Draft Compatibility Determination for Traffic Roundabout

The USFWS is seeking public comment for a15-day public comment period, from 12/01/22 to 12/15/22, on the expansion of an existing right-of-way to accommodate a traffic roundabout at the intersection of Old Route 13 and State Highway 148. For more information click on Roundabout Draft Compatibility Determination.

Comments can be submitted via email to CrabOrchard@fws.gov or mailed to Crab Orchard NWR, 6987 Headquarters Rd, Marion, IL 62959.

Cooperative Agricultural Opportunity

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking bids for row cropping and haying on four farm units within Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. Cooperative Agriculture is used at the refuge to meet its agriculture purpose, and to achieve grassland bird, waterfowl, and resident wildlife objectives. For more information click on Cooperative Agriculture Opportunities

Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. A visit to a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors and discover a new place. Visitors can enjoy the four seasons at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, hiking a trail in spring while their eyes experiences a collage of colors through the wildflowers or while kayaking in a summer sunset. Whether you enjoy hiking, canoeing, hunting, camping, picnicking, wildlife photography or birdwatching a visit to Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is a great way to explore nature.

Driving Directions

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is located in the southern portion of Illinois, with lands in Williamson, Jackson and Union counties. The refuge visitor center is located five miles west of Marion, Illinois and five miles south of Herrin Illinois on State Route 148.

To get to the refuge visitor center from I-57, take exit 54 B onto IL-13W toward Carbondale for 3.6 miles until you reach the IL-148 intersection. At this intersection, turn left onto IL-148 and travel south 1.6 miles until you reach the refuge visitor center.

To get to the refuge visitor center from I-24, merge onto I-57 N via exit 44B for 1.3 miles until you reach exit 45, IL-148. Take IL-148 north for 7.7 miles until you reach the refuge.

Fees

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is a federal fee area and entrance passes are required for all refuge users. Passes can be purchased at the visitor center or online at recreation.gov. The visitor center is open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. daily.  Refuge passes are available as follows:

One day pass - $2.00 for a vehicle and watercraft, may also be purchased from self-service kiosks located at the visitor center and Devils Kitchen Lake Campground. Little Grassy campground and Crab Orchard campgrounds also sell day passes when they are open during the summer months.

Seven day pass - $5.00 for a vehicle and watercraft.

Annual pass - $15.00 for a vehicle, $10.00 for a watercraft.

Lifetime Senior Pass - $80.00 per person age 62 or older. Also provides a 50% discount for pass owner on some expanded amenity fees such as camping. The Lifetime Senior Pass provides access to recreation sites managed by six federal agencies: National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation.

Annual Senior Pass - $20.00 per person age 62 or older. Valid for 12 months from the time of purchase. Also provides a 50% discount for pass owner on some expanded amenity fees such as camping. The Annual Senior Pass provide access to recreation sites managed by six federal agencies: National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation.

Access Pass - A free lifetime pass for disabled persons. Also provides a 50% discount for pass owner on some expanded amenity fees such as camping. The Access Pass provide access to recreation sites managed by six federal agencies: National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation.

America the Beautiful Annual Pass - $80.00 - valid for 12 months from the time of purchase – provide access to recreation sites managed by six federal agencies: National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation.

Annual 4th Grade Pass - A free pass valid for the duration of the 4th grade school year though the following summer (September - August). This pass is available for U.S. 4th graders (including home-schooled and free-choice learners 10 years of age) with a valid Every Kid in a Park paper pass. The student must be traveling with the family.

FEE FREE DAYS

  • January 17
  • February 21
  • June 19
  • August 4
  • September 24
  • October 9 
  • November 11

Restrooms

Restrooms are available inside the refuge headquarters and visitor center, at Wolf Creek, Pigeon Creek and Prairie Creek Recreation Areas, as well as at almost every boat ramp. Pigeon Creek restrooms are closed in the winter.

