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Your RV Guide to the Mississippi River Road Trip


By Stuart Webb
RV Travel Contributing Writer, about.com
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The United States is a large country. Sometimes that works against RVers trying to get from A to B but that large size also provides a great opportunity for the classic road trip. Road trips have long been part of RVing history and they still continue to this day. The real question is, where should I go? 

You can find a great American road trip along the banks of likely the most iconic river in the United States, the Mississippi River. The legend of this body of water has existed as long as the US and the mythos that surrounds it makes for a fantastic road trip. That being said, what does a Mississippi River road trip look like? Let’s lay out this road trip to let you know where to go, where to stay and what destinations and landmarks to see along the way. Let your tires run like the mighty Mississippi.

About the Mississippi River Road Trip[post_ads_2]

There won’t be too much weaving and interchanges along this route as your route will be guided by the Great River Road.

This road was developed in 1938 and is more of a series of local and state routes that follows the meandering Mississippi from its mouth all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Just follow the distinct Great River Road markers to keep on your route. Now that you know about the Great River Road, let’s get to the route itself. 

North Terminus: Park Rapids, MN

Where to Stay in Park Rapids: Itasca State Park 

Itasca, Minnesota offers fantastic State Park that has great amenities in a great area. 160 of the over 200 sites come with electrical and water hookups, no sewer hookup at the site but there is a central dump station. The bathrooms and showers are well maintained and the park takes care of your other needs with a picnic and group areas. You also have a boat ramp, fishing dock, playground and more right on site.

What to Do in Park Rapids[post_ads_2]

You’ll be right in the heart of the action by staying right in the park. You can check out the interactive exhibits, hike the trails, take a kayak out on the water or bike around the area. Make sure to bring your fishing pole for this area to fish Lake Itasca itself, the Mississippi headwaters and other local areas. If bodies of water are your thing, you’ll be well taken care of at Itasca State Park. 

First Stop: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota (Twin Cities)

Where to Stay in the Twin Cities: Lebanon Hills Regional Campground (Apple Valley) 

Apple Valley is a suburb of the Twin Cities but is plenty close to several things to do. This public park has plenty of spacious RV sites that have full utility hookups to take care of your creature comforts and a laundry facility and bath houses to keep everything clean. You’ll have fire pits and picnic tables for smores and a camp store to stock up on some basic supplies. Lebanon Hills is a great place to rest and recharge before checking out what the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have to offer. 

What to Do in the Twin Cities [post_ads_2]

And there is plenty to do in the Twin Cities. If you’re outdoor-minded than you can try Minnehaha Park, Lake Harriet or the Lake of the Isles. If you feel like getting cultured you have a few choices in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Mill City Museum or the Museum of Russian Art. Other points of interest include the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota History Center. Lots of varied destinations for varied interests in the Twin Cities. 
Pit Stop: Wisconsin Dells for some of the best water parks in the entire nation. 

Second Stop: The Quad Cities 

Where to Stay in the Quad Cities: West Lake Park, Davenport, Iowa

We go from twin cities to quad cities at our next stop. The starting point of your Quad Cities journey begins at West Lake Park in Davenport, Iowa. This highly rated park is outfitted with plenty of amenities for RVers such as full utility hookups, dump station, hot showers, restrooms, playground, all in the middle of a lovely public park.  

What to Do in the Quad Cities

The Quad Cities actually includes five cities with Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa as well as Rock Island, Moline and East Moline in Illinois. A lot of the fun will come out of Davenport with the Vander Veer Botanical Park, Figge Art Museum and the delicious culinary creations found at Chocolate Manor. The Putnam Museum of History and Natural Science also has some great regular and seasonal exhibits to entertain both you and the kids. If you’re feeling bored, just head down to the riverfront to watch the passing boats and barges. 

Third Stop: St. Louis, Missouri 

Where to Stay in St. Louis: Casino Queen RV Park, East St. Louis

This RV park is attached to Casino Queen and is outfitted like a casino resort. The sites are pull-through, outfitted with full utility hookups and also come with cable and wireless internet access. The bath houses and laundry facilities are kept clean and the park can meet that late night snack attack with a convenience store. This park not only offers 24/7 access to the casino itself but also has great access to nearby points of interest. 

