National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of recreational activities, from birding and wildlife watching to hunting and fishing. The area’s abundant natural resources have supported more than 600 generations of civilization. A visit to the refuge offers a unique opportunity to experience ecological and cultural significance.
Restoration and conservation initiatives are returning Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge to a previous time when it was considered the 'Jewel of the Illinois River.' Abundant communities of fish, wildlife and plants are returning to open wetlands, backwater lakes, bottomland forests, savanna bluffs, prairies and open wetlands. The variety of habitats benefit wildlife and sighting are plentiful no matter the time of year.
There are hundreds of nearby archeological sites, including Native American villages and ceremonial and burial mounds. Experience 12,000 years of human history at The Dickson Mounds Museum, a branch of the Illinois State Museum and a National Historic Site. Interactive exhibits and on-site archeological excavations consist of Native American, French colonial and nineteenth and twentieth-century Euro-American artifacts.
Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge is located along Illinois Route 78/97 near Havana, Illinois 62644.
From Lewistown: Follow Route 24 east to the Route 78/97 intersection. Travel one mile south on Route 78/97.
From Havana: Follow Route 136W over the Illinois River Bridge. One-half mile west of the bridge, turn North onto Route 78/97.
Refuge headquarters building is located at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge.
Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge
19031 E County Road 2110N
Havana, Illinois 62644
There is no charge to visit.
Restrooms available at nearby Dickson Mounds Museum during normal business hours. 10956 N. Dickson Mounds Rd. Lewistown, Illinois 61542. Phone: 309-547-3721
Points of Interest
Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge offers easily accessible birdwatching opportunities throughout the year. The North and South Globes of the refuge flank Dickson Mounds Road (IL-9). In the spring and fall, flood waters from the Illinois River fill the Globes and they are popular resting locations for migratory waterfowl. In winter, bald eagles can be seen most anywhere on the refuge, particularly along Hwy 97/78. As summer mudflat emerge from receding flood waters, shorebirds dart around the globes and the Wilder Unit. In late summer, the bottomland forest in the Oxbow Unit and Wilder Unit are home to nesting wood ducks and red-headed woodpeckers.
What To Do
If you have 15 minutes
- Stop by the information kiosk at the Spoon River Access Area and grab a refuge information brochure with map and check out the viewing and picnic platform on the bank of the Spoon River or stroll the short primitive trail along river the the Observation Platform on the Bellrose Wetland.
If you have one hour
- Head to Dickson Mounds Road to enjoy the North and South Globes from roadside pull off areas. During periods of low water, the South Globe levee tops create a 4 mile loop and are open to walking.
If you have half a day or more
- Experience all that Emiquon area has to offer. Paddle the Spoon River and Oxbow’s at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, stroll the wetland boardwalk at The Nature Conservancy's Emiquon Preserve and explore the connections between the river and the people who lived along it from the end of the ice age to the present day at the Illinois State Museum's Dickson Mounds.
Know Before You Go
When planning a trip to the refuge, it is important to wear appropriate clothing and footwear for boating or hiking excursions and to dress for the weather. Poison Ivy is common throughout forested areas. Consider bringing water, food, binoculars, field guides, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent and anything else that might make the outdoor experience more enjoyable. Restrooms available at Dickson Mounds Museum during normal business hours.
Sunrise and sunset offer picturesque views of the refuge landscape and are also a great time to look for active wildlife. There are informational kiosks with maps and regulation brochures at the Spoon River and Oxbow access points. During normal business hours, Dickson Mounds Museum offers a wide selection of area travel and informational brochures. The refuge headquarters is located at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge where staff can help you plan your visit.
Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge provides multiple opportunities for visitors to experience nature through wildlife-dependent activities involving fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, wildlife interpretation, wildlife photography and environmental education.
Extreme water level fluctuation at Emiquon refuge does not allow for long, formal trails. During period of low water, however, the levee system is open to foot access.
Other Facilities in the Complex
Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge is managed as part of the Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge Complex. This complex stretches along 124 miles of the Illinois River in west central Illinois and consists of three refuges: Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge and Meredosia National Wildlife Refuge. The complex totals 13,000 acres of backwater lakes, bottomland forests, floodplain wetlands and upland habitats and provides habitat for 60% to 70% of the waterfowl that migrate along the Illinois River. Refuges in the complex have been designated as an Important Bird Area, a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and has been accepted into the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.
Rules and Policies
All refuge land and water is open to public access in accordance with refuge regulations for approved public use activities. Refuge lands are open for public use activities from legal sunrise to sunset, with seasonal closures for waterfowl sanctuary and portions of the refuge closed during hunting season. On October 16 of each year, portions of the refuge close for waterfowl sanctuary and remained closed until January 31. Pets must be on a leash unless engaged in hunting.