Great River Road (Arkansas) National Scenic Byway
Marked by green-and-white highway signs depicting a steamboats pilot wheel, the Great River Road extends through 10 states along the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Designated a national scenic byway in 2002, Arkansas's portion of the route traverses part of the nation's largest alluvial plain, allowing travelers to experience both the mighty river and its legacy of shaping landscapes and lives along its path.
Known in the region as the Delta, the plain covers in eastern Arkansas alone more than 15,000 square miles, including all or part of 27 of the state's 75 counties. Contained within the level expanse of the Delta, Crowley's Ridge extends for 160 miles and rises as much as 200 feet above the surrounding lowlands. The unusual geological feature was formed when the ancestral Mississippi and Ohio rivers eroded away the land on each side and deposits of wind-blown soils added height to the remnant ridge.
At the time of pioneer settlement, most Delta terrain was lowlands and swamps, rich in virgin timber and wildlife. Some two centuries later, it is largely agricultural, producing voluminous crops of soybeans, rice, cotton and wheat.
For much of its length, the Great River Road (Arkansas) National Scenic Byway journeys through those agricultural lands, passing remnants of the original wetlands and traveling through towns whose histories and economies were influenced by the river. From Marianna to Helena, however, the route penetrates the woodlands of the St. Francis National Forest on Crowley's Ridge.
THINGS TO KNOW:
The major towns on the byway are Blytheville, West Memphis, Marianna, Helena, DeWitt, Dumas, McGehee and Lake Village. Lodging, dining and shopping opportunities in those and other communities can be researched by visiting the Arkansas Delta Byways website.
Two areas of cultural interest along the byway are Native Americans and blues music. The legacy of Arkansas's largest concentrations of Native Americans can be explored at the Hampson Museum and Parkin Archeological state parks.
Don't miss the opportunity to visit the Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash in the small town of Dyess. The Colony Administration Building and the home have been restored to what they looked like when Johnny Cash was growing up there.
Arkansas's role in the development of blues music can be explored in interactive and audio exhibits at the Delta Cultural Center.
MAJOR AREA ATTRACTIONS:
REGIONAL TOURISM INFORMATION: