Visitor Activities

Visitors at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge provides visitors with a number of ways to enjoy the outdoors and learn about the plants, wildlife and habitat of the Illinois River floodplain ecosystem.


  • Hunting

    Father and Son on a Hunt

    Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge offers opportunities to hunt migratory game birds, upland birds, upland game, deer and turkey. The Wilder Tract and the Oxbow Area are popular hunting areas for waterfowl hunting enthusiasts.

    Emiquon NWR Public Use Regulations

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  • Fishing

    Fishing the River from a Boat

    Fishing is one of the most popular sports on National Wildlife Refuges across the nation. Remember to use lead-free tackle and encourage others to do the same.

    Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge's bottomland areas (referred to as the Oxbow Area) are abundant with fish during flood events. Catfish, buffalo, gar and all the other Illinois River fish move into the flooded bottomlands to spawn while some move into the floodplain area to feed. The Spoon River meanders through portions of the refuge and provides fishing opportunities after the flooded bottomland areas become too shallow to support fish species.

    Emiquon NWR Public Use Regulations

    Learn More
  • Wildlife Viewing

    Spotting Wildlife at Emiquon Refuge

    Take an afternoon to enjoy the sights at the refuge on the Bellrose Nature Trail. This three-quarter mile, ungroomed nature trail is located at Spoon River Access Area. A walking trail also surrounds the South Globe Unit, located adjacent to County Road 9.

    Wildlife observation is allowed on all refuge lands except during temporary seasonal closures for waterfowl sanctuary as posted. 

  • Interpretation

    Fish and Wildlife Service Interpretive Booth

    National Wildlife Refuges across the country provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world. Self-guided hikes and seasonal staff-led events help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitats behind the landscapes. Seasonal events including Eagle Days, Earth Day and Lake Festivals are co-sponsored through the Emiquon Partnership which includes The Nature Conservancy, Dickson Mounds Museum and University of Illinois-Springfield.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education Program at Emiquon Refuge

    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach 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 the refuge to schedule a visit.

  • Photography

    Photography at Emiquon Refuge

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been 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.

    Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas and tour routes. We welcome beginner and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive.