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
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
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: