Let’s start our tour by heading west over the Mississippi River Bridge on Hwy 16 to La Crescent.
Pay attention to the bluffs above La Crescent as you travel west over to Minnesota.
On the south side of La Crescent you may be able to get some late season apples, if you’re lucky. Let’s take a left on the Great River Road (Hwy 26) and follow it south down to New Albin. For those that have packed the cooler today a stop at New Albin’s City Meat Market is a treat (Hint: They’re known for their thick bacon and multiple flavors of beef sticks).
Next, we head south to Lansing for some great sightseeing opportunities.
Lansing is home to S&S Houseboats, a great marina that can help you experience the Mighty Mississippi on anything from a stand up paddleboard all the way up to a top of the line houseboat. Make sure you travel Front Street along the river for great views of the fall colors and the Black Hawk Bridge. Next head west up Main St. to Mt. Hosmer City Park. Travel up to the park’s two viewing areas, where one can experience a three-state panoramic view and photo ops with the Black Hawk Bridge as a backdrop.
Let’s continue our tour down to Marquette and McGregor.
Marquette has recently added a River Boardwalk that juts out onto the Mississippi River, giving one the feeling of being on a boat and providing more photo ops. Next, let’s meander through McGregor and head up to Pike’s Peak State Park. The observation area from here will provide a view of the convergence of the Wisconsin River into the Mississippi River. Let your mind wander back to days gone by. Enjoy the view as you daydream of Julien Dubuque travelling down the Wisconsin River in search of his lead mining treasures.
Now let’s head back through McGregor and east over the Marquette-Joliet Bridge into Prairie Du Chien. A stop at the Chamber of Commerce may provide you with some hints. We recommend you don’t miss St. Feriole Island Park to learn of the city’s place in history.
Now we find Hwy 35 to Ferryville on the Wisconsin Great River Road.
A stop at Ferryville’s Riverview Park Overlook will provide an expansive look across the river. Notice the habitat that has formed here, just north of the lock and dam. Get the camera ready for the fall colors east of the overlook and the bird migration happening on the river.
Heading north again, let’s stop at Lock & Dam #9 just south of Genoa. Take a trek out to the viewing platform that provides a great view of fall colors, along with a peek into a working lock & dam. Depending on the time of the season, you may capture a barge going through as it travels south to its winter docking station.
Back in the vehicle we go and it’s up to Stoddard next. For those looking to schedule a place to stay, the Safe Landing Motel will provide a great fall respite. Travelling north up to La Crosse you will find many overlooks on both sides of the road.
Arriving back in La Crosse, it may be dinner time. Finally, no fall color tour is complete without a sunset from atop La Crosse’ Grandad Bluff.
Enjoy your stay!
Dan Fisher covers tourism and travel within the Upper Mississippi River Region. He currently provides content for a number of area travel sites within Wisconsin and Iowa.