Points of Interest

Let our staff and volunteers at the visitor center help you plan your visit! This is a great starting point for visitors to become more familiar with the refuge and the wildlife that live here. Visitors can watch a 10 minute refuge orientation video, browse nature and wildlife exhibits and obtain maps and brochures. While there, visit the Friends of Crab Orchard Refuge gift shop for field guides, t-shirts and other educational items. Once you are out and about in the refuge visit the Pigeon Creek Recreational Area, Wolf Creek Causeway, Rocky Bluff Trail or Prairie Creek Recreation Area.

Pigeon Creek Day Use Area is located on Pigeon Creek Road about a half mile west of route 148. The area is home to Martha’s Theater, which is used for special events including the annual International Migratory Bird Day celebration which takes place each May. It is also the meeting place for many environmental education programs. The trailhead to the Harmony trail is also located here. There is also a small picnic area and restrooms.

Wolf Creek Causeway is one of the most popular spots on the refuge for fishing and wildlife observation. Fishing piers provide access for bank fishing for crappie and other species. There is also a boat launch and covered dock. Nearby Bogart Point offers additional fishing opportunities as well as a picnic area and restrooms.

Rocky Bluff Trail is the most popular hiking trail on the refuge. It is located off of Tacoma Lake Road, adjacent to the Devils Kitchen Lake. The 2.2 mile loop trail traverses moderate terrain including ridges, valleys and bluffs. It is spectacular in the springtime when wildflowers are abundant and water flows over an intermittent fall.

Prairie Creek Recreation Area is very popular with anglers. Located just south of State Highway 13 in Carbondale this area boasts excellent bank fishing and includes and accessible fishing pier. There are also boat ramps on both the north and south sides of the highway. Many fishing tournaments stage here and hold their weigh-ins and on-site pavilion. Picnic tables are also available.

Camping

Whether you're a camper who likes to rough it or one who prefers more convenience, camping at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is fun for all. The refuge offers four campgrounds. 

Little Grassy Lake and Blue Heron Campgrounds are managed through concession contracts. The Crab Orchard Recreation Association oversees the Blue Heron Campground and Marina. The Little Grassy Lake Campground & Marina is operated by Land for Learning Inc., while Refuge personnel manage the Crab Orchard Lake and Devils Kitchen Lake Campgrounds.  Together these facilities offer more than 250 campsites. (Campsites are on a first come, first served basis - reservations are not available)

Campgrounds are open from April 1st until Mid- November. The maximum camping period is limited to 14 days within a 16 day time period. All camping units, equipment, and personal property must be removed from the campground for 48 hours at the end of any 14 consecutive days. Campers may return after the 48 hour time period.  Crab Orchard Lake Campground, camper may only occupy the same campsite 14 day in a 30 day period. 

Daily camping fees for the Crab Orchard Lake Campground are:

  • Full Hook Up - $25 
  • Electric/Water - $20   
  • Non Electric - $10

For more information about the campgrounds call the refuge visitor center at 618-997-3344 ext. 1, or call the campgrounds directly.

  • Crab Orchard Campground 618-997-3344
  • Little Grassy Campground and Marina 618-457-6655
  • Devils Kitchen Campground 618-997-3344 ext. 1 
  • Blue Heron Campground and Marina 618-985-2572

What To Do

If you have 15 minutes

  • Check out the visitor center and explore the exhibits to learn about the rich history and present day management of the refuge

If you have one hour

  • Drive the wildlife drive and bring your binoculars

If you have half a day or more

  • Hike the 2.2 mile Rocky Bluff Trail to see a rain fed waterfall and sandstone cliffs

Know Before You Go

To get the most enjoyment out of your visit, be sure to come prepared. Always check the weather forecast before heading out on the lakes or off down a trail. Be sure to dress appropriately for the expected weather conditions. Also be prepared for insects in the spring and summer, especially ticks. Wearing protective clothing or repellants is recommended.

Visitor Tips

Visitors can enjoy wildlife viewing around the wildlife drive in the morning and evenings when flocks of turkeys can often be seen in adjacent fields. Friday through Sunday is when most of our visitors come to enjoy the amazing outdoors. Spring and summer are great times to hike a trail and go in a hunt color while searching for wildflowers! After the winter season, many anglers come to enjoy refuge lakes. In fall and winter seasons, hunters will visit Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge to enjoy deer, turkey and waterfowl hunting opportunities.

