The Great River Road was established in 1938 as the national parkway of the Mississippi River. It extends through ten states along the river and offers glimpses into how the heartland of America developed. The 362-mile route in Arkansas consists of segments of 13 highways, several forest service and county roads and city streets. The Great River Road was designated as an Arkansas Scenic Byway in 2001. In 2002, it was designated as Arkansas’ second National Scenic Byway by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration.
The Great River Road traverses the ten Arkansas Counties that border the Mississippi River. This region, known as the Delta, is part of the nation’s largest alluvial plain. Travelers on the route experience both the mighty river and its legacy of shaping landscapes and lives along its path.
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 traverses 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.
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