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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone run the Great River Road?

Thinking about riding a chunk of it soon. From St Croix Falls, MN down to Hannibal, MO.
 

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The wife and I rode parts of it last October. Some of it is absolutely beautiful, some of it is mostly industrial, parts don't even have a view of the river. Our trip was in part inspired by the Feasting on Asphalt special.

http://www.twtex.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22203
 

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From the WI side, you won't pick up the GRR until the Prescott/Hastings area. North of Hastings, the Mississippi is fully inside MN. Prescott/Hastings is where the St. Croix River empties into to Mississippi and the Mississippi becomes the state border.

http://www.experiencemississippiriver.com/river-cities.cfm
Detailed map of the Great River Road, really interesting to see, use the size increase function in this PDF to get close details:
http://www.experiencemississippiriver.com/pdf/EMR-Detailed-Map.pdf

St. Croix Falls (the starting point you mentioned) is in WI, across the St. Croix River from Taylors Falls, MN, on WI 35. This point is, oh, about 50 miles as the crow flies north of Prescott/Hastings.

I've been on both WI 35 from Prescott to the Illinois border (down to Galena, IL, actually) and US Hwy 61 on the west side of the Miss in MN, both are beautiful. Hwy 61 probably carries more traffic, and has more sections of 4-lane. WI 35 is 2-lane, quieter, has more enjoyable wiggles, and passes through all kinds of neat little towns.

When returning from Galena to Minneapolis, we jumped the river at Dubuque, Iowa, and skirted the river north on a mix of county roads and 2-lane highways. Holy smokes, that was downright delicious! And we were in the car. I gotta get back there on my bike.

As to the entire length of WI Hwy 35, I've ridden its entire length from Superior, WI (across the harbor from Duluth, MN) to the Illinois border. As far as I'm concerned, the stretch from Prescott, WI south to Illinois is wonderful. North of Prescott to Superior is no big deal at all.

Enjoy your trip! Get an extra memory card for your camera.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Feasting on Asphalt is what peaked my interest initially.

We'll be traveling both sides on the trip.

About where do the industrialized bits start? I'd like to go all the way down to New Orleans, but I'm not interested in an industrial tour. I'm thinking Hannibal would be a good place to turn around.

Thanks for the info and the links guys.
 

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Well, I don't know about much of the route other than what is here in MN and WI, and really only from the Twin Cities and south. That river is the main traveling link for industry in the central US of A, so "industrial" towns will be found up and down its length. Agri-business and bulk goods of every kind are moved in and out of every port. But between those big cities are mile after mile of rural country. But like "10-95" said, sometimes you aren't anywhere near the river, but rather running parallel to it through that area.

The Twin Cities (Mpls/St. Paul), Dubuque, and the Quad Cities area (Davenport/Bettendorf Iowa and Moline/Rock Island Illinois) I think are going to be the three largest population/industrial centers south through the middle of Iowa, I can't speak to anyplace south of that. Towns in between those points are small to medium size towns. Visiting towns like Red Wing, MN and LaCrosse, WI will be worth the time to stop, both have wonderful historic downtown areas to visit. But nearly every other little gem in between will have its own hidden treasure. Just go explore!
 

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Just rode down the GRR from Prescott to Wabasha on the WI side (nice), then from Wabasha to LaCrosse on the MN side (mostly 65mph, kinda boring), then back to the WI side until Prairie du Chien (nice), then on the IA side through Dubuque and eventually Sabula (really nice), where I crossed over to Savanna, IL and headed towards Chicago.

The Iowa portion was really great, albeit a bit slower - 45mph was quite frequent. But lots of up and down over and through the bluffs, with enough winding to make it enjoyable.

Savanna, IL is home to the Iron Horse Social Club and museum. Not quite sure what it's all about (the website wouldn't work for me), but the day I passed through town, there must have been 200+ motorcycles of all styles parked throughout town, attending some sort of event there.

Dubuque also seemed like it would be a neat town to explore for a little while - it looked like it had a nice old downtown.

Don't know anything more further south. But if you're willing to stray a 1/2 hour from the river, and like B&Bs, check out the
, in Oregon, IL. Beautiful place, wonderful owners. A little Victorian froofy for my tastes, but very comfortable with lots of amenities.

I have fond memories of the Quad Cities, 'though I haven't been there in 15 years or so. Davenport, IA had a really nice riverfront and downtown as I recall.

Enjoy the ride!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sounds great. Not sure how far I'll go. I've allotted 10 days down and back. I guess I'll just turn around the morning of day 5, wherever that will be. It'll take me a day just to get over to the river.
 

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Jim B, I've driven the river top to bottom many times. Born and raised in NE Iowa and went to college in River Falls, Wi and Baton Rouge. Your original plan is about right. There's not a lot of good scenery south of Hannibal. The Illinois side between there and St Louis kind of compare to the chemical plants between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. If I recall, Alton Brown's trip feautred a really cool place in one of those steel towns called Alton that had some good grub at a tavern of somesort. Although if you want some ribs cooked properly Memphis is not to be missed. I believe the last lock and dam is right around St Louis so things flatten out a lot from there as well.

I'd suggest Wis 35 and cross the bridge at Prairie Du Chein into Iowa and take the county roads to Pike's Peak State Park (yes, there really is one) and down those county roads that go from near Garnavillo to Guttenberg. Jump on US 52 till the turn to North Bueva Vista, Sherrill, Balltown (don't look for Breitbach's it burned down) and into Dubuque. Make a little side trip to Galena on US 20 and go south to Savanna, Sabula and to the Quad Cities. From there the Iowa side on 61 is relatively boring, so you might want to make your way south to Quincy on the Illinois side. Check out Tom Sawyer's fence and make your way back north.

If you end up in NE Iowa on the way back check out the 2-Mit hamburger wagon in Elkader, giant pork tenderloin at St Olaf Tap or a Gunder Burger right up the road. The Hwy 76 north of Marquette to Effigy Mounds National park (Indian mounds shaped like animals on the river bluffs) and get to Waukon, Decorah and Lansing. Lot's of hills and curvy roads in that area.

Here's a bicycle map of that area.

http://www.midwestscenic.com/tsr-popup-routemap-560.php

Rod
07 Vee
Riverview, FL
 

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Just some thoughts, JimB. I'll try to answer any questions or draw up a Garmin map. I'm sure you'll have fun. If you know any Moto Guzzi guys, they have their national rallies in those areas I was talking about and I'm sure they have maps.

Beautiful part of the country. I don't miss the winters or all of those freakin small town COPS. Man, I used to get a couple speeding tickets a year for doing next to nothing!

Rod
07 Vee
Riverview, FL
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks. I appreciate it. Not sure when I'll be going, I've got a Huron Circle to do first. Maybe in the fall.
 

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Back in '01 my wife and I jumped on my 'Wing and followed the Mississippi from St. Paul, MN all the way to Memphis. It's a nice scenic ride.
 

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listen to rod

I grew up in Prairie du Chien, you want to ride the LaCrosse to Prairie du Chien section for sure and I would do the Iowa side with Guttenburg also. its beautiful
 
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