Arkansas’s Great River Road
The face of the river, in time, became a wonderful book . . . which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it had uttered them with a voice. And it was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell every day.
Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
Along The Natural State’s eastern border flows a mighty river that has transformed the land and the people within its reach. It is the majestic Mississippi River, which starts as a stream in Minnesota, winding throughout America’s heartland to Louisiana, where it relinquishes its powerful waters into the Gulf of Mexico.
Arkansas’s 362-mile section of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway received the designation of an All-American Road in 2021. The byway winds its way through the state’s eastern Delta region along the mighty stream. The waterway created a scenic and natural border that has beckoned people to its banks for centuries. Visitors can gaze upon acres of cotton, soybeans or rice as they travel through some of the most fertile land in the country. Along the trek, numerous historical and cultural sites preserve the history of Arkansas and its people and welcome visitors to learn more about this remarkable region. In The Natural State, Old Man River carved its way under its own terms…man tried to control it and failed miserably.
The Great River Road was established in 1938 when governors from the 10 states bordering the waterway decided to develop a network of rural roads and new highways to create a transcontinental parkway along the Mississippi River, crisscrossing the mighty river, totaling 2,340 miles. The Mississippi River Parkway Commission was formed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to preserve, promote, and enhance the scenic, historic and recreational resources of the Mississippi River; to foster economic growth in the corridor; and to develop the national, scenic and historic Great River Road.