Alton, Illinois: An Itinerary Through Culture, History and Nature
Looking at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers from an overlook on the way into Alton, the first word that comes to mind is “beautiful.” Alton, Illinois, is a town of special charm where natural beauty, compelling history and rich culture meet. Take a drive on the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway that runs along the Mississippi River, and visit these historic and cultural spots.
First Stop: Outdoor Fun at Pere Marquette State Park
First on your driving itinerary is Pere Marquette State Park, a spot nature and outdoor lovers will definitely want to visit. At this 8,000-acre park, not only you can enjoy the spectacular view of the Illinois River, but you can also participate in fun-filled activities such as horseback riding, camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, boating and wildlife watching. During fall, beautiful fall foliage on the trees will completely captivate you and get you in a festive mood.
Second Stop: Exploring Lewis & Clark State Historic Site
How about a journey back to the world of the Lewis & Clark expedition? Your second stop is the Interpretive Center of the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site, where you can see the full-scale replica of the expedition’s keelboat as well as other captivating exhibits documenting the explorers’ historic trek into the wilderness beyond the Mississippi River. Check out the reconstruction of Camp Dubois, Lewis and Clark’s winter camp where they trained the men who would join them on their expedition, and the launch site where it all began at the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. It is a great place to learn American history and culture. Local volunteers regularly perform re-enactments that bring history to life. This is a very unique way to travel back in time to those early days of America.
From the Lewis & Clark site, you can wind your way back to your own base camp in Alton. Enjoy a fantastic dinner at any number of restaurants and relax the night away back at your hotel.
Third Stop: The Impressive Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
The third must-visit stop on your drive is Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, once a thriving city of 20,000 Native Americans who lived here from 700 to 1400 AD. Staring at the mounds, you can begin to imagine how those ancient Native Americans worked and lived. All of the mounds were built with the blood, sweat and tears of these native peoples. Cahokia Mounds is also home to the largest man-made earthen mound on North America, called Monks Mound. At the interpretive center, you can do a self-guided tour and learn more facts about this fascinating place, which is also classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site.