Illinois Scenic Drives: Ohio River Scenic Byway

Highlights of Ohio River Scenic Byway

Historic houses are visible from Ohio River Scenic Byway.
Historic houses are visible from Ohio River Scenic Byway.

The Ohio River Scenic Byway must-see tour begins in Cairo and runs to the Indiana border. Here are some the sights you will see along the way.

Fort Defiance Park: Fort Defiance Park is right on the byway. Stop and view the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, where you can see tugs working.

The Hewer, Safford Memorial Library, and U.S. Custom House Museum: Taking Highway 51 right through Cairo (on Washington Avenue), travel 1.5 miles to The Hewer statue in Halliday Park on the corner of Washington and Poplar Avenues. About a half mile later, you can see the Safford Memorial Library, where you can pick up a 50-cent book out of the "treasure bin." Across the street is the U.S. Custom House Museum.

Millionaire's Row: Where Highway 51 and Washington Avenue split, take a short detour following Washington Avenue along Millionaire's Row to see turn-of-the century mansions such as River Lore and Magnolia Manor, which is open for tours. Then turn right on 28th Street to rejoin the byway.

Mound City National Cemetery: Heading north out of Cairo is the Mound City National Cemetery. Confederate and Union soldiers are buried side by side here. From Mound City, the byway route goes onto Highway 37.

Olmstead Lock and Dam: Traveling north on Highway 37, ­about five miles later is the Olmstead Lock and Dam project, which offers a lookout pavilion and restrooms. The route then goes up Highway 37 about five miles to the Grand Chain Joppa Blacktop, and then it runs into Highway 45.

Superman Square: Highway 45 goes south into Metropolis, where you can see Superman Square in the center of town. A riverside casino is located in Metropolis.

Fort Massac State Park: Fort Massac State Park is the next stop (two miles south of Superman Square), located on Highway 45, with picnic tables, a museum, and a variety of events that occur throughout the year. Follow the byway out through Brookport, Unionville, and Liberty up through Bay City to Golconda (about 45 miles from Metropolis), where you will find the Golconda Marina, the Buel House, and many antique and novelty shops.

Cave-in-Rock State Park: Continue on Highway 146 and go through Elizabethtown and on to Cave-in-Rock State Park, with a lodge, a restaurant, picnic tables, and trails.

Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area: North of Cave-in-Rock State Park, you can stop by Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area in the Shawnee National Forest to enjoy the hiking trails and picnic tables.

Along the Ohio River Scenic Byway, many interesting spurs offer must-see natural highlights. This scenic drive won't disappoint.

Find more useful information related to Alaska's Glenn Highway:

  • Illinois Scenic Drives: Ohio River Scenic Byway is just one of the scenic byways in Illinois. Check out the others.
  • Cairo: Find out what there is to do in this city along Ohio River Scenic Byway.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond Illinois? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.