Visitor Activities


Tackle your next big adventure at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Hunting


    Waterfowl hunting is a popular sport at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge. Hunters enjoy Liverpool Lake Public Hunting Area for its abundance of waterfowl in flooded timber during periods of high water. Hunting waterfowl is allowed in accordance with Illinois state and refuge hunting regulations in the Liverpool Lake Public Hunting Area of the refuge.

    Chautauqua NWR Public Use Regulations 

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  • Fishing


    Fishing conditions at the refuge vary depending on river levels. Catfish, crappie, and white bass are the most popular species. Many anglers fish the water control structures when we are releasing water from the North and South Pools. We also encourage you to try Asian Carp. They are easily caught on the refuge and can be a valuable and delicious food source. Fishing is allowed in accordance with state and federal regulations.

    Chautauqua NWR Public Use Regulations

    Learn More
  • Wildlife Viewing


    With over five miles of hiking trails, over 10 miles of gravel biking paths, observation decks, and boat and canoe access, the wildlife viewing opportunities at Chautauqua are boundless. Each season is marked with new occurrences: songbirds in the spring, turtles and snakes in the summer, waterfowl during the fall migration, and bald eagles in the winter. Contact us for seasonal wildlife viewing opportunities during your next visit.

  • Interpretation


    Kiosks found at Chautauqua refuge headquarters and Eagle Bluffs access help you learn about the refuge wildlife and management. You can also grab a self-guided hiking brochure at the head of several refuge trails. We usually host three auto-tour events each year where you can view wildlife as you drive around the South Pool. Other programs are offered throughout the year free of charge. Stay tuned to the website, visit our Facebook page, or contact us for more information on programs, auto-tour dates, and interpretative resources.

  • Environmental Education


    One of the most important roles National Wildlife Refuges serve is as an outdoor classroom. School children come to the refuge to learn in and about the natural environment. Refuge lands are available to educators, instructors and students of all ages to increase understanding of the ecological significance of the area and develop a life-long appreciation of wetlands and associated biological diversity. Please contact us for information or to schedule a visit.

  • Photography


    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges is wildlife photography. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started. A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors. For tips on the best places on the refuge for photography, contact us or visit the refuge headquarters. 

  • Hiking


    There are now more than 5 miles of hiking trails for visitors to experience at the refuge. Whether for wildlife observation, photography, exploration, or just exercise, Chautauqua's nature trails are a great opportunity to get away from the road and enjoy nature.  Though most of the trails are a natural dirt or sand path, Chautauqua does offer one ADA accessible trail at the refuge headquarters.  A trail map can be found at the headquarters as well as most trail-heads. 

    Chautauqua Nature Trails Map 

  • Exploring the Illinois River

    Illinois River Road Logo

    The Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway travels along 150 miles of the Illinois River from Ottawa to Havana. You can explore 100 natural and historic sites and numerous unique communities located throughout its 10-county region. Visit the Illinois River Road website for more details.