Road Trips in Galena and Jo Daviess County


Jo Daviess County is extremely rich in history. In fact, many sites have been named to the National Register of Historic Places. From 19th-century buildings on Galena’s Main Street to churches, hotels, train depots and other historic points of interest scattered across the countryside, Jo Daviess County is full of hidden treasures. So hit the road for a full day of discovery. Charming small towns are just waiting to be explored.

Look for camera-ready spots

Here’s our top eight places for getting great photos: Horseshoe Mound, Main Street Galena, the Mississippi River, a hot air balloon ride, any of our four vineyards, bald eagle watches, Thunder Bay Falls, and Chestnut Mountain Resort.

Follow the rails

Start out traveling Galena River Road as you head over to Scales Mound, a town saturated with historic buildings and more than 90 percent of its village on the National Register of Historic Places. Next up on the list is Apple River. Located on the old stagecoach route from Chicago to Galena, Apple River features an 1850s one-room school house and 1860s white-steeple church at Oak Hill Weddings, plus Apple River Canyon State Park is located just six miles away. Continue on to Warren, which has it’s own unique downtown, then stretch your legs in Nora, a once bustling railroading community.

Travel the most scenic paths

Hop on U.S. Highway 20 in East Dubuque, Illinois’ gateway to the Great River Road. This scenic drive takes you through Jo Daviess County as it intertwines with IL Route 84 and is dotted with numerous outlooks, eclectic shops and charming diners. Blackjack Road is another great drive that connects Galena to Hanover. Holding lots of natural wonders, this roads starts in Galena near the mighty Mississippi River and winds its way through curvaceous roads and beautiful vistas. Stop by Chestnut Mountain Resort for some outdoor activities, then head on to the quaint village of Hanover for a quick bite to eat. The Stagecoach Trail is a perfect ride for motorcyclists. This trail follows the original Galena-Chicago stagecoach route that ran in the mid-1800s. Traveling this two-lane road will take you through rolling hills and past scenic farms as you cruise near the highest point in Illinois. Lastly, the Elizabeth,Scales Mound Road is full of natural beauty. There are many farmsteads along the way, many of which have been here as long as the road, giving you a glimpse of how our forefathers farmed.

Great stops along the drive

Hanover is home to Whistling Wings, the world’s largest mallard duck hatchery. Mallardfest, complete with a duck-calling contest, is a yearly tribute to the town’s hatchery. Chestnut Mountain Resort is also located nearby as well as two lush vineyards. East Dubuque is connected to Dubuque, Iowa by one of the longest tied-arch and cantilevered bridges ever built. Public marinas, lively pubs, Gramercy Park and a 45-hole golf course all make this a worthy stop. Grab a bite to eat at J.M.’s Tap in Menominee on your way back to Galena. There are also some great attractions nearby in the tri-state area. Tour the home of the Dominican Sisters, Sinsinawa Mound, only 15 miles away. Explore Crystal Lake Cave, play at Diamond Jo Casino and have fun on Dubuque River Rides, also only 15 miles away. Or, spend a day with Celebration River Cruises on the Mississippi River in Moline, Illinois!

Motorcycle Tips & Suggested Routes

Jo Daviess County is a beautiful place to take a motorcycle ride. Please be aware that many of the township roads have no shoulders or guardrails and some have gravel surfaces. Here are a couple of suggested routes along hard-surfaced roads:

  • Start on Stagecoach Trail in Galena and travel east to the Elizabeth-Scales Mound Road. Turn left (east) on Highway 20; then turn right (south) on Locust Street in Elizabeth, go two blocks and then turn right on to Pleasant Hill Road. Turn right (west) on Hanover Road and then head south on Highway 78 in Hanover towards Savanna. In Savanna, take Highway 84 north through Hanover and back to Highway 20. Turn left onto Highway 20 and head west to Galena.
  • Start on Stagecoach Trail in Galena and travel east towards Apple River. Just west of Apple River, take right (south) on Scout Camp Rd. to Woodbine. Turn left (east) on Highway 20 towards Stockton. In Stockton, turn right (south) on Highway 78 to Mt. Carroll. In Mt. Carroll, turn right on Highway 64/52 (west) to Savanna. In Savanna, take Highway 84 north through Hanover. In Hanover, turn left onto Blackjack Road and follow Blackjack Road back to Highway 20 into Galena.

What People are Saying about Galena’s Scenic Drives

“As I drove into Illinois’ Great Rivers Country on Highway 20, the sights were already making me relax: rolling hills with beautiful views of trees starting to change to autumn colors. Galena, Illinois, is a place I will definitely return to. If you’re looking to relax in a truly charming environment, I’ll see you there.”

– Marieve Herington