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Visitor Activities

Waterfowl Hunting

Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge is centrally located along the Mississippi Flyway, a major route for migratory birds, affording visitors an excellent opportunity to see wildlife. Please note that the Batchtown, Portage Island, Gilbert Lake, and most of the Calhoun Division are closed from Oct. 16-Dec. 31 to provide inviolate sanctuary for migratory birds. The visitor center remains open during this time.

  • Hunting

    Hunting at Apple Creek Division

    The refuge allows hunting for migratory birds, upland game, and big game on the Apple Creek Division and upland game and big game hunting in a portion of the Calhoun Division. Refuge hunting is in accordance with Illinois state hunting seasons and regulations.

    Go to the Rules and Regulations page to view our full public use regulations and download the printable brochure.

  • Fishing

    Fishing at Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge

    From boat or bank try your luck at sport fishing on the rivers and backwaters. The sport of bow fishing for carp is popular on Swan Lake near the Refuge visitor center. This shallow marsh like lake was once a bottomland forest and is best accessed by john boat or paddled with canoe or kayak. 

    The Batchtown division is a popular place to fish for crappie and catfish. Launch your boat and wet your line at Prairie Pond and Gilead boat ramps in the spring and summer.

    Bank fishing is available in the Gilbert Lake Division, providing access to both Gilbert Lake and the Illinois River. Fishing is allowed during daylight hours only. 

    Go to the Rules and Regulations page to view our full public use regulations and download the printable brochure. And be sure to check Illinois state seasons and regulations before heading out. 

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Observation

    More than 200 species of birds visit the Refuge throughout the year. October, November, March and April are the best months to see large concentrations of waterfowl; shorebird and warbler migrations usually peak around the first week of May; and bald eagles are common in the winter as they gather near the river to feed in open water areas. Deer, squirrel, raccoon, muskrat, turkey, beaver, skunk and opossum are year-round residents.

    See thousands of waterfowl feeding in shallow wetlands of the Calhoun Division and on Swan Lake. Bald eagles use this area regularly during winter. Other birds enjoy the grassland habitat near the refuge visitor center. View an abundance of wildlife from the observation decks near the visitor center.

    Gilbert Lake is a great place to seek solace and escape the demands of everyday life; bird watching and hiking are allowed and encouraged on the three mile gravel trail in the division. Gilbert Lake is closed each fall to provide sanctuary for migratory birds. Travel the National Scenic Byway (Illinois State Highway 100) to Gilbert Lake, which is adjacent to Pere Marquette State Park in Jersey County, Illinois.

  • Interpretation


    While visiting learn about the natural and cultural history of the Two Rivers area at a number of interpretive kiosks located throughout the Refuge. The Refuge visitor center also houses educational displays for you to browse. Special group trips (school groups, scouts, etc.) are encouraged. Guided group tours may be arranged in advance by contacting the refuge.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education at Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge

    A refuge park ranger frequently provides programs for groups. Call the refuge office to schedule a visit or to have the ranger visit your school or organization.

  • Photography

    Photography at Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge

    Spend the day photographing wildlife for a peaceful way to explore the refuge. Stop at the visitor center photo blind to capture photos of waterfowl resting and refueling in the spring and fall.

Page Photo Credits — Credit: USFWS
Last Updated: Apr 09, 2014
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