National Scenic Byways Program is a grass-roots collaborative effort established to help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the United States. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes certain roads as All-American Roads or National Scenic Byways based on one or more archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities.
For an Interactive Map of the Great River Road, Click Here.
Delta Bluffs Scenic Byway – for an interactive trail mapping tool, click here
Follow the road less traveled on the Delta Bluffs Scenic Byway! It’s a relaxing detour for a breath of country air and local lore. Take exit (number) on I-55 and follow Commerce Street to Hernando, Mississippi. From there, follow Highway 304 west as the Delta Bluffs Scenic Byway takes you on a history-filled adventure through a myriad of unique geographical areas from the delta, the bluffs and surrounding hill country.
DeSoto County Museum
Once you’ve exited I-55 and are following Commerce Street west toward Hernando, Mississippi, you’ll spot the DeSoto County Museum the south side of the street. The museum is a great place to get your bearings, pick up some literature on nearby attractions and learn more about DeSoto County. You’ll find intriguing exhibits on the area’s early settlers, Civil War and Civil Rights history as well as an exhibit on the “Killler” Jerry Lee Lewis. Great balls of fire!
The Great Wide Open
Load up and leave your cares behind. The road to relaxation starts on Highway 304. Drive along Highway 304 and enjoy the Mississippi back roads bordered by rolling pastures, towering pines and seasonal flowers. In route, you’ll notice an old farm house or two – standing reminders of some the 200-plus dairy farms that once dotted the area’s landscape.
The Ark Wildlife Refuge
Just a few miles down Highway 304, you’ll see The Ark wildlife refuge. There is a small parking area that leads to a 2-mile hiking trail and Nature Interpretive Center. The scenery is exceptional and worth the relatively short hike.
Arkabutla Lake & Dam
At the junction of Highway 304 and Highway 301, take a left on Highway 301 and follow the signs to Arkabutla Lake. The Army Corp of Engineers has done a wonderful job of creating a flourishing recreation area at the base of the lake’s dam. If you like fishing, this is the place to drop your line. There are also hiking trails from 1 mile to 5 miles in length, as well as picnic areas and clean restrooms. RV and tent camping sites are available.
Johnson Creek Greenway
Once completed, the Johnson Creek Greenway will run east along Johnson Creek on US Highway 61 to its trailhead at the intersection of Church Road and Highway 301 in Horn Lake, MS. The trail will meander some 5 miles through hundreds of acres of pristine Delta lowlands.
Ancient Tribal Grounds
As you follow Highway 301 north onto Delta View Road, you’ll see a panoramic overlook of open farm land. This historic overlook is where Hernando DeSoto first encountered a Native American Indian village.
Walls, Mississippi – Home of the “Dashboard Jesus”
This small, rural agricultural community was originally named Alpika, an old Chickasaw Indian word meaning “…..”. In 1906, the town was renamed Walls after Civil War Confederate Captain Walls. In 1947, the Catholic Church opened the Sacred Heart School in Walls. From this tiny school, the Sacred Heart Auto League was created by Father Gregory Bezy in 1955. The Auto League’s mission was to encourage people nationwide to drive “prayerfully and carefully” to reduce road fatalities. The Auto League’s symbol was a plastic statue of Jesus that became nationally known as the “Dashboard Jesus”. While the statues are no longer available, the memory lives on in this tiny rural community.
Memphis Minnie – The Pride of Walls
The Delta Bluffs Scenic Byway snakes its way along Austin Road and a series of turns as you travel through Walls, MS. While the town may not be large, one of the biggest names in blues music, Memphis Minnie, called it home. Legend has it that Memphis Minnie joined Ringling Brothers Circus as a traveling musician. Minnie eventually joined up with future husband and musician Joe “ Kansas Joe” McCoy and the popular duo signed on with Columbia Records. Their biggest hit was “Bumble Bee”. One of their most recognized songs is “When the Levee Breaks” which was later cover by the band Led Zeppelin in 1971.
The Mighty Mississippi
Follow the signs from Walls to your next stop, Hernando River Park. Soon you will see the enormous levee that borders Old Man River. When the paved road turns to dirt, continue traveling across the levy. It’s difficult to tell, but you ARE NOT driving off a cliff into the Mississippi River… promise!!!! Here you will see the Mississippi River much like Hernando DeSoto saw it nearly 500 years ago. In fact, DeSoto’s expedition crossed the Mississippi River at this junction in small canoes under the curious eyes of Native American Indians. Much of this area is under development to add picnic areas, grills and a walking trail.
Back to civilization!
Town Square – Hernando, MS
As you follow Old Highway 61 back toward Hernando, roll down the windows and enjoy the fresh air and Mississippi countryside. The Delta Bluffs Scenic Byway ends back where you started in Hernando. Once you arrive on the square in Hernando, touring the courthouse is a must. It’s definitely worth checking out the enormous murals of one of the area’s earliest explorers Hernando DeSoto. The square is also home to a trove of eclectic shops and cafés. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, shop and stretch your legs. May we recommend dessert at the famous “The Dip” restaurant on Highway 51. Just blocks from the Hernando town square, The Dip has just about every kind of sweet temptation you can imagine… and some you can’t.
Great River Road Map – CLICK HERE FOR INTERACTIVE MAP