There’s never a bad time to plan your trip down the Wisconsin Great River Road. The full Great River Road is a 3,000-mile journey through ten states. It follows the winding Mississippi River from Minnesota all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Driving the great river road route from beginning to end would take about 36 hours! But we recommend a bit of exploration along the way.
And for even more information on the Great River Road Scenic Byway and other great things to do in the area, be sure to download our free Vacation Guide.
Great River Road Wisconsin Scenic Byway
Many people like to explore the road in the fall or spring, but every season offers something unique. And of course we think some of the best exploring happens along the Great River Road route in Wisconsin! This 250-mile route travels through small communities and urban cities. All 33 of them have something unique to experience and explore! Some of the communities have been around since the 1600s. And the breathtaking views of the river from our sandstone bluffs will never cease to amaze!
Winter on the Great River Road
Some of the best ice fishing in the state is found along the Great River Road’s Mississippi.
Mississippi River Pool 8, in Genoa
De Soto Bay in Vernon County
Goose Island County Park, near La Crosse
French Island, along the Mississippi River near La Crosse
And for great fishing advice, rentals, or tours, check out Driftless Angler Fly Shop in Viroqua (closest to Westby) and Clement’s Fishing Barge in Genoa, WI. Note: the Mississippi River is a continuous open season. And consider coming on free ice fishing weekend, always the third Saturday and Sunday in January. No permit required!
Tips to Plan Your Trip
- The Great River Road Scenic Byway website has helpful links, including current Wisconsin road conditions and river attractions.
- Order a free Great River Road map here. You can even get information by state. (We suggest Wisconsin!).
- Download a free audio tour of the Wisconsin Great River Road to make sure you don’t miss a thing!
Don’t Miss These Great Stops
- The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin – Every child who grew up loving the Little House on the Prairie books will enjoy the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. Pepin, Wisconsin, is Laura’s birthplace. There’s also a recreation of the Big House in the Little woods on the original three acres owned by the Ingalls family.
- The Waterfront Restaurant in La Crosse – Enjoy some of Wisconsin’s finest dining from a patio with a beautiful view. (Our blog about the Waterfront Restaurant is here.)
- The Great River Road Wine Trail – The Great River Road Wine Trail has lined up 11 excellent wineries along the road, and five are in Wisconsin. If you’re a wine lover, check out the Villa Bellezza winery, Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery, Danzinger Vineyard, Seven Hawks Vineyard, and Elmaro Vineyard.
- Potosi Brewing Company – Originally founded in 1852, the Potosi Brewing Company is home to craft beers galore, as well as The National Brewery Museum. There’s also a family friendly restaurant with a great menu.
- Perrot State Park in Trempealeau – Known for its natural, archaeological, and historical resources, Perrot State Park also provides a wonderful habitat for lots of birds and wildlife. In addition to bird and wildlife watching, Perrot offers hiking, canoeing, and biking.
Rest at the Westby House Inn
After you’ve explored Wisconsin up and down the Mississippi, come relax at one the best places to stay in Wisconsin! Our comfortable suites, gourmet breakfast, and mouth-watering restaurant will provide you with everything you need to recharge for another day on the Great River Road Scenic Byway. Be sure to download our complimentary Vacation Guide for more information on things to do in the Driftless Area!