Activities

There is a wide variety of recreational opportunities at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.  Whether you like to fish, camp, or photograph, Crab Orchard has plenty of recreational opportunities for everyone!

Trails

Woodland Trail

Open Season: Open to foot traffic year round.
Length: 0.7 mile loop
Location of trail: Off of State Route 148, east of visitor center parking lot
Surface : Partially paved
Difficulty: Easy
Information: This trail includes 2 fishing piers open March 15 - September 30. When not being used for fishing, piers can be used for waterfowl viewing. This walk also offers a pleasant atmosphere for morning bird walks.

Harmony Trail

Open Season: Open to foot traffic year round
Length: 0.8 mile loop
Location of trail: Pigeon Creek Road, 0.25 miles west of State Route 148
Surface : Soil
Difficulty: Easy
Information: This trail is marked by an A-Frame structure structure
Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish cleaning table, satellite dish/mount, or well head.

Learn more about structure
near its entrance and will take you through a variety of habitats from pine plantation to wetlands. There is a photo blind overlooking moist-soil units that provides excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. 

Rocky Bluff Trail

Open Season: Open to foot traffic year round
Length: 2.2 mile loop
Location of trail: Devils Kitchen Lake, Tacoma lake road
Surface : Soil and sandstone substrate
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
Information: This trail winds through a wide variety of habitats and some of the most spectacular scenery on the refuge. There are intermittent waterfalls, sandstone cliffs and some steep rocky sections that make this trail difficult at times. This trail is graced with more than 60 varieties of wildflowers and is the home of spring wildflower walks.

Wild Turkey Trail

Open Season: Open to foot traffic year round
Length: 1.7 miles one way
Location of trail: The north entrance is 0.6 miles west of South Wolf Creek Rd. The south entrance is on Tacoma lake road East of Rocky Bluff trailhead.
Surface :  Soil/Grass
Difficulty: Moderate
Information: This young forest trail will take you through pine plantations to hardwood forests. You can connect this trail to Rocky Bluff Trail for a longer adventure!

River to River Trail 

Open Season: Open to foot traffic year round. Open to horseback riding May 1 - October 31
Length: 2.5 miles of trail runs through refuge
Location of trail: On Rocky Comfort Road 3.4 miles south of Grassy Road and also at Pleasant Hill Spur Trail on Devils Kitchen Rd
Surface :  Soil
Difficulty: Moderate
Information: The beautiful River to River Trail spans more than 160 miles of Southern Illinois. This is the only trail on the refuge seasonally open to horseback riding. Sections of River to River Trail located on the refuge run through the scenic wilderness area wilderness area
Wilderness areas are places untamed by humans. The Wilderness Act of 1964 allows Congress to designate wilderness areas for protection to ensure that America's pristine wild lands will not disappear. Wilderness areas can be part of national wildlife refuges, national parks, national forests or public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

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.

Grassy Creek Trail

Open Season: Open to foot traffic year round
Length: 1.4 mile loop
Location of trail: 0.5 miles south of Tacoma Lake Road off of line road 16/17.
Surface : Old road bed, aged pavement
Difficulty: Moderate
Information: This trail was once an old road bed with a wide paved surface that is perfect for the novice hiker wanting to do some wildlife viewing. It is in a hardwood forest and provides scenic views of Devils Kitchen Lake. The eastern part of the trail is bordered by wilderness area.
 

Other Facilities in the Complex

Rules and Policies

Welcome to your national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
. Discover new places to hunt, fish, take pictures, watch wildlife, walk, and canoe. Enjoy spending time outdoors alone or with friends and family. For more information, please contact the refuge visitor center at 618-997-3344 ext. 1

To ensure your safety and protect wildlife and habitat, please be aware of these regulations.

Locations

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge
8588 Route 148 Marion, IL 62959
Hours
Visitor Center Hours
Daily
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.