What to Do in St. Louis 

St. Louis, Missouri is known as the gateway to the west and what better way to appreciate its legacy then by checking out the famous Gateway Arch, you can even take an elevator to the top of the arch! St. Louis is a big city so there will be plenty to do. If you like being outside, you can try the Missouri Botanical Garden or Forest Park. If you like stuff for the kids, you can try out the St. Louis Zoo or Grant’s Farm. Other points of interest include City Museum, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis and the Missouri Civil War Museum. [post_ads_2]
Pit Stop: Branson, Missouri for some casino fun, live entertainment and classic Missouri fare like barbecue. There’s always a show going on in Branson. 

Fourth Stop: Memphis, Tennessee

Where to Stay in Memphis: Graceland RV Park and Campground 

While you may not be able to stay in Graceland itself, being just a few steps away is not bad. The Graceland RV Park and Campgroud sites come with full utility hookups along with a choice of 30 or 50 amp electrical. The well-maintained grounds house bath houses and laundry facilities, Wi-Fi access and a camping store. On top of all that you’ll get hiking and biking trails, a swimming pool and the whole park is patrolled by security 24/7.

What to Do in Memphis[post_ads_2]

Considering that you’re right across the street from Graceland, you should make that your first destination. Take a walk around Elvis Presley’s famous home base and feel what it was like to be The King. After you’ve finished up at Graceland the city is yours to explore. Soul music is the theme here so you should try places such as Sun Studio, the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum or the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. At night just stroll around famous Beale St. and catch some of the famous live music for yourself. 

Fifth Stop: Greenville, Mississippi 

Where to Stay in Greenville: Warfield Point Park 

A great park right on the banks of the Mississippi in Mississippi at Warfield Point Park. There are 52 sites all decked out with full utility hookups and some sites come with their own fire pits for relaxing around the fire. The bath houses are kept spick and span so no worries about shower sandals here. The park has its own fun amenities like a disc golf course, horseshoe pits, volleyball court and boat ramp if you happen to be hauling a watercraft. 

What to Do in Greenville 

Between the urban stops of Memphis and New Orleans, you’ll find the beautiful river-minded community of Greenville. Taking advantage of the river’s resources is your best bet and you can take care of this by exploring the Greenville Cypress Preserve, the Mississippi and the ancient mounds of Winterville Mounds. To mix it up you can run over to EE Bass Cultural Arts Center and if you don’t feel like being outside you can always hit up the local area casinos with Harlow’s Casino being one of the most popular in the area. River fun or casino fun in Greenville. 

South Terminus, New Orleans, Louisiana 

Where to Stay in New Orleans: French Quarter RV Resort 

We end the Mississippi River road trip with one of the best RV parks you will stay at on your trip. French Quarter RV Resort is home to 52 large and level spaces outfitted with full utility hookups as well as cable TV. You’ll be able to take care of any end-of-trip cleanup with the park’s private bath houses and public laundry facilities and the entire parked is monitored with 24/7 onsite security personnel. On top of these great basic amenities, you’ll also get a pool, Jacuzzi, rec room, fitness center and more. 

What to Do in New Orleans [post_ads_2]

One of the best parts about staying at French Quarter RV Resort is its proximity to the city’s attractions. You’ll be within walking distance of the famous French Quarter where you can grab a hurricane, go dancing, or just check out the French Quarter’s famous street buskers. There’s more to New Orleans than just the French Quarter, you have Jackson Square, New Orleans City Park and the National World War II Museum. If you’re a bit overwhelmed with the choices, you can take part in a guided city tour. New Orleans is just a fun town to end your road trip on.

When to Go On the Mississippi River Road Trip 

Along the Mississippi can be pretty sweltering during the summer, even in Minnesota. That’s why we recommend this trip in the early fall or late spring. You will be able to have more fun when you aren’t constantly worried about dehydration or heat stroke. We don’t recommend taking this trip in the dead of winter or you may not be able to start your RV up in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa due to frigid temperatures. 

There is no question that the Mississippi River helped make America what it is today. If you want to honor this great river as well as the towns and destinations it helped build, I can think of no better way than to take the Mississippi River road trip.

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Travel Magazine: Your RV Guide to the Mississippi River Road Trip
Your RV Guide to the Mississippi River Road Trip
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