And that voice is coming from the Great Rivers & Routes region of southwest Illinois.

The six-county region, located just outside St. Louis in Illinois, is full of sweeping scenic views and nationally-recognized hiking and biking trails. With treetop ziplining, river cruises, kayaking, and epic rides on a 1500-foot gondola/open air chair lift to the top of the river bluffs, experience outdoor fun at its finest.

Discover the thrills of kayaking on the Mighty Mississippi River and experience bird watching at the Audubon Center at Riverlands – located right in the middle of the Mississippi Flyway – the superhighway for migrating birds.

Take the road less traveled on your bicycle and explore the hundreds of miles of nationally recognized biking and hiking trails. From trails that meander alongside the Mississippi River, to gorgeous prairies and woodlands trails, the Madison County Transit trail system is second to none in the nation.

Travel the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway – one of the most dazzling scenic byways in the U.S. The Byway travels 33-miles along the Great River Road hugging the banks of the Mississippi River and shadowed by 300-foot limestone bluffs.

Abraham Lincoln in Alton

History adventurers can walk in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln in Alton, one of the communities along the scenic byway. Or experience the start of the famed Lewis & Clark journey at the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site in Hartford. The nearby Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower rises 180 feet in the air with unparalleled views of the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and the famed American Bottoms.

Rise to new heights along the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers in the historic riverfront community of Grafton.  Zip through the treetops at Grafton Zipline Adventures, a seven line zip experience that includes suspension bridges, scenic overlooks and heart racing zips across the river bluffs. If a more relaxing adventure is in your plans, enjoy a scenic ride up to the top of the river bluffs in Grafton on the Grafton SkyTour. Open air chair lifts and enclosed gondolas travel 1,500 feet from the Grafton riverfront to the top of the bluffs landing at the highly popular Aerie’s Resort. Take in the views while lunching or dining at The Winery at Aerie’s Resort.

Southwest Illinois Outdoor Adventure

Explore Illinois’ largest state Park – Pere Marquette State Park – with miles of scenic hiking trails and roadways wandering through the park. Visit the Pere Marquette Lodge and Conference Center and check out the massive limestone fireplace and life-sized chess set. See the park on horseback with a riding adventure at Pere Marquette Riding Stables.

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And the fun doesn’t end there. The Last 100 Miles of Route 66 travels through southwest Illinois showcasing the best of Americana and kitschy roadside fun. 

From Doc’s Off Route 66 in Girard, where you can enjoy an old-fashioned hand-pulled fountain soda, to the Skyview Drive-In in Litchfield, one of the few outdoor theaters left on the Mother Road, there are loads of adventures available. Meet a giant pink elephant at the Pink Elephant Antique Mall where treasures from the past await in a massive space sandwiched between a ‘50’s style diner and a vintage candy shop. Meet the rabbits – the furry kind and VW kind – at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton. Be sure to walk across the Mississippi River on the mile long and scenic Chain of Rocks Bridge, once a vehicle link for the road and now home to hikers and bicyclists. 

Discover the Great Outdoors Inside the Midwest in southwest Illinois.