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Fall Travel Along the Great River Road

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Fall Travel Along the Great River Road

Planning your next fall vacation? You’ll find plenty of things to do all around Alton, Illinois, this autumn. Visit Alton, Godfrey, Grafton, Elsah, Jerseyville and Calhoun County and enjoy beautiful fall color drives along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway (the Illinois portion of the Great River Road), relaxing wineries and family adventures including a seven-acre corn maze, a zip line and numerous overlooks of amazing fall colors along the Mississippi River. When you’re looking for fall weekend getaways, Alton, Grafton, Godfrey, Illinois, have it all.

Fall Colors 2019
Leaves will begin to change color in early October.

Peak Foliage Dates for 2011 – 2018
Year   Peak Dates (Week)
2018    Nov. 5 - Nov. 10

2017    Nov. 4 - Nov. 9

2016   Oct. 30 - Nov. 5
2015    Oct. 25 - Oct. 31
2014    Oct. 26 - Nov. 1
2013    Nov. 3 – Nov. 9
2012    Oct. 28 – Nov. 3
2011    Oct. 23 – Oct. 29


There are three great rivers roadtrips all around Alton to catch beautiful fall foilage.

Whether you're biking, hiking or driving along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway, the fall colors are simply breathtaking. Autumn color cruising along the byway, over river ferries and among the rolling hills of the countryside has become a favorite pastime for repeat visitors to the region.

Meeting of the Great Rivers
It’s the road most traveled heading west on the Great River Road from Alton to Elsah, Grafton and Pere Marquette State Park and back. The average weekend warrior takes this drive because it is the easiest run to remember, but it has the heaviest traffic on Autumn Saturdays and Sundays.

Length: 80 miles roundtrip (approximately 1 hour, 42 minutes)
Directions: Click Here



US 67 Country Loop
We consider this to be the best country day drive in the state of Illinois. Enter anywhere along this loop, but remember: drive counter clockwise and see the Scenic Byway by driving downriver – the view of the bluffs is the absolute best. 

Length: 90.4 miles (approximately 2 hours, 14 minutes)
Directions: Click Here

Calhoun County Vistas & Ferries Loop
Rolling hills, winding roads, orchards and riverboat ferries create the perfect scenery for a peaceful drive through Calhoun County. If you began the loop at the Golden Eagle Ferry, simply cross the Brussels Ferry back into Calhoun County to access the ferry and return to Missouri.

Length: 63.1 miles (approximately 1 hour, 36 minutes)
Directions: Click Here

Spend the Night At B&Bs & Guest Houses
When you're in town, spend the night at two of the best bed & breakfast inns in the state of Illinois – the Beall Mansion and the Tara Point Inn. Both places offer stunning views of fall colors.

Beall Mansion
Located on “Millionaire’s Row” in Alton, it was voted “Illinois’ Best Bed & Breakfast” by Illinois Magazine. This elegant bed & breakfast, with eleven and a half foot ceilings and rooms adorned in antiques and marble bronze, was once the private residence of Senator Edmond Beall.  Visitors who come to the Beall will be pampered and will enjoy luxurious accommodations, including: private baths, whirlpools, fireplaces, plush robes and more.

Tara Point Inn
Further up the Great River Road in Grafton, the Tara Point Inn maintains a commanding presence atop the towering limestone bluffs overlooking the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.  Known for its breathtaking scenic views, the Tara Point Inn was chosen as one of the “Most Scenic Views” by Arlington’s Inn Traveler magazine for 2004. 

In addition to these two wonderful B&Bs, there are numerous guest houses, cabins and hotels available for guests in the Alton region. Visitors to the Village of Elsah can travel back in time to “the town that time forgot” for the Green Tree Inn or Maple Leaf Cottage. And don't forget about Alton Cracker Factory which offers fantastic views of the Mississippi River in Historic Downtown Alton.


Follow us on Facebook & Instagram to view more photos and see what our fans are saying as they make their journeys along the road in the coming days.

Here in the Alton area, the Napa Valley meets the Mississippi Valley, where you’ll find fine award-winning wines in Grafton, grown from soil enriched by the rolling waters of America’s great rivers. Light, crisp fruity wines are the perfect pair for your picnic lunch, while the blend of Cabernet Zinfandel and Syrah marry for a smooth red wine, best sipped slowly with a river view. Visitors can savor every sip as they enjoy the spectacular scenic views available at each unique location. For more information on our local wineries, go to VisitAlton.com/Wine.

List of wineries & breweries
Grafton Vineyards
Grafton Winery & Brewhaus
Old Bakery Beer Co.
Aerie's Winery
Mary Michelle Winery

Mouthwatering peaches, crisp apples, plump pumpkins and everything in between can be found at the orchards and roadside stands of Grafton. Ride out into the fields and pick your own fruit at local orchards. Or, just browse the stands along the Main Street in Grafton for some of the best locally grown produce available from early spring to late fall.

Make sure to stop by Eckert's Orchard for pumpkin picking & more!

Some of the more popular festivals and attractions will be returning again this year, including the following:

Haunted Alton Tours (September - November)
Visitors wishing to experience “one of the most haunted small towns in America” need to look no further than Alton, Ill. Guided tours are available from early September through mid-November for the spookiest season of all. This year will be extra spooky with the Alton Halloween Parade!

Spirit of Peoria & Hakuna Matata River Cruises (Select dates September - October)

See the changing of fall colors along the Great River Road on a river cruise aboard the Spirit of Peoria or the Hakuna Matata.

Grafton Riverside Flea Market (4th Weekend of Month)
There will be over 50+ dealers with all types of goods, antiques glassware, tools, candles, furniture and good old-fashioned junk!

Underground Railroad Tours (Sept. 28 & Oct. 26)
The two-hour guided shuttle tours will stop at some of the sites that were part of the Underground Railroad system including Rocky Fork Church, Enos Apartments and more.

Vintage Voices (Oct. 5 & 6 & Oct. 12-13)
Actors/historians will "bring to life" some of Alton's most interesting citizens. The 3/4 mile easy walking tour (approximately one hour) will give individuals and groups a chance to learn about the women and men who shaped the city's rich history, to view some beautiful vintage costumes and to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the City and National Cemetery.

St. Mary's Oktoberfest (Oct. 11-13)
Polkas, German food, live music, inflatables ... it's a fall festival you won't want to miss! 

Grafton Rendezvous (Oct. 19-20)
See pre-1840 history come to life with period dress and demonstrations of archery, tomahawk and knife throwing and traders selling items of the period.

For a full listing of events, go to VisitAlton.com/Events.

Great Godfrey Maze
Get your Golden Ticket to the 2019 Great Godfrey Maze. The maze is a 7-acre adventure cut into a graphic image of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's famous golden ticket.  A Vortex has been added giving maze enthusiasts a new "spin"! The maze will open on Saturday, Sept. 20 and run through Nov. 3.

Family Adventure
The zip line affords those brave enough a stunning river view and hours of fun. The first of nine zip lines is nicknamed the Baby Bear — the shortest measuring only 300 feet in length. The longest, at 2,000 feet, is the Soaring Eagle, which has breathtaking views during its 250-foot descent. The nine zip lines total 1.75 miles, which should take approximately 90 minutes to complete.