a burger at Wooden Nickel Saloon and re-stock the cooler with tastes of Wisconsin at Ferryville Cheese and More 

Wyalusing State Park – Bagley

Not only is this riverside park a perfect camping destination for nights around the fire and under the stars, it’s also an excellent stop for a sunset. Park near Point Lookout Shelter for a view out over the Wisconsin River where it flows into the Mississippi. If you're visiting in the warmer seasons, check out Pete’s Hamburger Stand in nearby Prairie du Chien with your crew—it's been run by the same family for over 100 years! The line may be long, but it moves fast and is worth the wait. 

Nelson Dewey State Park – Cassville

Take in the view from the 500-foot bluffs at Nelson Dewey State Park, named for Wisconsin’s first governor. If you and your group are camping, the hike-in sites are worth it here: visitors earn unobstructed views of the river from the bluff. You can also see Native American mounds along a short hiking trail. Right outside the park, you and your friends can travel back in time one hundred years to visit Stonefield, a historic re-creation of a Wisconsin farming village and farmstead, with docents in costume and in character for interactive fun. 

Discover more fun on Wisconsin’s Great River Road with this small-town itinerary.  



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