Old Man River. The Mighty Miss. Big Muddy. Big by any of its many names, the Mississippi River flows for more than 2,000 miles (as does this byway), and in places it's four miles wide.
Of course, the Mississippi starts off small – a narrow stream rippling out of Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota and meandering its way toward the Gulf of Mexico. What a thrill it is to step across the 30-odd large stones separating the two banks at the river's origin!
But who has the time for a 2,000-mile trip? Actually, most of us, if we approach it (and other byways of great length) the way so many hikers take on the Georgia-to-Maine Appalachian Trail. Do it bit by bit.
Author Dennis Coello: Providing photography for magazines and tour companies – and a lifelong interest in history and bicycling – have taken Coello through more than 50 countries and all the states. He is the author of 13 books and hundreds of articles.
One might think the football-hero moniker All-American is applied only to the very best of the national scenic byways. You might agree, once you've seen them, but best – like beauty – depends upon the beholder.
All national scenic byways must have one of these six "intrinsic qualities": historical, cultural, natural, scenic, recreational, and archaeological. All-American Roads must possess two.
But there's more. These two or more qualities must be "nationally significant" and must "contain one-of-a-kind features that do not exist elsewhere." An All-American Road must be considered "a destination unto itself."